Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What We Leave to Our Children

I’ve selected my first post carefully. It is a reflection written by Corporal George G. Walters, a member of Company K, 148th Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1862, at age nineteen, Walters enlisted in the Union army, leaving behind his friends and family at the small crossroads of Curllsville, Pennsylvania. He served three years with the Army of the Potomac, fighting with it at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Overland Campaign. Thirty-nine years after the Civil War, he contributed to Joseph Muffly’s history of the 148th Pennsylvania, The Story of Our Regiment. Here’s what Walters had to say:

We may not be able to leave to our children gold, jewels, precious stones or wealth, but there is something that money cannot buy,—honor. This is transmitted as an heirloom for which generations yet unborn will bless us and hold our memory in sacred reverence; while over the fireplace the old sword will be suspended, and many an evening whiled away in recounting the heroic deeds that reflect honor out from the dim ages of long ago. ‘My father went down in the great battle of Gettysburg. My father stood on the brink of starvation in the Andersonville prison. My father helped to carry the flag above the clouds of Lookout Mountain. My father stood beneath the leaden hail at Vicksburg. My father marched with Meade through the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and heard the shouts of victory at the surrender of Appomattox in April, 1865.’ These are the priceless relics transmitted to posterity that no thief in the night can steal. This is the grand heritage bought with the blood and suffering of our fathers which no engraver can counterfeit.

If memories of service in the Army of the Potomac are priceless heirlooms, let us strive not to forget them. So it shall be; let the soldiers tell their stories.

Corporal G. G. Walters, ca. 1862 (Muffly, History of Our Regiment, 1904)

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