GDG- 75th Reunion in Gettysburg in 1938

Matt Diestel agatematt at
Fri Jan 27 11:35:20 CST 2012

> Esteemed GDG MemberTom Ryan  Contributes:

> At 1 p.m. today, I will be visiting someone who lives in the community that
> attended the subject reunion.  Apparently, that is also when FDR dedicated
> the Peace Light Memorial.
> This person has photos of his experience, and his grandfather's discharge
> papers from the AoP.
> I have not met this person before, and he had contacted me to come see his
> memorobilia.
> What do I need to know about this reunion, and what questions should I ask
> this gentleman (who I guess is in his 80's or 90's)?
> Tom Ryan
>        Tom,

>     The 1938 reunion of the Blue and Gray was the last great joint get
> together of both the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate
> Veterans with some 3,800 survivors coming from all over the nation --
> literally from Maine to California.

       One of the "Boys in Blue" was my great-grandfather Veteran Cpl.
Albert L. Akers, 17th Ohio Veteran Volunteers -- Army of the
Cumberland/Army of Georgia. He first joined the 17th as a 17 year old in
April 1861 and enlisted for three years when the regiment was reconstituted
in August 1861, re-enlisted as a veteran soldier in December 1863. There
are some mighty interesting etc involving his service but will leave those
for now. He was living in Indianapolis at the time with his second wife ---
a sprightly widow of 60 when he married her at age 80.
      Remember my grandfather telling me that when his father and
step-mother came out to Southern California for Christmas that year, one of
the things about the reunion which all the old soldiers were interested in
was the then "modern day" U.S. Army units that were camped at Gettysburg as
well. The tanks (which were all of World War I vintage) and machine guns
were of particular interest.
     The other thing which in retrospect so caught my grandfather's memory
banks was --- in light of how the age of mechanized warfare was less than a
year away when the Germans invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939 with the first
blitzkreig ---  was his father's words as to how little the Army had
changed since the 1860s with its cavalry units and horse-drawn artillery
etc. (At that time, the U.S. Army ranked 17th in the world --- tied with
Romania --- and the Polish Army actually had more combat ready tanks than
did this nation's "armor force.")
    In a letter to his son, my great-grandfather wrote on the train ride
home that July, he noted how, while they were established in separate GAR &
UCV camps, the veterans from both side mingled freely and openly where one
time hostility had been replaced by good nature jesting and the swapping of
stories as seemingly all the old soldiers knew this was their last hurrah
--- that they were too old and too few ever to hold another event like that
at Gettysburg.
    One thing that note --- every veteran was assigned a personal attendant
who was dispatched by the organization sponsoring the reunion to the
veteran's home and traveled with them to Gettysburg, remained with them
during the event and then saw them safely home again. Also, passage was
paid for any veteran who wanted to attend but who finances would not allow
    When I think of the 75th reunion what always come to my mind is the
iconic picture of the last surviving members of Pickett's Division and the
Philadelphia Brigade who were able to attend  shaking hands over the
stonewall at The Angle. At least to me, it has always symbolized that
despite the different colors of the veteran uniforms they wore, all the men
pictured were Americans --- citizens of an united nation.
             With regards,

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