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Civil War Diary

Gettysburg Great Camp

Plans for July 1-4 to commemorate 50th anniversary of battle

Originally published in the April 11, 1913 Emmitsburg Chronicle

Reunion of war veterans

To explain the plans for the great reunion of Civil War veterans at Gettysburg from July 1 to July 4 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the battle there, the chairman of the Battle of Gettysburg Commission, Col. Shoemaker, has sent a circular letter to the 40,000 veterans who have been invited to attend the celebration.

The state of Pennsylvania well provide all the entertainment at Gettysburg for the veterans, and that state and the national government, by appropriations of $150,000 each, will maintain a great camp around the battlefield, equipped with all the possible conveniences for the comfort of the old soldiers.

The camp will be established on a field, which embraces some 280 acres. The camp will be in the vicinity of the high water monument on the battlefield of Gettysburg. It lies to the south west of the town and includes part of the track covered in the first day’s fight. There’ll be 5,000 tents, intended to accommodate 12 men each, but only eight veterans will be assigned to each tent.

Each veteran will be supplied with a separate cot, blanket, and mess kit. The mess kit will become his property. Each tent will be furnished with water buckets and candles. Towels, soap, and toilet articles will be provided by the veterans themselves.

Meals will be served to them at tables adjoining the kitchen at the end of each company street. The veterans will be restricted to hand baggage. To aid in prompt delivery, all mail and telegrams must be plainly addressed to the individual veteran, with the additional delegation of "Maine delegation," or "Mississippi delegation," or whatever state delegation he may be with.

The control of the grounds and camp and the movement of troops and marching bodies will be in charge of the Secretary of War, under such officers as he may detail for that purpose.

Each state through its representative must advise the Battle of Gettysburg Commission how many veterans it will send, and the state’s delegation will be assigned to a section of the camp with sufficient tents for its veterans. The subdivision of tents will be left to each state representative.

To avoid, as far as possible, congestion on the roads at Gettysburg, the camp will be ready for the reception of the old soldiers on June 29. Supper will be the first meal served that day. The camp will continue open on through the celebration until July 6, when the last meals served will be breakfast.

Under acts by the Pennsylvania Assembly and Congress, only veterans of the Civil War will be provided with food, shelter and entertainment within the camp around the battlefield. Women and children accompanying the veterans cannot be taking care of within the camp. Veterans, therefore, are advised that they should not bring any members of the family, for whom they will have to obtain food and quarters outside the camp without first making arrangements for them.

Before a veteran is admitted to the camp he must produce credentials such as honorable discharge, pension certificate or certificate of service from either the governor of the state in which he enlisted; or if a veteran of the regular army, from the United States War Department; or if a former sailor or member of the Marine Corp, from the United States Navy Department, or certificate of identification from the commander of a post of the Grand Army Republic, or from a commander of the United Confederate Veterans.

It will be left to each Commonwealth, State and territory to discriminate in the issuance of free transportation. The state of Pennsylvania will furnish free transportation to only her own veterans or the veterans now living in her borders.

The Truck Line Passenger Association, with a territory embracing Gettysburg, has granted a round-trip excursion rate good from the time of starting, June 25, to the time of returning to the original point, July 15; a 20 day ticket good only on the same route going and coming, at a rate of two cents a mile. The railroads at Gettysburg, for lack of space would not put any cars there on site tracks.

The program for the four days exercises and entertainment has not been perfected in detail, but the tentative suggestions are:

July 1, Veterans Day-appropriate exercises under the joint direction of the Pennsylvania Commission and the Commanders in Chief of the Grand Army Republic and the United Confederate Veterans.

July 2, Military Day - under the direction of the chief of staff of the United States Army. Special attachments of each arm of the regular servers to participate as directed.

July 3, Civic Day - Under the direction of the Gov. of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, presiding, and participating in by the governors of several states. Orations , sermon, and music.

July 4, National Day-the Chief Justice of the United States presiding, noon speech by the President the United States. High noon, President to lay at cornerstone of a great Peace Memorial. Evening, fireworks.

A great tent to see between 10,000 and 15,000 veterans will be erected immediately adjoining the camp, and therein will occur the exercises; except the military parade and fireworks, and there, also, save for the hour set apart for the exercises, the veterans may hold reunions. The tent will be subdivided into separate enclosures.

All veterans of the Civil War, North and South, are urged to wear their army, corps, division, brigade, and society badges, as a means of identification to their comrades in like commands in the expectations that will assist in imparting information as to when and where are different organizations, meet, and in bringing together comrades who would otherwise, by reason of lapse of time, fail to recognize each other.

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