CIVIL WAR OP-ED: 1913 Gettysburg Reunion of Blue and Gray

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.
1913 Gettysburg Reunion
1913 Gettysburg Reunion


America will celebrate her 237th birthday this year, and…..


The Sesquicentennial “150th Anniversary” of the War Between the States continues in remembrance of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson who died in May 1863 and the men of Blue and Gray who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. The Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans commemorates the memory of the Confederate soldier. Read more at:

 Fifty years had passed since the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1st- 3rd, 1863, when the Veterans of the North and South braved again the summer heat to meet at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

One hundred years have passed since….

 President Woodrow Wilson, a son of Virginia, summarized the spirit of this historic event with his July 4, 1913 Gettysburg Reunion Address by saying: quote "We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten—except that we shall not forget the splendid valor.” unquote

 From June 29 to July 4, 1913, 53,407 Confederate and Union Veterans of the War Between the States came to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for a Reunion and encampment. Veterans came from 47 of the 48 states of the Union and the Chief Surgeon said of the event, quote “Never before in the world’s history had so great a number of men advanced in years been assembled under field conditions” unquote. 

It was the largest combined reunion of War Between the States Veterans. 

 Do you know who Gen. Robert Edward Lee, Major Gen. George Edward Pickett and Major Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain are who met at Gettysburg in July 1863?

“Comrades and friends, these splendid statues of marble and granite and bronze shall finally crumble to dust, and in the ages to come, will perhaps be forgotten, but the spirit that has called this great assembly of our people together, on this field, shall live forever.” -----Dr. Nathaniel D. Cox at 1913 Gettysburg Reunion 

The youngest Veteran was reported to be 61 and the oldest was 112 years young. 

The United States and Confederate flags flew side by side at the Gettysburg soldier’s reunion of honored men who had been enemies on the field of battle. 

 The State of Pennsylvania hosted the 1913 reunion at the insisting of state Governor John K. Tener. Tener also encouraged other states to arrange rail transportation for the participants. Down South in Dixie, the United Daughters of the Confederacy helped raise money for the transportation and uniforms for their Confederate Veterans. 

The soldiers of Blue and Gray, Black and White, came with heads held high and full of war stories. It is written that the hosts did not count on Black Confederates attending the meeting and had no place to put them but the White Confederates made room for their Southern brothers. Black Union veterans also attended this event. 

 It is written that nearly 700,000 meals were served that included fried chicken, roast pork sandwiches, ice cream and Georgia watermelon. The temperature soared to 100 degrees and almost 10,000 veterans were treated for heat exhaustion and several hundred more were hospitalized. The United States Army was also present in support and it’s written that the old men loved the attention. 

 A highlight of the reunion was the Confederate Veterans walk on the path of Gen. George Pickett’s charge that was greeted, this time, by a handshake from the Union Veterans. 

Let’s not forget!


Johnson is a speaker, writer of short stories, author of book “When America stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the National and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month committee. He lives in Kennesaw, GA.

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