During the Centennial celebration at Yorktown
the Aaron Wilkes Post No. 23
, G. A. R., of Trenton, N. J.
, extended their trip to Richmond
and were entertained at an impromptu banquet by the veterans
of the Richmond Howitzers
, the old First Virginia regiment and the Otey battery.
So pleased were the visitors at their hospitable reception that soon after their return home they sent a committee to Richmond
, bearing gifts and a hearty invitation from Wilkes Post to visit them in Trenton
The kind invitation was accepted and arrangements for the visit entrusted to a committee.
Captain David N. Walker
was made officer in charge.
About seventy-five men, representing the three organizations above named, composed the visiting party.
We left Richmond
April 12th, on the 5 A. M. train, all hands having been made “Colonels
” by the officer in charge.
It was a jolly party “on pleasure bent.”
we received several recruits in the persons of old Otey battery men resident there, and at Philadelphia
Here also the party was met by a committee of gentlemen from Wilkes Post, who had been sent on to meet and welcome us at, as it were, the outer wall.
The enthusiasm there was great and evidenced great heartiness of esteem.
, the genial commander who came with Wilkes Post to Richmond
, was with this committee, and his countenance was radiant with pleasure as he grasped the many hands extended to greet him.
The arrival of the train at Trenton
was announced by an artillery salute.
The entire military force of the town were in waiting for escort duty, and Wilkes Post and its auxiliary corps were out in full force.
The lines was formed, military and Wilkes Post in front and the ex-Confederates following.
The line of march led through the principal streets of the town, which were filled with people, cheering, waving flags, and indulging in every possible form of welcome.
The whole town was out. Bells were rung on engine-house, churches, locomotives and fire-engines
Whistles were blown in the workshops and cannon fired from the house-tops.
Many residences were handsomely decorated.
After the march the visitors were left at their hotel long enough to brush up and lunch, and were then taken to the Wilkes Post Industrial Exhibition
at Taylor's Hall, where they were received with marked courtesy by the ladies and gentlemen in charge.
The visit to the Exposition over, at about 10 P. M., hosts and guests assembled at the hotel, and arm in arm marched into the banquet, spread on three immense tables in the dining-hall.
Senator John Taylor
, of Trenton
Toasts were read to “The South,” “The old First Virginia,” “The Otey Battery,” “Our country,” “Richmond
“The old Dominion,” &c., &c., and appropriate responses were made.
The speeches on both sides were manly, generous, free from cant, and such as befit soldiers.
It was “the next day” when the whole company united in singing the Star Spangled Banner.
On the morning of the 13th, carriages appeared at the hotel as if by magic.
The private carriages of many of the best citizens of Trenton
were amongst them.
Each carriage contained at least one Wilkes Post man as guide.
So we went to see the sights.
The first place visited was the State House
, a very neat and handsome building, where we were welcomed by his Excellency
, in a very pleasant little address to which Major Chas. S. String
And this reminds me that the Major
had already been called upon to respond to the address of welcome of the Mayor
of the town and had done it handsomely.
We were then guided to all the places of interest in and about the town, seeing, in the course of the ride a great Stud Farm, the wonderful Potteries, the great Steel and Iron Works, Rubber Works, &c., &c.
This accomplished the guests returned to the hotel and prepared for the reception tendered by the ladies, at Taylor's Opera House.
The parquette of the fine theatre was planked over for dancing, and the house was tastefully decorated.
A fine band was in attendance and discoursed appropriate music.
The Governor and his staff were present in full dress and were very agreeable and earnest in their attentions.
The ladies, maid and matron, were there in full force, and were, of course, the “light” of the occasion.
Did we dance?
On the morning of the 14th, after a most delightful visit, the ex-Confeds.
left for home, bearing with them a keen sense of the extreme good taste, hospitality and generosity of the entertainment which they had received — for, notwithstanding the number and variety of the means used to make our stay agreeable, and the fact that we numbered nearly one hundred we were not allowed to pay for anything in Trenton
I sincerely believe that friendships were formed there which will endure till the parties to them are no more.