Retired Warriors Reunion, Saturday August 1893

Stephen was in the 109th. Whether or not this is our Stephen Wilbur needs some research. Still the information about the reunion is fascinating. He did get togethr with veterans every year.

Transcript from Broome Republican, Saturday, August 26, 1893:

Retired Warriors

Pullers Down of the Rebellion Met at Greene.


Sixty-one Members of the Old Eighty-Ninth Regiment, New York Volunteers, answered to Roll Call-interesting Exchange of Reminiscence – Honorary Survivor Painter-Election of Officers-To Meet at Norwich New Year.

Sixty-one members of that hard-fighting old regiment, the Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers, answered to the roll-call at Greene yesterday morning. It being the fourteenth annual reunion of the survivors. And the reunions will be kept up so long as there are any survivors left to reunite around the camp fire and talk over the brave days of old.

On account of the general and pervasive dampness, the old fighters bivouacked with Landlord Silvermail at the Chenango House, instead of building a position bridge across the Fair grounds. The camp fire was lighted at the rooms at Banks Post, G.A.R. and these comrades answered to their names:

Dr. James Allen, assistant surgeon, J. E. Andrews, Captain Robert Brown, George W. Bowker, Thomas Brown, Charles Blatchley, E.A. Boughton, Janice Boardman, Liert. George H. Baldwin, DuBois Bennett, Benjamin Bird, S.C. Cole, Eli Crocker, Captain R.P. Cormack, M. Dunham, Sepven Duell, William Drutom, M. Evans, R.F. Francisco, O.I. Foster, Abram Haxton, Captain James Huxley, Barton Harper, R. H. Hall, A. Holdridge, G. W. Hurlburt, A.D. Hoadley, George S. Hupman, E.A. Knapp, Senevn Kelley, W.P. King, Barney Lee, L. Lindsley, W.B. Livermore, J.A. Munn, T. H. Mowers, J. E. Northrup, Robert Nichols, R.A. Oliver, W. H. Perry, T.B. Rowlinson, David Rhoads, W. Riddle, E.S. Rozelle, Lieut. John B. Russell, Frank S. Smith, Eli Stevens, A.C. Stevens, George Stringham, Whitney Stratton, Michael Sullivan, J. H. Trafford, George W. Tilletson, W. E. Templar, Henry Tulmage, Henry Winters, Wesley Wasburn, Charles Walker, Stephen Wilbur, Fred Young.


President and Comrade T.B. Rowlinson, who wore rubber boots that came up to his waistband, welcomed the old fighters to the joys of peace and of Greene; and Comrade A.B. Holcomb of O.G. Banks Post, told of how proud and happy Greene was to be invaded by the old warriors. Another log was then put on the fire and, as it blazed up, District Attorney Painter, who had come across the border from Broome county, gave his famous war reminiscences. Owing to circumstances over which he had no control Mr. Painter remained at home during the war. But the Eighty-ninth survivors have elected him an honorary surviving member and Mr. Painter's bosom pulsates with pride whenever he thinks of what his war record would have been if his age had only permitted him to make a record. At times, when the camp fire blazes the most brightly, Mr. Painter believes that he was the field and the last to leave it. In his camp fire talk yesterday Mr. painter insisted that every old soldier ought to have a pension and condemned, not as a politician but as a citizen, a patriot and an honorary survivor of the Eighty-ninth, the conduct of Mr. Hoke Smith. 

Shouts of, "Hello, old Sawbones!" went up as Assistant Surgeon Allen came in out of the damp. As he dried himself by the fire he told of an alligator, six feet, six inches long, that had been captured off Folly Island precisely thirty years ago yesterday. He made good eating, though with quite a gamey flavor. His skin, stuffed, adorns the Doctor's study as a war reminiscence. 

Captain Crosby, a guest, told of how he esteemed and loved the gnarled old warriors of the Eighty-ninth for putting down the rebellion, for he had been a position to be able to appreciate their services.

The Rev. L. B. Weeks, another guest, deprecated the conduct of his parents in giving him so late a start in life that he couldn't help put down the rebellion. A silent tear sizzled on a burning log as Mr. Weeks described his grief at fully realizing for the first time that he was too young, too short and too narrow to go to the war. 

Comrade Hall said that he must go right home as there was a train waiting for him. But before he went out into the outer dampness he wanted to invite all the retired warriors, including Honorary Survivor Painter, to meet with him next year at Susquehanna. He also wanted to remark that any old soldier who voted for Grover Cleveland was a fool. Mr. Hall dared any man present to confess that he was a Democrat. Nobody accepted the dare; not even Captain Cormack. Comrade Hall became so interested in talking about Hoke Smith and pensions that he let his train go off without him. 

Double extra rations were then served, after which more logs were heaped on and more stories called for.

Captain Smith told of their first experience in doing picket duty by lounging around an old windmill with nothing on by shirts and trousers. Major Janline came along and gave them some points on picket duty. He also told of the famous Blackberry raid, in which the raiders brought home a yoke of cattle. An irate woman soon appeared and said that her team had been stolen. The officers denied all knowledge of any such occurrence till the woman looked around and shrieked: "There's my team, and that man's milking the cow." It was too true. Seneca Kelly was doing the milking, and had only got half through with the team.

Comrade Northrup unlimbered this reminiscence of the hottest, hand-to-hand 

 engagement in the history of the Eighty-ninth. We took part in the capture of Fort Gregg, the last line of works before Petersburg, in the Spring of 186?. Major F.W. Tremaine was then in command of the regiment, Colonel Fairchild being in charge of the brigade. A whole brigade had charged on the fort and been repulsed. Colonel Fairchild sent for Major Tremaine and Major H.S. Kait, of the 158th New York, and said: "There's a whole brigade charged on that fort and been repulsed. I want you to take your own old? regiments and take it." Kalt and Tremaine shook hands and said: "By God, we'll take it." Kalt and Tremaine came back, and said: "I told the Colonel we'd take that fort. Boys, don't let the 158th be first into that fort." We charged on the double quick. About twenty ????from the fort Tremaine went down with a bullet through his heart, and the command fell on me. We jumped down into the ditch in front of the earth????? and then climbed over the dirt ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? the fort. We let them have the bayonet, then we picked up handfuls of gravel and threw them right in their faces. Color Bearer George McKay of Rochester, planted the first standard of Union colors in Fort Gregg and received a medal from the War Department.  There were over 300 men in the fort but we took only thirty prisoners.

Captain J.H. Duncan, of the Sixteenth Mississippi, surrendered his sword to Adjutant Northrup. 

After Fort Gregg was taken, Petersburg was evacuated, and the Eighty-ninth was sent on Lee's heels, with daily skirmishes for five days with the rear guard. The night before the surrender the Eighty-ninth marched all night, and in the morning were drawn up in line of battle, expecting orders to charge. About 8 o'clock the Eighty-ninth saw a courier galloping down the line. As he passed, the men shouted and threw up their caps. As he rode by the Eighty-ninth he shouted: "Lee has surrendered." The Eighty-ninth assisted in the celebration that night.

Seneca Kelly told of how, before Antietam, the boys couldn't get any sugar from the commissary department. Major Jardine heard of it. A wagon train carrying sugar came along and Major Jardine with a hatchet smashed in a barrel head and told the boys to help themselves. This reminded Captain Cormack that their first baby was born when he was at the front. He wanted to see that baby and allended? to General Jardine. The Major detailed Captain Cormack to recruiting service in New York. The Captain's trousers were worn out behind, so he covered up their deficiencies with a pair that was worn out in front, but sound in the rear. On the train nobody seemed to care to sit beside him, though the car was crowded. Finally a well-dressed, portly gentleman came in and looked a the vacant seat by the Captain, the only vacant one in the car. "Is this seat occupied?" he asked. "There are not more than fifty or sixty of us"." said the Captain.

Somebody told of when the Eighty-ninth was in the Army of the James, under General Butler. Butler was excavating the Dutch Gap canal between two points of the James river. The enemy threatened to bring out their Union prisoners so that Butler would be firing on his own men, if he fired. Butler brought out a lot of gray coated prisoners and put them in the cuttings and sendt word to the enemy that, by this and by that, they would be firing on their own men, too. This suggested reminiscences of the coolness and bravery of Colonel Fairchild, his strict discipline and his desire to save his men; though whern there was fighting to be done the Colonel was up and at it. Before Fredericksburg he ordered his men to lie down, while he himself sat upright, in his saddle.

A small recess was taken at this point to permit Comrade Thomas Brown to move to the other side of the fire without tipping up the rest of the party, and then some more reminiscences were encumbered. A call was made for the grasshopper and sweet potato vine song of Comrade Smith. The song was originally sung on the march from the Pamunkey to the James river, and the quartet was composed of Comrades Smith, Seneca Kelly, C.C. Hamiton and Irving H. Stringham, with Captain Smith as preceptor. But the words of th song could not be found yesterday, the notes were lost and Captain Smith and Seneca Kelly were not in good voice. The question was raised as to whether the rebellion could have been put down without the aid of the Eighty-ninth, and Honorary and Brevet Survivor Painter decided that it could not. By this time the outer dampness was so obtrusive that the putters down of the rebellion said that they would have to take boats to get home, as they did about thirty years ago when Fredericksburg was on one side of the Rappahanpock and they were on the other, if they didn't have marching orders prety quick. So the logs were stirred up into a final blaze and the retired fighters left the field in good order, to meet at Norwich next year.