HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY

CHAPTER XVI.

REUNION OF VETERAN SOLDIERS.

     For a year or two after the close of the war, Reunions of veteran
soldiers were very common in Perry county. These, however, were
usually originated and managed by ladies, and were mostly held in
the country or in the vicinity of small villages. There was, on these occasions, 
always a good dinner, and in some cases the lay out of eatables 
was most extraordinary. All the labor and expense was cheerfully
incurred by the ladies, in order that the returned veterans might have
a good time, and as a manifestation of their good will toward them. After
a year or two, however, this style of Reunion gradually ceased, and except 
for the pinching times that came, as a consequence of the war and
an undue inflation of currency, it seemed almost forgotten that a great
war had occurred, and that in almost every household, were carefully
filed away scores of tender missives from brave boys in blue, whose
hands would never write again.
     As the years rolled away and the ranks of the returned veterans began
to thin out by death, military reunions revived, in all parts of the country, 
and in this county. A few years since there was a Reunion of the
ex-soldiers of Perry county, on the County Fair Ground, near New
Lexington, during one of the days of the annual County Fair. There
was a large attendance of veterans, who formed in front of the court
house, under command of Colonel L. J. Jackson, from which place they
marched to the Fair Ground, where the entire body was admitted free
to the exhibition then in progress. There was not much opportunity
for ceremony, speeches, or business, and little was had, but the Reunion
was large and successful.
     The Thirty-First Ohio Regimental Reunion is the only one of this
kind ever held in the county; but it was highly successful, and held in
September, 1882. The following account of the Reunion is from the
New Lexington Tribune, of October 4th, 1882:

     REUNION OF THE THIRTY-FIRST OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY.---
The Annual Reunion of the Thirty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry was
celebrated in this place on Wednesday, September 26th. Many business 
houses and quite a number of private dwellings were handsomely
decorated, as was also the court room, where the Reunion exercises
were held. Several pictures of army scenes were hung behind, the
Judge's stand, including one representing the charge made by the brigade 
of which the Thirty-first Ohio was a part, at Stone River.
     The Veterans formed at the C. & M. V. depot, about 11 a. m., and
under the escort of the New Lexington Guards and a fine band of
martial music, marched up Water and Main streets to the Court House,
where Colonel Moses B. Walker, of Findlay, promptly called the meeting

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to order, after which an appropriate and eloquent speech of welcome 
was delivered by his Honor, Mayor J. E. Johnston. Colonel L.
J. Jackson responded in behalf of the veterans in appropriate terms.
Then a recess was taken for dinner.
     Upon reassembling, in the afternoon, the roll of the living members
of the veterans of the regiment was called by companies. Every company 
was represented, though some of them, from the more distant
parts, by only a few members. Three of the companies, A D and G,
went out from Perry county, commanded respectively by J. W. Free,
William H. Free and L. J. Jackson. Licking and Hocking each had
a company. The others were from more distant parts of the State.
There was one company from Union, one from Clark, and one from
Auglaize. Delaware also furnished a company, or part of one.
     After the roll call, Colonel Walker delivered the Oration, according
to programme. It was an able and eloquent effort, and brought out
much applause. Walker is a brainy man and eloquent of speech, but
he is growing old, as are many of the veterans, and he did not make such
a finished and classical speech as he did from the same platform, eighteen 
years ago, when the Thirty-first was home on veteran furlough,
for thirty days.
     After the regular oration, letters were read from absent members,
and then speeches were made by Captain H. C. Greiner, Colonel L. J.
Jackson, Major J. W. Free and, Comrade J. P. Frances, of Newark,
Ohio. Frances said that Colonel Walker and other speakers had been
entirely too modest. He then eulogized Colonel Walker in the highest
terms, and asserted that there were in the Thirty-first Ohio, and from
this very town of New Lexington and neighborhood, as brave men as
ever trod a battle-field in either ancient or modern times.
     Most of the speakers had amusing or pathetic anecdotes of the war
to relate. Two of them are brief, and are here given: Captain Greiner
said that on one occasion a cannon ball had gone through a mule, and
quick as thought Garrett Hayden, a member of Company A, from Saltlick 
township, said, “ there was a d---d good place for a window !” At
Jonesboro the Colonel of the Thirty-eighth Ohio was shot dead in the
battle. Just after the fight, when the body of the Colonel was being
taken from the field, and all about was still as death, John Anderson, a
private in the Thirty-eighth, half crying, said to a, squad of Thirty-first 
soldiers, “ That is two young Colonels the Thirty-eighth has had
killed, and you have your d---d old Colonel yet.”
     Major J. W. Free was fixed up for a good speech, and was about to
begin speaking of the one hundred and one men of his original company 
who left this county in August, 1861, when he broke completely
down, and could not say another word.
     The night session was devoted to business affairs principally, but
more good short speeches were made and other good army anecdotes
related. The committee appointed to report upon a place of meeting
for the ensuing year divided, the majority report being for Logan and
the minority report in favor of Mt. Gilead. After some discussion, the
minority report was adopted, and Mt. Gilead agreed upon as the place
for a Reunion, to be held on the second Wednesday of August, 1883.
     The Reunion was a success in every way. The battle flags of the

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regiment had been sent down from Columbus, and were Carefully 
uncovered and placed around the speaker's stand. They were mute but
eloquent historians of the awful conflicts through which the regiment
passed.
     The name of Payton Shields, a private of Captain Bill Free’s 
company, was received with great enthusiasm. Mr. Shields was one of
General Thomas’ most efficient and reliable scouts, and put his neck in
jeopardy hundreds of times. He was at one time during the war blown
up on a steamboat on the Mississippi, was two hours and a half in the
water, floated seven miles, and narrowly escaped drowning. Ever
since that dreadful night he has been to a greater or less degree afflicted,
and at times has nervous fits, in which he involuntarily strikes with his
hands and feet like a drowning man, as he did that dark night in the
cheerless water of the Mississippi. Mr. Shields was present, one of
the most modest, retiring men in the assembly. It was with difficulty
that he could be persuaded to stand up a moment that the audience
might see him.
     Several of the veterans came hundreds of miles to attend the 
Reunion; one traveled over a thousand miles to get here. The far away
States of Kansas and Iowa had their representatives. It was good to
see the old veterans meet, shake hands and talk over the old times. It
was also painful to see some of them fail to recognize each other, in
consequence of the changes of so many years.
	The Thirty-first left Camp Chase, ten hundred and forty strong,
September 26, 1861. It received three or four hundred recruits during
the war, and yet was mustered out in 1861; with only two hundred and
ten men. It probably did as hard fighting and marching as any regiment 
in the service.
     General Walker said he could only speak generally of the dead, yet he
must name the intrepid Colonel W. H. Free, who was loved by every
man in the regiment, and was as brave as any that ever shouldered a
musket or drew a sword.
     Most of the veterans remained over night and attended the night
session. Many ladies graced the Reunion with their presence.
     The following is the list of comrades present:
     Officers---President, M. B. Walker; First Vice President, Major J.
W. Free; Second Vice President, James P. Frances; Secretary, James
C. Walker; Colonel Lyman J. Jackson, C. C. March.
     Company A---G. Hayden, G. W. Gordon, D. Mariart, S.W. White,
Captain H. C. Greiner, M. Barnes, A. D. Hemry, A. J. Gordon, J. A.
Grant, Captain W. F. Bennet, J. Powell, H. J. Strait, Asa Harbaugh,
J. Shrieves, E. G. Spurrier, Alf Wilson, Samuel Longstreth, Eli Strait,
Samuel Stainbrook, P. P. Stotler.
     Company B---R. C. Kitsmiller, W. H. Martin, Ben Bond, J. L.
Rouse, T. D. Wood, D. B. Whitcraft, J. W. Campbell.
     Company C---Captain W. S. Carlisle, D. C. Henry.
     Company D---J. F. Whipps, G. W. Watts, W. M. Sanders, L. L.
Norris, T. W. Tracy, Payton Shields, A. Brown, J. B. Selby, W. E.
Norris.
     Company E---J. Culver, A. H. Cutter, Joseph Hennis, Captain L. M.
Cunard, A. H. Cunard, J. A. Closson.

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Company F---H. N. Simmons, Joseph Rice, B. Brown, Dr. Jerome
Oatley.
     Company G---Horatio Sowers, Jacob Carnicour, Charles Hatenfels,
David Brown, Captain C. L. Williams, Dick Brown, W. H. Russell,
J, Ridenour, H. W. Lasure, George Essington, F. T. Smith, George
Nichols, James O’Neal, Isaac Souslin, J. M. Dodd, J. H. Boling.
     Company H---Theo. Warthen, W. M. Parkinson, D. H. Barrick,
William Spence, H. Allspaugh, John Jones, G. B. Woodcock, C. E.
Darlington, W. Vanasdal, D. G. Mills, H. C. Burch.
     Company I---W. W. McDonald, R. Stringfellow.
     Company K---Captain A. S. Scott.
     Regimental Band---D. Oblinger, T. H. Battan.

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