1938: the Gettysburg Battlefield Claims its Final victims

John Hartwell

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From June 29 to July 6, 1938, almost two thousand Civil War veterans gathered at Gettysburg, for a 7-day Encampment and reunion marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle. All but a very few of them were over 90 years of age, 94 years was the average. Although all were Civil War veterans, only 25 of them had been at the original Battle of Gettysburg. We’ve all seen pictures of the proud old men gathered to remember the days of their youth -- my avatar photo is an example. But, the Pennsylvania battlefield was not yet through with the men in Blue and Gray. On the last day of the Encampment, it claimed three final victims.

On July 5th, 91-year-old John W. Cooper, a Confederate veteran from Largo, Fla., was rushed to Carlisle Military Hospital, suffering from a heart attack. There he joined Union veteran Daniel T. Price (also 91), of Marion, Ind., who had earlier contracted bronchial pneumonia. Both men died the next morning. A few hours later, 95-year-old ex-Confederate David T. Weaver, of Muldrow, Ok., who had been at the hospital since his heart attack at the Gettysburg railroad station, at the time of his arrival on June 29th, also passed on.

Gettysburg had claimed its final victims, seventy-five years after the battle ended.

I have not been able to identify the units or states of service of the two ex-Confederates. They are not listed under the states where they resided in 1938, and both names are common, with too many possibilities to choose from without further information. Period newspapers only say they were "Confederates."

Daniel T. Price, however, served in Co. L, 11th Indiana Cavalry (Find a Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSsr=81&GSvcid=204425&GRid=35601373&)
 
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PeterT

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#2
From June 29 to July 6, 1938, almost two thousand Civil War veterans gathered at Gettysburg, for a 7-day Encampment and reunion marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle. All but a very few of them were over 90 years of age, 94 years was the average. Although all were Civil War veterans, only 25 of them had been at the original Battle of Gettysburg. We’ve all seen pictures of the proud old men gathered to remember the days of their youth -- my avatar photo is an example. But, the Pennsylvania battlefield was not yet through with the men in Blue and Gray. On the last day of the Encampment, it claimed three final victims.

On July 5th, 91-year-old John W. Cooper, a Confederate veteran from Largo, Fla., was rushed to Carlisle Military Hospital, suffering from a heart attack. There he joined Union veteran Daniel T. Price (also 91), of Marion, Ind., who had earlier contracted bronchial pneumonia. Both men died the next morning. A few hours later, 95-year-old ex-Confederate David T. Weaver, of Muldrow, Ok., who had been at the hospital since his heart attack at the Gettysburg railroad station, at the time of his arrival on June 29th, also passed on.

Gettysburg had claimed its final victims, seventy-five years after the battle ended.

I have not been able to identify the units or states of service of the two ex-Confederates. They are not listed under the states where they resided in 1938, and both names are common, with too many possibilities to choose from without further information. Period newspapers only say they were "Confederates."

Daniel T. Price, however, served in Co. L, 11th Indiana Cavalry (Find a Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSsr=81&GSvcid=204425&GRid=35601373&)
Thanks for the story of these veterans.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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That is crazy- although unsurprising, you'd have to think. The vets were so elderly, distance traveled so long in summer heat- who knows how emotional it was? You wonder if they may have preferred it to being somewhere in a chair with a blanket over their knees.

Thanks for the story and research. These dates always get to me. 1938, my parents were 7 years old.
 

PeterT

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That is crazy- although unsurprising, you'd have to think. The vets were so elderly, distance traveled so long in summer heat- who knows how emotional it was? You wonder if they may have preferred it to being somewhere in a chair with a blanket over their knees.

Thanks for the story and research. These dates always get to me. 1938, my parents were 7 years old.
My Dad was 7 too!

He is still good. 85 in 2 weeks.
 

Northern Light

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I have always thought that it would be great to die while doing something you love or something that was important to you, rather than wasting away in a hospital bed, not knowing who you are anymore. Bless their hearts, they had the courage of their convictions, and the courage to take that last journey to Gettysburg.
 

John Hartwell

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Sources say there were about 8,000 ACW veterans living in 1938, the average age well into the 90s. Just about any who were physically able and wanted to attend could do so at little or no expense to themselves. Transportation, quarters, and subsistence was federally funded for each veteran and an accompanying attendant. The GAR, UCV, and local communities across the country offered additional help. It's really amazing that of the 1,359 Union and 486 Confederate nonagenarians that made the journey, and experienced the week of Encampment under canvas, all but these three men survived to make their way home.The First U.S. Army Medical Regiment staffed a field hospital in a building at Gettysburg College, and treated hundreds for exhaustion and other lesser problems, and the Carlisle Military Hospital was available for more serious cases. At the end, 32 veterans remained under treatment in Carlisle, and 9 more at Gettysburg -- but I believe all recovered.
Gen. John Milton Claypool, C-in-C of the UCV had been opposed to attending the Gettysburg Reunion, until questions were settled as to whether ex-Confederates would be allowed to march in their own uniforms and under the Confederate flag. He finally decided "I am willing to meet the Yankees on even footing ... I guess I can put up with them for a few days. As long as the Lord has stood [them] this long, I'll try my best to last it out." (quoted in several newspapers, June 1). After the end of the event, he was in a better mood: "I've just been tickled to death. I've been to lots of reunions, but never anything like this. It turned out to be better than anything I could conceive." At the depot about to board trains for the journey home, Claypool and GAR Commander Dr. Overton H. Mennett told thousands of well-wishers gathered to see them off that they had had "the greatest time in our lives!"
 

Yankeedave

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#9
I have always thought that it would be great to die while doing something you love or something that was important to you, rather than wasting away in a hospital bed, not knowing who you are anymore. Bless their hearts, they had the courage of their convictions, and the courage to take that last journey to Gettysburg.
They came home to die.
 

civilwarincolor

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I have always thought that it would be great to die while doing something you love or something that was important to you, rather than wasting away in a hospital bed, not knowing who you are anymore. Bless their hearts, they had the courage of their convictions, and the courage to take that last journey to Gettysburg.
I have to agree with your sentiment that we all have to go sometime, it might as well be doing something that we enjoy and not just in some mundane conclusion to our life.

That said it reminded me of an old joke.

When I die, I would like to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather did. Not screaming and yelling like the passenger in his car. - Jack Handey​
 

John Hartwell

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The psychological impact on these veterans must have been hard to deal with, to us, Gettysburg is a place of historic value, to them, so much more, including a very painful and traumatic memory of real events. Perhaps for some veterans it offered closure and it was time to move on.
We walk around its pastoral peace. Last time they saw gettysburg it was a smoking hell.
To some degree. But of the 1800+ ACW veterans there, only 25 had actually fought at Gettysburg. So the personal impact of that place was lessened to most. Still, it certainly brought back images of other fields in other theaters to most every man there. Probably meeting and reminiscing with other veterans had a greater impact. Reading about the ceremonies and other activities, (and the 200,000 or so 'tourists' who came to share the event), the men seem to have been kept well distracted and entertained. There doesn't appear to have been much time for solitary musing on the battlefield.

There seems to have been less an attitude of "Remembering Gettysburg" than of celebrating the Veterans themselves. That's one of the things Claypool was concerned about, that it not be the celebration of a great "Yankee Victory," but that all veterans be equally honored.
 
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Northern Light

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My Mum is 82 today! I am taking them both out for lunch. They said I'm taking them to the most expensive restaurant in their city! .... and why not! :smile:
You are lucky to be able to do this for your parents, Peter! Although I had both my parents for a long time, I miss them so! Enjoy your time with them and treasure it!
 



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