|from The Webster Times,
“The GAR Encampment”
Among the 30 citizens and members of the G. A. R. who left Webster Monday, Sept 4, for Philadelphia , to attend the 33d National Encampment of the G. A. R. were five of the seven surviving members of the old Slater guard, Co. I. 15th reg. Vol. Infantry. They went as the guests of Capt. Amos Bartlett, who was 1st Lieutenant of the company and afterwards Captain of Co. H of Northbridge.
We left the Union Station in company with Post 10 of Worcester, at 8 o’clock by the Boston& Albany road to Springfield, then over the N.Y. 7 N. H. to Harlem river, thence by boat to Jersey City, taking the cars for Philadelphia over, the New Jersey Central. (Bound Brook route) arriving there at 6 PM, at the terminal station of the Reading R.R. system; 12th and Market street, one of the largest railroad stations in the world.
We went directly to quarters that had been provided for nine of the Massachusetts posts, at Temple College, corner of North, Broad and Berke Streets. Twenty of the Webster boys remained at these quarters during the encampment, the remaining ten finding lodgings elsewhere. The naval parade took place Monday, we arrived to late to witness it.
September 5th, F. H. C. Berger, commander of Post 61, formed the Webster company in rear of Post 10 for the parade. The line started at 10:30. There were over 50,000 of the old soldiers in the parade, which lasted until nearly 7 o’clock. At every point in the line of march the boys were given a most hearty greeting.
One of its notable features was the section of Broad street, above and below city hall, called the “Avenue of Fame,’ which had been decorated lofty symbolic columns, supporting festoones of colors and historic designs. No such superb, embellishments of the line of march has ever greeted the Grand Army of the Republic in its history. It was the culmination of its honors and will remain as a vivid picture of Philadelphia’s welcome to the veterans while memory lasts.
As the line of veterans passed City Hall , they were greeted by thirty five hundred school children, clad and arrainged to form the three letters of our order G. A. R., all waving tiny flags and singing patriotic songs, We cannot describe the beauty of designs and decorations which greeted the old soldiers in that line of march.. The pen of James Russell Lowell would fail to do them justice.
Returning to quarters, we were prepared to enjoy a nights rest that brought to mind scenes of camping out in ’62.
Sept, 6th We were early astir and ready to take in the sights of the monument city of Philadelphia. Broad St, on which we were quartered, has the distinction of being the longest straight street in the world, 27 miles, 15 of them asphalt, making it a paradise for cyclers. We were dissapointed in not meeting Comrade Hetherington, of Philadelphia, who had intimated through the papers his desire to entertain the Webster boys. He did not show up, and it was our good fortune to meet one of our old comrades of Co. I, Jacob Bender. Comrade Bender was badly wounded at Antietam and is now living at a place twenty miles out from Philadelphia. We are endebted to him for his guidance while in the city, without which we would have missed many points of interest. Space forbids us from mentioning more than the names of some of the most interesting places visited.
Among the many was City Hall, one of the finest structures in the United States, situated at the intersection of Broad and Market streets; Independence Hall, with its old liberty bell, on Chesnut Street, between 5th and 6th street, is the United States Mint, corner of Chesnut and Juniper streets; “The Old Flag House, 229 Arch street. Here Betsy Ross made upon the order of Geo. Washington the first American flag. Cramp’s shipyards at Kensington, where some of the most notable ships in the world have been built. A trip on the Delaware, visiting Sampson’s North Atlantic squadron, consisting of the Massachusetts, New York, Brooklyn, Indiana, Nashville and Texas; also the squadron of United States revenue cutters, the Graham, Algonquin, Onadago, Manning and the Windom, commanded by Capt. I. M. Stoddard, who was a Lieutenant on the Monitor during her historic battle with the rebel ram Merrimac.
To look at these dogs of war, most of which have taken an active part in the war with Spain produced impressions in our minds that will long be remembered. We next visited the Union League Building, South Broad street. Here we met Gen (Braver?) of the old 2d Corps, who lost his right leg at Antietam. Here we enjoyed a short social hour in those rooms, where was consceived and planned many important and patriotic movements that helped to bring the War of the Rebellion to a successful close.
We have visited Wannamakers store, the largest of its kind in the world, having 18 acres of floor space and employing 5500 hands. Most of our time was taken viewing the museum and historic paintings on the fourth floor. There were many valuable relics exhibited that were brought from Manila, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, and many from the Spanish gunboats. Thursday, the 7th we took cars for the headquarters of the encampment at Camp Sexton, (Bellmont?). Fairmont Park the description of which has no doubt been given by every paper in our land, we visited Memorial and Horticultural Halls. These two have remained the same since the great Centenial of 1876. A part of Camp Sexton is on the old site of Machinery Hall, and was guarded as well as other parts of Fairmont Park by Sons of Veterans. The Zooilogical Gardens with one of the largest collections of animals, reptile and birds in the United States, and a hundred and one other sights was enjoyed, which space forbids mention.
We were accompanied on our tour of observation and pleasure by several of Webster’s citizens, among whom were, John H. Prescott, Cyrus Powers, Edgar Powers, Joseph P. Love and son, Amasa Houghton and others. Some of these left the morning after the parade for points of interest further South. The first named, Mr. Prescott has accompanied the G.A.R. boys to encampments for several years, and is always to be seen in line of march. He always takes soldiers fare with the boys at quarters. We were all ready Friday morning to embark for home, where we arrived at 7PM.
Thanking you Mr. Editor for this space, and Capt. Bartlett, for his generous aid and encouragement, which enabled the old Slater Guards to enjoy one of the most successful encampments since the war, we bid our Comrades Godspeed until we meet again.
E. B. Wakefield
Surviving members of the old Slater Guard in Webster and Dudley are: Capt. Amos Bartlett, Henry Rusack, Henry Groh, Hiram Raymond, Patrick Haley, Michael Lanagan and E. B. Wakefield.