Pre-dedication Reception for the Sedgwick Monument at Spotsylvania Court House
The first official monument placed on the lands of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park land, was dedicated on the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield, May 12, 1887. The festivities surrounding the dedication of the monument to Major General John Sedgwick—the highest ranking Union officer to fall in the Civil War—spanned three full days, and included a battlefield tour, a reception hosted by Fredericksburg mayor Josiah Hazard, and the monument dedication itself. What follows are the welcoming speeches to the reception held in the honor of the occasion.
The Mayor [Josiah Hazard] spoke as follows: Gentlemen of the Sedgwick Memorial Association:
The honor and privilege has been accorded me, in behalf of the citizens of Fredericksburg, to extend to you a cordial and hearty welcome to our city, and in behalf of the City Council, to thank you for your kind and courteous invitation to participate in the ceremonies of dedicating a monument near Spottsylvania Court-house to the gallant soldier and patriot, General John Sedgwick.
We accept your invitation, and will be with you, where the blue and the gray will mingle, and with open hearts and willing hands do honor to the fallen hero.
When we assemble around the spot where " Sedgwick” fell, we will know no North, no South, but join hands with you in placing wreaths of everlasting flowers (immortelles) upon the monument erected to his memory.
We who bore the heat and burden of the day in " the times that tried men's souls," forgetting the past, living in the present, with bright hopes for the future, must strive to impress upon our children, that the war is over, and we have a common country left us as our heritage ; a grand and glorious country, bequeathed to us by our forefathers to love, cherish and defend —" Peace hath more might than war."
When we, the survivors of the late cruel war, who have been spared to do honor to our fallen heroes, shall have been peacefully laid to rest beneath the sod, no monument to mark our last resting-place; no "storied urn or eulogistic epitaph" to proclaim our deeds to coming generations, and when " the feet of those we fought for, the voices of those we wrought for, shall echo round our bones forevermore;" then, when the children and children's children of the men who wore the blue and the men who wore the gray at each recurring May time, shall make that pilgrimage to the monument that you have erected to General John Sedgwick, and to one that shall rise ere long to Stonewall Jackson (both heroes of one common country), and place garlands of sweet May flowers over them, as they call to remembrance their heroism and bravery let them not forget the brave men who followed them, and like their loved leaders, laid down their lives for their country.
The President of the Association, General [James W.] Latta, replied as follows:
On behalf of the Association, Mr. Mayor, I thank you for your very gracious reception, your very generous and cordial words of welcome.
I represent a body of hungry, famished patriots from all the States of the Atlantic seaboard, from Maine to Maryland (laughter). A toilsome, lengthy journey has whetted appetites, and the urgency of unappeased hunger demands that they be promptly and bountifully satisfied. They do not now, as of yore, bear with them their own subsistence, nor do they carry the appliances to fit it for toothsome, ready digestion.
Facing the gable wall of this large, well-appointed hostelry' they look longingly to its prolific larder to answer the cravings of their emptiness.
It is more convenient to be here at this time than it was some twenty odd years ago (applause). Fredericksburg's thrift and enterprise, business and prosperity is indicative of a more hospitable welcome than were her frowning battlements and gun-capped heights. The generous display of the American standard, that so liberally decorates your streets, is an assurance that it is strong enough, and broad enough, and grand enough to gather within its wide and ample folds all the people of our land, the citizens of a common country, happy in the destiny vouchsafed them, if they obey the laws, and be free, open and candid in their support of the majesty of their Government. (Applause.)
Recurring to the necessities incident to universal hunger, and again thanking you for your kindly words and hearty reception, I declare the Sedgwick Memorial Association ad-journed for dinner.