Friday, May 21, 2010

DUBLIN HOSTS THE 1920 GEORGIA CONFEDERATE REUNION

When the hair of the “boys in gray” began to turn gray, the old soldiers of the Confederate Army gathered together each year to reminisce about the good old days and the bad old days they spent together on the battlefields of Virginia and the trenches around Vicksburg. Former Confederate soldiers organized the United
Confederate Veterans in the 1890s. Each southern state held a reunion every year, usually in the early spring. The national reunion followed a few months later. The site of the annual Georgia reunion rotated among the larger cities of the state. In 1920, Georgia’s aging veterans, now approaching an average age of eighty years,
gathered in Dublin.

May 12, 1920: It was Dublin’s big day. The reunion in Dublin was made possible through the efforts of Dublin lawyer J.A. Thomas. Thomas, a native of Dublin, had been elected by his peers as State Commander of the Georgia Division of the United Confederate Veterans. The men in gray kept pouring out of the trains on Tuesday afternoon. At the office of the Chamber of Commerce, over sixty hundred and fifty veterans registered by mid-morning. Officials estimated that more than seven hundred veterans were in attendance. Those in attendance stated that it was the largest reunion in five years, a remarkable occurrence in that many
of the survivors had died during that period.

For over a month the people of Dublin had been preparing for the big event.  R.E. Braddy volunteered to barbeque all the pigs and sheep that could be donated.  Serving on the barbeque committee were B.A. Hooks, T.V. Sanders, H.A. Knight, E.B. Freeman, and C.F. Ludwig. Izzie Bashinski and N.G. Bartlett headed the Finance Committee which sought out and received the necessary monetary support.

Any event of this sort needed a lady’s touch to pull it off. Mrs. B.A. Hooks was named as chairwoman of the Open Air Reception Committee. Every lady in the city and the county was asked to contribute a basket of food to feed the soldiers and their guests. The women of the county greeted the men and their families as they arrived in the city. Among those women were Mrs. B.A. Hooks, Mrs. M.V. Mahoney, Mrs. Franklin Harold, Mrs. J.D. Prince, Mrs. T.J. Pritchett, Mrs. D.W. Shewmake, Miss Mamie Ramsay, Miss Clemmie Patton, and Miss Adeline Baum. Over thirty ladies served punch at four stations.

The opening session began on Wednesday morning, May 12th, at the courthouse. Dr. Asby Jones of Atlanta opened the meeting with a prayer, following remarks by the presiding officer, Brigadier General A. J. Twiggs. Mayor L.Q. Stubbs, who served as entertainment chairman of the event, welcomed everyone to the city and thanked the veterans for honoring the city by making it their choice for the annual reunion. Stubbs praised the men, stating that “no braver or greater band of men had ever been organized.”

Dr. J.G. Patton, minister of Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church, gave the welcome speech on behalf of the churches of the city. Mrs. T.J. Pritchett gave a welcome speech on behalf of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Mrs. Pritchett spoke of the debt the South owed its heroes for their bravery in the Sixites.

Miss Adeline Baum read an address on behalf the Adeline Baum Chapter of the United Children of the Confederacy.

Following an eloquent speech by Carl Hinton, Adjutant General of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, General Thomas stood up to respond to all of the addresses. Thomas turned the program over to Gen. Twiggs, commander of the Eastern Division of Georgia. The meeting was adjourned and everyone walked or
rode over to Stubbs Park for a barbeque dinner. A.L. Merritt of Forsyth stated that his only complaint of the reunion was the fact that he ate too much of the good food and got sick. The old soldiers reconvened back at the courthouse a 2:30. The Dublin Band, which had provided music at four national Confederate reunions in the last decade, provided the music. Lady officials, including Margaret Pritchett, the Matron of Honor, were saluted. Maj. General Thomas spoke first followed by all four of the regional brigade commanders: Gen. B. B. Morgan, Southern; Gen. B.N. Barrow, Western; George Hillyer, Northern; and A.J. Twiggs, Eastern. Remarks by Gen. E.E. Gilmore, commanding the Calvary, and Col. H. W. Powell, commanding
the Engineers, completed the program.

At five o’clock the veterans were treated to a car ride to the see the sites of Dublin. A large number of the veterans declined the invitation and chose instead to watch the horse races. Four hundred veterans came to the open air reception held on the lawn of the courthouse. The ladies of the United Daughters of the
Confederacy, including many state officials, decorated the courthouse with flags, strung lights in the color and shape of the Confederate flag, and illuminated the trees with brilliant lights. The Dublin Band played patriotic tunes all during the event.

Many veterans failed to resist the temptation to dance in public. Again there was a legion of ladies and young girls manning the punch bowls.
At nine o’clock that night, Mr. and Mrs. A.W. Garrett opened their Bellevue Avenue home for a reception sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
The last event of the night was the sponsor’s and maid’s ball at the Shamrock Club rooms. Chaperons for the event were Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Finn, Mr. and Mrs. J.S. Simons, Dr. and Mrs. J.L. Weddington, Mr. and Mrs. C.T. Watkins, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lawson, Mr. and Mrs. Hill G. Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. John S. Adams, Mr. and Mrs. R.T. Peacock, and Mr. and Mrs. E.G. Simmons.

The next morning, the men returned to the courthouse for a business session. Musical presentations were intermingled with the election of officers and the plans for next year’s reunion. The meeting ended with the song, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again.” The men returned to Stubbs Park for a picnic.

The pinnacle of the two-day celebration was the Grand Parade through the streets of Dublin. Thousands of people lined the streets to see Georgia’s grand old veterans march or ride through the city. Brig. Gen. Twiggs served as Grand Marshal of the Parade. He was aided by his Chief of Staff, Capt. Cleveland Pope, the
commander of the local company of the Georgia National Guard. The grand events came to a close on Wednesday night at nine o’clock with a street dance.

The next morning the hundreds of visitors retreated. Everything was back to normal. The veterans had a grand time, thanking the people of Dublin for the food, the hospitality, and the opening of many homes to the veterans.

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