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[p. 33]

The dedication of the soldiers' monument.

ALTHOUGH Usher's History of Medford contains a picture of the monument erected in honor of those citizens of Medford who fell in their country's defense, there is no record given of the ceremony of dedication. Pamphlets containing the oration, and flimsy four page programmes are the only records of the services, and probably only a few of these exist. The date of the consecration was September 6, 1866.

A procession formed in the square at one o'clock in the afternoon and was made up as follows:—

  • Boston Brigade Band.
  • Escort.
  • Lawrence Rifles.
  • Lawrence Light Guard.
  • All those who served in the Army or Navy during the war.
  • Officers of the town, the clergy, and past members of the Cemetery Committee.
  • Fire Department.
  • Mount Hermon Lodge of Masons.
  • High and Grammar Schools.
  • Citizens of the town.

Joseph W. Mitchell, Chairman of the Cemetery Committee, was Chief Marshal.

The Consecration Services were held at Oak Grove Cemetery, at three o'clock.

The following was the programme:—

  • instrumental Music by the Band.
  • Introductory address by the Chief Marshal.
  • original Hymn.

    by John Viall.
    While around this sacred spot,
         Weeping ones are bending low;
    In thy love, forget us not,
         On each heart Thy grace bestow;

    [p. 34] Here we dedicate to Thee,
         Holy ground for honored dead;
    Rest, for weary souls shall be,
         Rest, in Christ our living Head.

    Bravely they have fought and won,
         Triumphed over every foe,
    And the plaudit of ‘Well done,’
         Meed of praise we now bestow.

    Gracious Savior! Faithful One!
         Lay their heads on Thy dear breast.
    Free from war, their work is (lone;
         Take them in Thine arms to rest.

  • Selections from Scripture.
  • prayer.
  • Hymn.
  • Sung at Consecration of monument at Gettysburg.
  • address. Rev. Charles Brooks.
  • instrumental Music by the Band.
  • remarks by citizens, Interspersed with Music by the Band.
  • national Hymn.
  • Benediction.

Mr. Brooks' address was published later by the Lawrence Light Guard, and dedicated to it. Many of his utterances seem strained, now that the stress of those terrible years is passed, but we cull the following extracts, which contain words worth consideration today.

H. T. W.

soldiers, neighbors, and fellow-citizens,
You all know why we have come to this city of the dead. Upon the sides of this solid and beautiful cenotaph are graven, in letters of stone, the following names:—

Lieut. Col. J. G. Chambers, Lieut., William H. Burbank, Edward Gustine, L. M. Fletcher, Frank A. Keen, E. Sprague, D. T. Newcomb, D. Nolan, A. H. Stacy, D. McGillicuddy, S. Harding, J. Stetson, J. M Powers, C. W. Willis, F. Curtin, James Haley, J. P. Hubbell, James Bierne, A. Joyce, Patrick Gleason, Augustus [p. 35] Tufts, R. Livingston, F. J. Curtis, B. J. Ellis, H. G. Currell, E. Ireland, William H. Rogers, William Harding, H. R. Hathaway, H. Mills, G. H. Lewis, J. M. Garrett,1 D. S. Cheney, R. W. Cheslyn, M. O'Connell, Sergt. S. M. Stevens, Sergt. J. T. Morrison, J. M. Fletcher, E. B. Hatch, R. C. Hathaway, G. H. Champlin, C. H. Coolidge, S. W. Joyce.

The front side, in raised letters, reads thus: “In honor of the Medford Volunteers who sacrificed their lives in defence of the Union. Fallen heroes leave fragrant memories. 1866.” Forty-three self-sacrificing patriots. Twelve of our brothers were killed in battle; twelve died in prison; three died of their wounds; and the rest died of disease.

This beautiful color, waving the stripes and stars before you, was torn in three places by rifle-balls. It was presented by the ladies of Medford to the Lawrence Light Guard, and carried by them to the front in Virginia; and, when they were called into battle, William H. Lawrence, with a firm and dauntless step, carried it forward, facing the foe, and calling to his comrades to hasten after him; and, at the moment when he was ordered to retreat, a ball pierced his heart, and he fell dead upon his flag, where his blood can now be seen in its folds. It is another precious memorial among us of bravery and of death.

Medford honors itself in honoring its martyrs; and, as long as this granite column endures, succeeding generations will read it with gratitude. It is a most fit expression of our thankful hearts to those young lovers of their country, who were ready to leave father and mother, wife and children, and expose their lives to the shot and bayonets of a host of infuriated rebels. Their burning thought was to save their country. They died, but their country lives. Let there be no bounds, then, to our gratitude; and, as long as memory lives, let the names on this monument be sanctified in our hearts; and let it be [p. 36] used, moreover, to express our gratitude to all the skilful officers and brave men of the army and navy who achieved such decisive victories over the enemies of our country.

This memorial shaft speaks to us also of our manhood and national character. The rush of our heroes to the ranks, when they heard the first gun against Fort Sumter, proved—what? It proved, conclusively, that we had a New England, and a national character already formed in the souls of these patriots, lying silent and unseen till the country called for it; and, when it did call, it found these men to be intense Americans, intense New Englanders, intense Medfordites. Medford recognized them with one universal shout of approbation.

Have not these facts taught us about our manhood and our national character? We feel now, as this generation has never felt before, the vital force of patriotic principle, and the solemn obligation of patriotic duty. Do we not feel this new meaning of the word patriotism tingling from our central heart to every extremity? Our soldiers and sailors have taught us this, and are they not our permanent benefactors? They have brought to light this new nation in our midst.

Again, these memorial pillars testify to the power of our Constitution to bear the new and untried strain of a gigantic civil war. Our Constitution proved a safe compass on a stormy sea.

Furthermore, this column suggests to us our duties. It asks us to love our Union more and more every month, and to watch with eagle eyes the doings of its enemies.

Among the imperative and Christian duties of our country now is the education of the freedmen. In the immortal proclamation of President Lincoln, January 1, 1863, there is an implied promise that the United States would instruct the freedmen in the new rights and new duties of their new condition. That divine proclamation changed all the slaves—into what? Not into orangoutangs, [p. 37] not into angels, but into citizens. Citizens they are, nothing more and nothing less; and, as citizens and human beings, they have as much right to instruction and development as they have right to food. At this moment, they ask of us this bread: shall we give them a stone?

This granite pillar seems to connect itself with all the parts and questions of our civil war. It calls up the marvellous ingenuity of our people, shown from the iron-clads and cannon to defend our cities, and destroy our enemies, to the Sanitary Commission to heal our wounded, and feed our hungry; from man in his noble daring, to woman in her angel ministries.

Soldiers and fellow-citizens, we now solemnly bequeath this hallowed monument to our succeeding generations in Medford. Let it stand in its simple power, protected, not only from sacrilegious hands, but from thoughtless fracture, misplaced pencillings, and offensive scratches. Let nothing be done to it that can lessen its silent eloquence, or destroy its patriotic design.

We have given it in our hearts to our successors. When your children's children shall read the history of our dreadful war, and understand its momentous tendencies, then will they come to this consecrated monument, blackened as it will be by the storms of a century, and read with swelling hearts the names of the Medford volunteers who sacrificed their lives in defence of the Union. Fifty years hence, let the hoary-headed soldier come, and kneel in prayer as he calls to mind the young friend who fell at his side. Here let the aged mother come to read the name of her patriot son. Here let the statesman come to learn what union and liberty have cost. Here let the historian come to meditate on those central truths which shape the destinies of the world. Here let the poet come, and celebrate in sweetest lays the victories of truth and the triumph of right. Here let love come, that it may carry away inspiration; and beauty come, that she may leave here her garlands.

1 Probably a misprint. Carret?

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