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[387]

The statue exposed to view.

Little Miss Meems Pulls the Cord—Salutes and Cheers—The lunch.


General Walker occupied about forty-five minutes in delivering his speech. At its conclusion the Maryland Band played a short air, and Master Lewis Walke Brander, son of Major Thomas A. Brander, picked little Virginia Preston Meems up in his arms and carried her from the grand-stand to the unveiling-stand.

It was a pretty picture as he threaded his way through the mass of veterans with the dainty, dark-haired little one clinging to him, her arms around his neck and her soft eyes full of wonder.

Litttle Virginia is a granddaughter of Colonel William H. Palmer, General Hill's chief of staff. On the unveiling-stand had gathered the flag-bearers of the various veteran organizations, and the child in her fluttering white dress was a striking centre-piece to this group.


The great scene.

At 2 o'clock a bugle gave the signal to commence firing. This was answered by a gun loaded and fired by a detail from the Pegram Battalion Association and little Miss Meems pulling the red cords that laced together the canvass. It dropped, exposing the statue to view. For a second there was a dead silence; then cheer after cheer burst from the vast throng, which rang out clear above the guns of the Howitzers on the right and the crash of musketry on the left. The infantry fire opened with a skirmish rattle, but soon came down to steady, well-delivered volleys.

It was not long after the salute had been fired before the order came to fall in, and the return march to the Exposition building was commenced.


The lunch in the afternoon.

After the unveiling ceremonies were over the veterans and young infantrymen and cavalrymen fell into line and proceeded to the Exposition Grounds, where a splendid lunch had been prepared under the auspices of the Ladies' Auxiliary of Lee Camp. The spread was served in the main building, and the interior of this place presented a jolly scene indeed, when the marchers were safely esconced around the festive board. Arms had been staked in long lines, [388] and men in uniforms of all descriptions entered the great struggle to get to the tables.

The lunch was daintily served without form or ceremony, by a number of ladies, and it would but do them justice to say that the magnificent manner in which they managed the large concourse of hungry soldiers bespoke their proficiency as caterers.

Immediately upon entering the hall the large letters ‘Richmond Beer’ struck the eye of every one, and it was here that the weary, thirsty pedestrian satisfied both these feelings with a few glasses of that well-known beverage, which is made right at home. Not far distant from this place was the lemonade and ice-water stand, which was also a spot of great solace and comfort to the more temperate soldiers.


The old First.

The members of the ‘Old First’ were in a particularly jolly humor, and after refreshing themselves they secured seats, and quite a little time was spent in recounting war incidents.

Not a single drunken man was observed in the Exposition building.

It was a pretty sight when all the militia were in line in the main hall and the column was marching around to the delightful strains of music furnished by the Great Southern Band, of Baltimore.


Lunch at Laburnum.

The beautiful country residence of Mr. Joseph Bryan, ‘Laburnum,’ situated just south of the monument, presented in the highest sense a perfect type of Virginia hospitality. Guests to the number of three hundred had been invited in an informal way, including the orator of the day, Chief Marshal General Heth and staff, the Governor of Virginia and staff, General Fitzhugh Lee, General Dabney H. Maury, and other distinguished guests.

A large tented dining-table extended across the spacious and beautiful lawn, and at either end were tents from which was dispensed from the rich and healthful lactilic and cooling cold tea to the more substantial Appollinaris water. Beautiful young ladies from the city and country, friends of the family, and others assisted the gracious host and hostess in their untiring efforts to give substantial comforts to their guests. It was a real old Virginia spread, dispensed in old Virginia style, and one which was not only enjoyed, but one which will not soon be forgotten.

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