The complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Miscellanies [Vol. 11]
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882., Emerson, Edward Waldo, 1844-1930.
Page  617

ADDRESS AT THE DEDICATION OF THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT IN CONCORD

In 1836, the "Battle Monument" to commemorate "the First organized Resistance to British Aggression" had been erected "in Gratitude to God and Love of Freedom" on "the spot where the first of the Enemy fell in the War which gave Independence to the United States." Thirty-three years later, on the Nineteenth day of April, with its threefold patriotic memories for Concord,1 the people gathered on the village common to see their new memorial to valor. The inscription on one of its bronze tablets declared that

THE TOWN OF CONCORD BUILDS THIS MONUMENT IN HONOR OF THE BRAVE MEN WHOSE NAMES IT BEARS: AND RECORDS WITH GRATEFUL PRIDE THAT THEY FOUND HERE A BIRTHPLACE, HOME OR GRAVE.

The inscription on the other tablet is the single sentence,—

THEY DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY
IN THE WAR OF THE REBELLION
with the forty-four names.

Hon. John S. Keyes as President of the Day opened the Page  618 ceremonies with a short address. The Rev. Grindall Reynolds made the prayer. An Ode written by Mr. George B. Bartlett was sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Hon. Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, the Chairman of the Monument Committee, read the Report, in itself an eloquent and moving speech. This was followed by Mr. Emerson's Address. Mr. F. B. Sanborn contributed a Poem, and afterwards short speeches were made by Senator George S. Boutwell, William Schouler, the efficient Adjutant-General of the State, and by Colonels Parker and Marsh respectively of the Thirty-second and Forty-seventh regiments of Massachusetts Volunteers, in which the Concord companies had served. The exercises were concluded by the reading of a poem by Mr. Sampson Mason, an aged citizen of the town.

It was a beautiful spring day. The throng was too large for the town hall, so, partly sheltered from the afternoon sun by the town elm, thickening with its brown buds, they gathered around the town-house steps, which served as platform for the speakers.

Page 351, note 1. Compare, in the Poems, the lines in "The Problem" on the adoption by Nature of man's devotional structures.

Page 352, note 1.

Great men in the Senate sate,
Sage and hero, side by side,
Building for their sons the State,
Which they shall rule with pride.
They forbore to break the chain
Which bound the dusky tribe,
Checked by the owners' fierce disdain,
Lured by "Union" as the bribe.
Page  619 Destiny sat by, and said,
'Pang for pang your seed shall pay,
Hide in false peace your coward head,
I bring round the harvest day.'

Page 353, note 1. Wordsworth's Sonnet, No. xiv., in "Poems dedicated to National Independence," part ii.

Page 355, note 1. Mr. Emerson had in mind the astonishing fertility of resource in difficulties shown by the Eighth Massachusetts Regiment in the march from Annapolis to Washington, as told by Major Theodore Winthrop in "New York Seventh Regiment. Our march to Washington." (Atlantic Monthly, June, 1861). See "Resources," Letters and Social Aims, p. 143.

Judge Hoar in his report on this occasion said, "Two names [on the tablet] recall the unutterable horrors of Andersonville, and will never suffer us to forget that our armies conquered barbarism as well as treason."

Page 356, note 1. Between 1856 and 1859 John Brown and other Free-State men, Mr. Whitman, Mr. Nute and Preacher Stewart, had told the sad story of Kansas to the Concord people and received important aid.

Page 358, note 1. This was Captain Charles E. Bowers, a shoemaker, and Mr. Emerson's next neighbor, much respected by him, whose forcible speaking at anti-slavery and Kansas aid meetings he often praised. When the war came, Mr. Bowers, though father of a large family, and near the age-limit of service, volunteered as a private in the first company, went again as an officer in the Thirty-second Massachusetts Regiment, and served with credit in the Army of the Potomac until discharged for disability.

Page 358, note 2. George L. Prescott, a lumber dealer Page  620 and farmer, later Colonel of the Thirty-second Regiment, U. S. V. He was of the same stock as Colonel William Prescott, the hero of Bunker Hill.

Judge Hoar said of him, "An only son, an only brother, a husband and a father, with no sufficient provision made for his wife and children, he had everything to make life dear and desirable, and to require others to hesitate for him, but he did not hesitate himself."

Page 361, note 1. Blaise de Montluc, a Gascon officer of remarkable valor, skill and fidelity, under Francis I. and several succeeding kings of France.

Page 365, note 1. It was well said by Judge Hoar: "His instinctive sympathies taught him from the outset, what many higher in command were so slow and so late to learn, that it is the first duty of an officer to take care of his men as much as to lead them. His character developed new and larger proportions, with new duties and larger responsibilities."

Page 366, note 1. The Buttricks were among the original settlers of Concord, and the family has given good account of itself for nearly two hundred and seventy years, and still owns the farm on the hill whence Major John led the yeomen of Middlesex down to force the passage of the North Bridge. Seven representatives of that family of sturdy democrats volunteered at the beginning of the War of the Rebellion. Two were discharged as physically unfit, but the others served in army or navy with credit, and two of them lost their lives in the service. Alden Buttrick had fought the Border Ruffians in Kansas. Humphrey, a mason by trade, but a mighty hunter, left his wife and little children at the first call, and was first sergeant of Prescott's company. Mr. Emerson omits to state that he was commissioned lieutenant in the Forty-seventh Regiment the following year. His service, especially as Page  621 captain in the Fifty-ninth Regiment, was arduous and highly creditable.

Page 368, note 1. Edward O. Shepard, who had been master of the Concord High School, afterwards a successful lawyer, had an excellent war record, and rose to be lieutenant-colonel of the Thirty-second Regiment.

George Lauriat left the gold-beater's shop of Ephraim W. Bull (the producer of the Concord Grape) to go to the war in Concord's first company. Modest and brave, he became an excellent officer and returned captain and brevet-major of the Thirty-second Regiment.

Page 368, note 2. Francis Buttrick, younger brother of Humphrey, a handsome and attractive youth, had lived at Mr. Emerson's home to carry on the farm for him.

Page 375, note 1. These three were Asa, John and Samuel Melvin. Asa died of wounds received before Petersburg; both his brothers of sickness, Samuel after long suffering in the prison-pen at Andersonville. They came of an old family of hunter-farmers in Concord. Close by the wall next the street of the Old Hill Burying Ground is the stone in memory of one of their race, whose "Martial Genius early engaged him in his Country's cause under command of the valiant Captain Lovel in that hazardous Enterprise where our hero, his Commander, with many brave and valiant Men bled and died."

Page 379, note 1. The writer of this letter, a quiet, handsome school-boy the year before the war broke out, lived just across the brook behind Mr. Emerson's house. He was an excellent soldier in the Thirty-second Regiment, and reënlisted as a veteran in 1864.