History of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers
After The War
Regimental re-unions began soon after the war. Old comrades missed the company of men with whom they shared so many hardships. Small gatherings were probably quite frequent. The earliest mention of an organized re-union is July 1869 at Harmony Grove. “Song for the 13th Mass” was written for what was referred to as the 2nd annual picnic. That would place the first organized picnic in 1868. An association was formed in 1867 for '13th Mass' Veterans in good standing. Charles E. Davis, Jr. a former private in Company B, badly wounded at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run, was the driving force behind the organization. Davis received strong encouragement from others, including Lt. William R. Warner of Co. K.
Davis acted as secretary for the 13 th Regiment Association until his unexpected death in 1915. Annual re-union dinners were held in Boston with a notice, or circular, sent out to members each year on a ½ sheet of paper. But, Charles Davis was more ambitious and for years wanted to expand the annual circular to contain information about the regiment & its members. In 1888 he re-organized the 13th Regiment Association. Annual dues of 50¢ paid for the publishing of the new circular which was a newsletter. Letters articles & poems began to appear in its pages, relating the regiment’s history. Personal reminiscences were published. The regimental history “Three Years in the Army” began as a couple of articles written by Davis in two of the early issues. The response to Davis' history was very positive and he was asked to complete the work, which he did in 1893. Soon the 13th Regiment Association Circulars became a valuable resource providing well written & interesting first hand accounts of soldiers’ experiences in the Civil War. The Circulars were highly regarded in their time and copies were requested by librarians at the Library of Congress and the U.S. War Department. In one of the circulars Davis writes of another organization he belonged to:
“There are a good many associations that have grown out of comradeship during the Civil War. The Loyal Legion and the Grand Army, the two largest, are national. Besides these two great organizations and many minor ones that have a local interest being perpetuated by comrades who live in the same community where meetings may be frequently held without inconvenience and at no great expense to the participators. We had in the Thirteenth regiment a club known as the Threottyne club -
Threottyne being Anglo-Saxon for thirteen-which held monthly meetings for thirty years. Originally it was composed of thirteen members and formed for the perpetuation of the regimental association and to keep alive an interest in the regiment. For three years efforts were made to have all the members present at a meeting but without success. The club was then enlarged so as to include any of the regiment who wished to participate in such a monthly gathering. Immediately following this change we had for seven consecutive months just thirteen present. A rather striking coincidence and in spite of the old superstition no death occurred for several years following. During these thirty years it met at Young's Hotel and the average attendance was twelve to fifteen. There were occasions when it reached a higher number; occasions when the club desired to entertain some officer or person of distinction. Some years ago the club ceased to meet because so many of its members had died, and because the enthusiasm that made it possible to meet so regularly had considerably diminished with age. It had fulfilled its purpose of keeping alive an interest in the regimental organization which to-day needs no auxiliary for that purpose.”
The above was written in 1909 and by that time the popular re-union dinners combined with the annual publication of the highly successful regiment association circulars had created, as Davis alluded, such an active interest in the13th Regiment Association, that the enthusiasm remained until the dying days of its members.
The last pamphlet style circular was published in 1922. At least two more annual re-union dinners were had in Boston after that.
Two big events advertised through the annual circulars were the dedication of the Gettysburg Monument, Sept. 25, 1885, and the Massachusetts Antietam monument Sept. 17, 1898. Several members attended the dedication at Gettysburg, while committees from each regiment represented the whole at Antietam. To sum up, the comradeship shared in war time lasted a life time, & the 13th Mass. lively in service, were just as lively to the end of their days. They never forgot their fallen comrades, and they never let go of their times together in the 13th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers.
Copyright © 2008 by Brad Forbush. All rights reserved.
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