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George Franklin Peckham
Company "C" 11th Wisconsin
11 Apr 1843 - 30 June 1914

"I have the utmost confidence in you all for I know that you are full and running over with that which makes our country what it is -- PATROTISM..." George Franklin Peckham


This is a speech given by my great grandfather George Franklin PECKHAM on 30 May 1906 on Memorial Day- [30 May 1906 is the same as our 30 May 2001]

My Friends and Pupils, It has been the custom of the Grand Old Army of the Republic for several years to, on, or about memorial day to have some veteran of the civil war talk to the pupils of the public schools about that war. While it is an event long passed it's termination is what made out country what it is to-day. Not only the greatest but the best governed country in the world. It is for that reason that the G.A.R. seek each year to place before the youth of the country something of the cost of the blessing which we all enjoy, hoping thereby to keep the spirit of patriotism alive in each and every heart. I shall try and say something about our army during the civil war and about the Grand Old Army of the Republic since then.

I always love to look into the bright and happy faces of the young, I shall try and picture to you something of the costs of the present blessings which are ours. On the 12th day of April 1861, the first shot of the rebellion echoed over the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The command of General Beauggard fried on Fort Sumter. That shot marked the date of the greatest accent in history of our time. For by that shot eleven of the states of our Union containing one third of our entire population said, "We have deliberately decided that the principals of this government are wrong and must be broken."

On the 14th day of April 1861, Major Anderson hauled down the American Flag, [Old Glory, we call it] and marched out with flying colors. It was not until the 14th day of April 1855 that Old Glory was again raised over the ruins of Fort Sumter. That war lasted four years, or 1,460 days. The history of those four years is the history of the greatest conflict ever waged in the history of the world in defense of the eternal principals of right. I wish I had the poser to portray to you the hundredth part of the sacrifice and suffering of our army during those 1,460 dreary blood days. It has never been told, it can never be told. During that awful struggle the loyal states and territories furnished 2,778,304 men of whom more than 2,000 were three year men. The loss of life during the civil war was tremendous and the awful scene of carnage and suffering at Gettysburg and Wilderness. Cold Harbor, Chickamauga, Shiloh, Vicksburg and hundred of others. Desperate battles before which the whole world stood amazed, to say nothing of the horrors of Andersonville, Libby and in the fact all other Southern Prisons Pens.

The record of the war department shows that 400,000 men died during the war. The Good, The Brave, The True In tangled Wood, In Mountain Glen Our Battle Plain, In Prison Pen Lay Dead for me and you ...... Then if we add to this 400,000 the missing we shall swell the number to 550,000 men and it takes little calculation to show us that in these 1,460 days the average would be about 400 men each day who gave up their lives in that awful contest of brother against brother. The records of the war department disclose a scene of carnage and destruction of property never before equaled. We find from actual report of the muster rolls that in one action alone one regiment lost 82% of their number, three regiments lost 70% and 40 regiments lost 55% and that one regiment came out of the fight of the Wilderness with one non-commissioned officer and ten men! The 6th and 7th corps lost 7,000 men in ten minutes on the morning of the second day. At Wilderness there were more than 2,400 battles fought of importance enough to give them a place in history. There is a tract of land in Virginia containing 8,000 acres, [or 12 sections] in this area it has been calculated that more battles were fought and more men engaged, more blood spilt and more lives lost than on any portion of the world. These facts are almost incomprehensive, but sadly true.

My young friends, these terrible conflicts were not fought by old men, and middle aged men, but by boys-- Listen to the figures taken officially from the adjutant Generals office.

Those enlisted at 10 years & under ......15
at 11 years ..............38
at 12 years .............225
at 13 years .............300
at 14 years............1,520
at 15 years..........104,987
at 16 years..........231,051
at 17 years..........844,891
at 18 years........2,151,439
at 21 years........2,159,891
at 22 years & over...618,511
at 25 years & over....46,326
at 45 years & over....16,071

Making a total of 2,778,309 and of this number 2,159,789 were under the age of 21 years. So you see that this terrible fighting was done by boys. All honor to the heroic young fellows who carried the war through to a successful termination.

When General Lee surrendered to General Grant on 8 April 1865 our army was disbanded and the veterans returned quietly to their homes and took up their various labors. The G.A.R. is an organization of veterans who served honorable between the 1st of April 1861 and August 1865. The G.A.R. was organized on the 8th of April 1866. The object to keep alive the memory of patriotic sacrifices, and to aide the widows and orphans of all needy comrades. The members of the G.A.R. are recognized by the little bronze button worn on the left lapel of their coat. The button is made out of cannon metal captured by us from our foes. It is unlawful for any one to wear it who has not an honorable discharge. The wearers of this button are prouder of it than thought it were of the finest gold. You see these buttons on the street and recognize them, and the wearers by the empty sleeves, the crutch, the cane, bent from and slow step. These men have marched through the jaws of death Where the cannon belched their deadly breath And stood unmoved in the smoky glare While the flames of battle were raging there With thought of home and loved ones afar Who's hearts were with them in the Civil War

The G.A.R. is nobly assisted by two organizations of ladies, known as the W.R.C. and the ladies of the G.A.R. These silver haired women know what the civil war meant to and for each had a father, husband, son, brother or sweetheart at the front while they remained at home, alone and did much suffering. Often their tender hearts were torn with anguish and suspense. After each battle scanning the papers to see to see if in the long list of killed or missing the name of some loved ones was there. Their mission now is to look after our sick and needy comrades and their families, getting to know and help them, caring for them tenderly in sickness and prayerfully going with them down to the dark shadows of death, lovingly closing their eyes and assisting us in strewing flowers on Memorial day. God Bless them, they are angels of mercy all of them. Our mission now is to endeavor to instill patriotism and love of country into the hearts of the young. I have the utmost confidence in you all for I know that you are full and running over with that which makes our country what it is -- PATROTISM

I thank you

George Franklin PECKHAM

Lost Faces Ancestor Photos from the 1800s

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Date: Wed Mar 13 2002
Name: Wilma Fleming Haynes
E- mail: gencon@harborside.com
Notes: My great grandfather George Franklin PECKHAM was born 11 Apr 1843 in Birdsell, Allengany, New York, he was the s/o William Augustus Franklin PECKHAM and Lydia M. CHAPIN. They moved to Aztalan, Jefferson, Wisconsin when he was very young - He was mustered into the State Service 26 September 1861, on the 27th of September 1861 he was mustered into the U.S. Service to serve 3 years or more. [during the war] He entered at Madison, Wisconsin in Company "C" 11th Wisconsin infantry, second brigade first division 13 corps. He served as a Wagoner - engaged in the battle at Peach Orchard, Cash Creek, Arkansas, Vicksburg, Jackson and Mobile. He was discharged 2 Sep 1865 at Mobil Atlanta. He settled in O'Brien county and October 1879 at Sanborn Iowa. He was a member of Farragut Post No. 25 G.A.R. Department of Nebraska. He married after he came home from the war - on 7 Feb 1866 at Aztalan, Jefferson, Wisconsin TO his 'childhood school mate" Emily Rosella Lyons. My great grandfather George Franklin Peckham died 30 June 1914 at Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska

Brian Brown, author of In the Footsteps of the Blue and Gray: A Civil War Research Handbook which can be purchased from ABE Books kindly sends the following information:
On the 1860 cnesus of Jefferson County, Wis., Town of Milford, p. 394 I find the following:

J. B. Lillian farmer age 40 born NY
Lyndsette Lillian age 36 born NY
George Peckham age 17 born NY
Byron Peckham age 7 Wis
W.A. (male) Peckham age 4 born Wis.
Annie C. Peckham age 2 born Wis.

It appears that George's father has probably died and his mother has remarried. George enlisted in C, 11 Wis. Infantry on 9/24/61 as a wagoner (i.e. a wagon driver) from Milford, Wis. He served until discharged on Sept. 4, 1865.

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