- Jun 2, 2017
The Grand Reunion of 1888, held on the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, was hailed as a time of reunion and reconciliation. It would also prove to be the first real meeting of many Union and Confederate veterans, Daniel Sickles, Henry Slocum, Joshua Chamberlain, James Longstreet and John B. Gordon among them. All these former enemies joined together in feelings of brotherhood and pride in the accomplishments of a reunited nation.
These feelings of friendship and brotherhood continued in the years to follow. These Generals and other high ranking officers from both armies would meet time and time again at regional reunions and national encampments to share their personal stories and war experiences.
Daniel Sickles at one of the many GAR Encampments he attended
Let's fast forward to the 28th National GAR Encampment held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania September 12th and 13th , 1894.
General John B Gordon, now a U.S. Senator from Georgia, was an invited guest of the GAR and was called on to make a brief speech. He rose to the podium, stood before a gathered crowd of some of the 6000 attendees, and began with these words:
“I have come here to shake hands with this old rascal, Sickles. For a long while we fired hot bullets at each other, but for some years we have been seeing who could love the other the most. We never had any trouble to find Sickles during the war, and he always let us know when he was around.”
His address was intensely patriotic and quite patronizing in its reference to General Daniel Sickles.
General John B. Gordon wartime photo
General Sickles must have thoroughly enjoyed Gordon's little speech as he afterward shook hands with everyone he could meet and said how glad he was to be there.
Two former heartfelt enemies in wartime---now two heartfelt friends in peace.
Credit: A big thank you is in order to @SWMODave who greatly helped in providing photos, text and the overall idea for this feature.
All photos from Library of Congress (LOC)
The National Tribune Sept 20, 1894
John Brown Gordon, 1832-1904. Reminiscences of the Civil War