GALLIPOLIS — “I am sure that tears were shed by these patriots in heaven on the day that the original monument was taken from this place of honor, but I am sure that again tears are being shed today, except these are tears of joy.”
These were the words of Jonathan Davis, Ohio Department Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), during a dedication ceremony held this past Saturday in Pine Street Cemetery at a newly erected memorial that honors all those who fought in the Civil War.
The placement of the monument and the subsequent dedication ceremony by the local camp of the SUVCW, the Cadot-Blessing Camp #126 of Gallipolis, fulfills their commitment to the memory of their ancestors, according to Davis, as SUVCW members and as heirs of the Grand Army of the Republic — the largest Union Civil War veterans’ organization.
“We, as members of the allied orders, which consists of the Women’s Relief Corps, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic and Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, have made a commitment to keep alive memory and knowledge concerning the boys in blue,” Davis said. “Everything we do in or for our orders, whether we are participating in Memorial Day observances, headstone dedications, programs in public schools, programs or lectures and presentations, or marching in a parade, it’s all a part of our cause, our mission, our legacy to the boys in blue. Brothers of Cadot-Blessing Camp #126, by placing this monument, you are fulfilling this commitment.”
Saturday’s dedication ceremony comes almost exactly 145 years after a similar monument was placed among the graves of Civil War soldiers who are resting in Pine Street Cemetery — a monument, the fate of which, still remains unknown.
During the ceremony, Henry Myers of the Cadot-Blessing Camp explained that the nearly year-and-a-half search for this monument and subsequently erection of a new monument began following the discovery of a newspaper article dated June 3, 1868.
The article, re-discovered by John Holcomb of Vinton, a local historian, according to Myers, was published in The Gallipolis Bulletin — a weekly publication that was published every Wednesday morning in the years following the Civil War — and describes the events of May 30, 1868, the first Memorial Day, or as it was known as then, Decoration Day.
During his remarks, Myers paraphrased the article that describes the elaborate memorial dedicated in Pine Street Cemetery in 1868 — the monument that is now missing.
“[A] beatiful monument had been erected, in the north corner, 12 feet high, inscribed on the side, ‘lives sacrificed to American Liberty;’ on the opposite side, “from ‘61 to ‘65;” on the other side, ‘vincit amor patricæ,’ meaning ‘love of country conquers,’ and ‘post cineres gloria venit,’ meaning ‘glory to the highest of God. The monument was also ornamented by a flag, draped and crossed swards with shield in evergreens and laurel leaves,” Myers said.
“No one knows what happened to this monument. We’ve done a lot of research and we haven’t found out anything. I dug around the flag pole and we found what appears to be the base where the monument was sitting on,” Myers commented. “We’re here today to dedicate a new memorial.”
The new memorial stands where it is presumed the original stood, among the the graves of those unclaimed American soldiers who perished at the U.S. Army General Hospital at Gallipolis — a large hospital that was established in 1862 in Gallipolis near the site of Camp Carrington to treat the sick soldiers there, but later became a hospital treating both sick and wounded Union and Confederate Soldiers that were transported there.
Of the approximately 154 Civil War soldiers buried in Pine Street Cemetery — including the handful of Confederate Soldiers buried there — approximately 114 are listed as “Unknown US Soldier” and hail from numerous states surrounding Ohio.
The guest speaker at Saturday’s event, State Rep. Ryan Smith of the 93rd Ohio House District, a resident and native of Gallia County, also spoke of this history and the pride that he feels in knowing that there exists such a rich history and a patriot spirit among the people of southern Ohio — a spirit that could be seen through the dedication of the new monument, according to Smith.
“This monument is an important symbol for the people of Gallipolis because it links us to our past,” Smith said. “In reading some of the news accounts from that time, it is clear that the sense of community was strong all throughout this area. When this monument was first erected, and, ultimately lost, you will find in the newspapers several references to ‘our cemetery.’ While times have changed and families are more spread out, I still believe that this sense of community remains strong today. The presence and preservation of this memorial is a pillar of the courage and patriotism of our earlier generations. While it is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge their sacrifice, it should also be a symbol of pride that our men stood up and fought for our country.”
Following his remarks, Smith also presented the Cadot-Blessing Camp #126 with a Commendation from the State of Ohio in recognition of their efforts to preserve the memory of their ancestors upon the dedication of the memorial in Pine Street Cemetery.
Upon the completion of the solemn ceremony, the members of the Cadot-Blessing Camp fired a salute in honor of the Civil War soldiers resting in Pine Street Cemetery, after which Cadot-Blessing Camp member Dale Lamphier played TAPS.
Cadot-Blessing Camp Commander Jim Oiler, who served as master of ceremonies during Saturday’s dedication, further invited those present who may have Civil War ancestors to join the ranks of the SUVCW to truly honor those patriots who fought to preserve the Union.
“We are all direct descendants or collateral descendants of Civil War Soldiers and we ask that any of you all that have Civil War ancestry, please join us, we’d love to have you,” Oiler said.
The Cadot-Blessing Camp is named named after the last Grand Army of the Republic Post in Gallipolis, which was itself named for Lt. Col. Lemuel Cadot and Major John R. Blessing, who were local business men and members of the 91st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
Today the Cadot-Blessing Camp is comprised of members, Dean Brownell, Roger Caldwell, David Carter, Jim Clark, Melvin Craft, Matthew Cunningham, Carl DeWitt, Clyde Evans, Jennings Ferguson, Mike Harbour, Heath Jenkins, Dale Lamphier, Steve Massie, Ron McClintock, William McCreedy, Henry Myers, David North, Sr., James Oiler, Robert Taylor, Robert Trowbridge, Eric Voiers and Sam Wilson.
For more information on the Cadot-Blessing Camp or to learn how to join the SUVCW, contact Commander Jim Oiler at (740) 245-0134 or via email at email@example.com.