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intrusted the arrangements for that purpose to the agent of the State of Pennsylvania. The Boston city authorities, in concert with the Governor of Massachusetts, sent an efficient committee to Gettysburg, who made the removals of the Massachusetts dead by their own special arrangement.
The consecration of these cemetery grounds was, in due time, suggested by Governor Curtin. The name of Hon. Edward Everett was submitted to the Governors of all the States interested, as the orator to deliver the Address on that occasion, and they unanimously concurred in him as the person eminently suitable for the purpose. A letter of invitation was accordingly addressed to him, inviting him to deliver the Oration. He accepted the duty, and the 19th of November was fixed upon as the day. Hon. W. H. Lamon, the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, was selected as the Chief Marshal of the civic procession, and to Major-General D. N. Couch, commanding the department of the Susquehannah, were committed the arrangements for the military. To all of these gentlemen great credit is due for the admirable manner in which they discharged the duties of the positions assigned them. Birgfield's Brigade Band of Philadelphia was invited to furnish the music for the ceremonial of consecration, which was done gratuitously, and in a very acceptable manner. The Presidential party was accompanied by the Marine Band from the Navy Yard at Washington, and the military detachment was attended by the Brass Band from Fort McHenry, Baltimore.
The public generally were invited to be present and participate in these solemn exercises, and special invitations were sent to the President and Vice-President of the United States and the members of the Cabinet, - to Major-General George G. Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac, and, through him, to the officers and privates of that army which had fought so valiantly, and gained such a memorable victory on the Gettysburg battle-field, — and to Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott and Admiral Charles Stewart, the distinguished and time-honored representatives of the Army and Navy. The President of the United States was present, and participated in these solemnities, delivering a brief Dedicatory
Address. The occasion was further made memorable by the presence of large representations from the army and navy, of the Secretary of State of the United States, the Ministers of France and Italy, the French Admiral, and other distinguished foreigners, and several members of Congress, also of the Governors of a large number of the States interested, with their staffs, and, in some instances, large delegations, besides a vast concourse of citizens from all the States.
Letters were received, in reply to the invitations addressed to them, from Major-General Meade, Lieutenant-General Scott, Admiral Charles Stewart, and the Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. S. P. Chase, regretting their inability to be present, and expressive of their approval of the project.
One of the most sad and impressive features of the solemnities of the 19th of November was the presence, in the procession and on the grounds, of a delegation of about fifty wounded soldiers of the Army of the Potomac, from the York Hospital. These men had been wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg, and were present in a delegation to pay this just tribute to the remains of their fallen comrades. During the exercises their bronzed cheeks were frequently suffused with tears, indicative of their heartfelt sympathy in the solemn scene before them. From none others could tears of unfeigned grief fall upon these graves with so much sad appreciation. These scarred veterans came and dropped the tear of sorrow on the last resting-place of those companions by whose sides they so nobly fought, and, lingering over the graves after the crowd had dispersed, slowly went away, strengthened in their faith in a nation's gratitude.
GETTYSBURG, August 17, 1863 To HIS EXCELLENCY A. G. CURTIN,
Governor of Pennsylvania. Sir, — By virtue of the authority reposed in me by your Excellency, I have invited the coöperation of the several loyal States having soldier-dead on the battle-field around this place in the noble project of removing their remains from their present exposed and imperfectly buried condition, on the fields for miles around, to a cemetery.
The chief executives of fifteen out of the seventeen States have already responded, in most instances pledging their States to unite in the movement; in a few instances highly approving of the project, and stipulating to urge upon their legislatures to make appropriations to defray their proportionate share of expense.
I have also, at your request, selected and purchased the grounds for this cemetery, the land to be paid for by, and the title to be made to, the State of Pennsylvania, and to be held in perpetuity, devoted to the object for which purchased.
The grounds embrace about seventeen acres on Cemetery Hill, fronting on the Baltimore turnpike, and extending to the Taneytown road. It is the ground which formed the apex of our triangular line of battle, and the key to our line of defences. It embraces the highest point on Cemetery Hill, and overlooks the whole battle-field. It is the spot which should be specially consecrated to this sacred purpose. It was here that such immense quantities of our artillery were massed, and during Thursday and Friday of the battle, from this most important point on the field, dealt out death and destruction to the Rebel army in every direction of their advance.
I have been in conference, at different times, with agents sent here by the Governors of several of the States, and we have arranged details for carrying out this sacred work. I herewith enclose you a copy of the proposed arrangement of details, a copy of which I have also sent to the chief executive of each State having dead here.
I have also, at your suggestion, cordially tendered to each State the privilege, if they desire, of joining in the title to the land.
I think it would be showing only a proper respect for the health of this community not to commence the exhuming of the dead, and removal to the cemetery, until the month of November; and in the mean time the grounds should be artistically laid out, and consecrated by appropriate ceremonies.
I am, with great respect,
PENNSYLVANIA EXECUTIVE CHAMBER,
HARRISBURG, PA., August 21, 1863. DEAR SIR, – Yours of the 26th instant was duly received, and ought to have been answered sooner, but you know how I am pressed.
I am much pleased with the details for the cemetery which you have so thoughtfully suggested, and will be glad, so far as is in my power, to hasten their consummation on the part of Pennsylvania.
It is of course probable that our sister States joining with us in this hallowed undertaking may desire to make some alterations and modifications of your proposed plan of purchasing and managing these sacred grounds, and it is my wish that you give to their views the most careful and respectful consideration. Pennsylvania will be so highly honored by the possession within her limits of this soldiers' mausoleum, and so much distinguished among the other States by their contributions in aid of so glorious a monument to patriotism and humanity, that it becomes her duty, as it is her melancholy
pleasure, to yield in every reasonable way to the wishes and suggestions of the States, who join with her in dedicating a portion of her territory to the solemn uses of a national sepulchre.
The proper consecration of the grounds must claim our early attention ; and, as soon as we can do so, our fellow-purchasers should be invited to join with us in the performance of suitable ceremonies on the occasion. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. G. CURTIN. David WILLS, Esq.
GETTYSBURG, PA., September 23, 1863. HON. EDWARD EVERETT:
SIR, The several States having soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, who fell at the Battle of Gettysburg in July last, gallantly fighting for the Union, have made arrangements here for the exhuming of all their dead, and their removal and decent burial in a cemetery selected for that purpose on a prominent part of the battle-field.
The design is to bury all in common, marking with headstones, with the proper inscription, the known dead, and to erect a suitable monument to the memory of all these brave men, who have thus sacrificed their lives on the altar of their country.
This burial-ground will be consecrated to this sacred and holy purpose on Thursday, the 23d day of October next, with appropriate ceremonies, and the several States interested have united in the selection of you to deliver the Oration on that solemn occasion. I am therefore instructed by the Governors of the different States interested in this project to invite you cordially to join with them in the ceremonies, and to deliver the oration for the occasion. Hoping to have an early and favorable reply from you, I remain, Sir, your most obedient servant,