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WITH LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG

By Rev. JUNIUS B. REMENSNYDER, D.D. In this article Dr. Remensnyder recalls the actual scenes of the occasion of Lincoln's deathless speech upon the battlefield at Gettysburg. The writer, who is an eminent Lutheran divine and the author of many works of an ecclesiastical nature, is one of the few living people who heard Lincoln deliver the famous address. He is himself a veteran of the Civil War, having served with the 131st Pennsylvania volunteers. He was a student in the Lutheran seminary at Gettysburg at the time that the address was delivered. Dr. Remensnyder's contribution is peculiarly appropriate at this time (1914) when the nation is celebrating, more widely than ever before, the one hundred and fourth anniversary of the birth of the Great Emancipator.

F EVER the thunder of a battle resounded throughout the world it was that of Gettysburg. It was one of the five or six epochal struggles of history. It gave a stagger

ing blow to the hitherto advancing South, and it shot a thrill of new inspiration and hope throughout the North. As, also, it was fought upon Northern soil, the thought of a great national memorial and dedication was natural.

The idea originated with the great war governor of Pennsylvania, Governor Curtin. He corresponded with the governors of the seventeen other loyal states, and a commission, with Judge Wills as president, purchased a site of seventeen acres within the Union line of battle, and arranged for a monument to be erected on Cemetery Hill, the center of a circle filled with Union dead.

Edward Everett, the first orator of that period, was invited to deliver the memorial address. Judge Wills thought it fitting that President Lincoln should also take some part. Accordingly he wrote him:

“It is our desire, that after the oration, you, as Chief Executive of the nation, formally set apart these grounds by a few appropriate remarks. It will be a source of great gratification to the many widows and orphans who have been made friendless by the great

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base heze, to have you here personally; and it will kindle anew in the heart of the churraries of these brave dead, comrades who are 1.6,w cost,!meeting the fre in front, a confidence that they who sleep in dea's. 200 not forgotten by those highest in authority. We therefore boce that youll will be able to be present to perform this last sslerr.t. act to the sidder dead on this battlefield.”

President Linchin promptly accepted the invitation. The ceremony way fixer for Vovember 19th, 1863. On the eighteenth the President left Washington for Gettysburg. The town was a small one, its chief distinction being that it was the seat of important classical and thenlogical institutions of the Lutheran Church. There was but one small railroad, the Hanover and Gettysburg, leading into the place. By this the President and his party arrived in the forenoon. He was entertained at the house of Judge Wills, where a number of guests were invited to dine with him in the evening.

The writer was a student in the college at the time. In the evening the students in a body, he among them, gathered about Judge Wills's residence, clamoring for a speech. We must have taken up our cry about the time dinner began, and our calls ever growing more emphatic, must have ruffled the temper of the diners, as we, too, chafed under the long wait we had to bear.

Finally, the President appeared. The lights were dim, and we could not see him with much distinctness. What he said was about this: "I would like to give you college boys a speech. But I am the official representative of the country. Consequently, what I say will be reported far and near. This subjects it to criticism, which might pervert it to the hurt of our cause. Hence, either I should think carefully over what I say, or not speak at all. And, as I have had no time for thought or preparation, it is better for me to say nothing. Good-night.” This certainly most sensible speech, whose wisdom was vindicated by the deliverance on the morrow, was quite a damper to our spirits. We felt greatly disappointed. Our pride was somewhat humbled, and the impression made on us was rather unfavorable.

The morning of the historical event, November nineteenth, dawned bright and clear. It was an idyllic November day. The

. exercises were to be conducted on Cemetery Hill, a beautiful spot on an elevation just outside the town limits. Here, in company with a fellow student, later a leading lawyer of St. Louis, I hurried, in order to secure the best place for seeing and hearing. We selected a spot facing the temporary platform for the speakers and only about forty or fifty feet distant.

President Lincoln soon came. He was mounted and leading the procession. He took his seat on the platform directly in front of where we were standing, and facing us. I had seen him the year before, shortly after the battle of Antietam, when I had the privilege of seeing him and General McClellan ride in review of the army in the field, and when I saw the soldiers throw their caps in the air in wild enthusiasm. But I did not then have the opportunity of studying the President's features at close range as I did here. He sat upon a rude wooden rocking-chair, which, from the disproportionate length of the back, seemed to have been specially prepared for him. He seemed either absolutely unconscious that he was being observed or as entirely indifferent to observation as when in the solitude of his mother's Kentucky woods. The contrast, in this respect, between his indifference and the polished orator who was speaking, so selfconscious and ornate in every gesture, was most striking. This abandon evidently arose from the strong mental concentration of which Mr. Lincoln was capable, and which the scene and solemn memories about him aroused to its profoundest depth.

The address of Edward Everett was very elaborately prepared, bristling with ornate periods, and at times, in delivery, resembling the passionate outbursts of some of Robert G. Ingersoll's great war addresses to veterans. Nevertheless, it had, I think, the serious defect of too rigid formality, and too great length. He used no notes, and his address was evidently memorized. It occupied about two hours in delivery. The day had grown quite warm, and the great multitude was becoming restless. During all this time, my eyes were largely fixed upon President Lincoln, and my thoughts frequently wandered from the speaker to him. He seemed to grow quite weary, and almost acted as if he were bored. He twisted his gaunt form and his long limbs in every direction. There was a rugged manliness in that simple, homely, honest face that challenged study. But however worn and weary he seemed when one could catch his eye it flashed with an animation, which revealed the ardor, sympathy and force of an unusual soul.

At last the great moment came for him to speak. He arose and stepped slightly toward the front. His appearance was greeted with a great outburst of cheers. As the sun was shining brilliantly the crowd had protected their heads with their hats. A cry went forth from the throng that all hats should be removed out of respect to the President. This, under the circumstances, was not most pleasant, and a small group near me retained their headgear. At this the protests became so general and strong that, out of deference or fear, the demand was obeyed. The President then delivered his historic address.

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The address was read in an easy, unaffected manner, without the least effort at effect. The speaker's voice was not loud, but its clear and tenor tones made it heard distinctly to the furthest limits of the audience. It occupied a little over two minutes in delivery. General Wilson, who knew the President well, says that he held his manuscript in his left hand, but did not refer to it, evidently knowing it by heart. My observation and memory are directly to the contrary. I only noticed one sheet. And I did particularly mark that he held it in both hands, and made no pretence of doing anything else than reading it.

My remembrance is that the address was greeted with hearty applause. Yet, to show how uncertain memory is, a college classmate, now an honored clergyman, who was also present, writes me:

“I differ from you as to the applause. Everett received much applause at the close of his polished oration. Lincoln's immortal

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