Reunion of the 127th Illinois Infantry in 1898
Old Comrades Meet
Letter From "Bob" Murphy - A Soldier at Thirteen
One Hundred Twenty-seventh Illinois Infantry Have a Reunion at Oswego
Published in Kendall County Record, September 7, 1898.
The annual session of the Grand Army Encampment convened at Cincinnati Tuesday and the Kendall County Fair began the same day. The veterans of the old 127th Illinois volunteers were not at all disturbed by the counter attractions and met in the usual reunion frame of mind at the Woodman Hall in Oswego to talk over old times and elect officers for the coming year. And, by the way, it is but just to say that the Oswego Woodmen have one of the finest fraternal halls in this section of the country. The Neighbors have reason to be proud of their quarters.
A number of our comrades met the nine o'clock train from Chicago and Aurora and a procession was formed which marched to the beautiful hall. Here for an hour there was a general interchange of greetings and shaking of hands and old stories retold, while Secretary Knott issued certificates of membership for round dollars and took the pay for dinner tickets.
Promptly at eleven o'clock, Captain Richmond, president of the organization, called the meeting to order and the matter of routine business was attended to. A number of letters from absent comrades were read by the secretary and the warmest affection evinced for the veterans of the old regiment. Many happy little incidents occurred during the hour, which showed how warmly attached, was the veteran of the Civil War to his comrade. It was voted to hold the next reunion at Elgin, though Comrade John Roberts made a hot fight for Aurora as the permanent meeting place. All the officers of the organization were re-elected for the coming year. Business being over and comrade Toomer having had his say about matters and things, the meeting adjourned and took up the line of march for the Congregational Church, where the ladies had prepared a magnificent feast to regale the "boys" and their "girls." It was a splendid dinner and everyone had all they wanted and more. What the Oswego ladies can't do in the way of provisioning a hungry lot of people can't be done anywhere. They are simply perfect.
Dinner over, there was a bit of speaking and then a general social good time all around. Those present as gathered from the Secretary's list were as follows:
Frank Young, Colvin Pearce, C. E. Hubbard, John Roberts, Samuel Salfisberg, I. S. Bartlett, C. L. Roberts, George M. Cowdrey, Granby S. Case, Chester Ackley, Christian Herren, M. B. Lamb, George White, Rudolph Salfisberg.
William Toomer, G; John Fay, K; G. W. Montague, F; Sergeant James Schermerhorn, F; R. A. Esterbrook, 10th Illinois; George H. Knott, C; Charles M. Hill, K; George Hoagland, K; J. W. Carr, F; L. Fowler, F; O. S. Hinckley, D; S. Swynger, I; Robert Marsden, E; N. J. Seaton, I; Captain Richmond; Chaplain J. C. Stoughton; A. B. Palmer, 3rd Missouri CAV; T. P. Trumbull, E; George Collie, D; C. H. Beach, E; M. Murphy, E; and R. R. Parker, C.
Many of the comrades were accompanied by their wives and the attendance was good. Secretary Knott registered his son George R. Knott, who is now in Porto Rico with the Third Illinois.
There were many inquiries for those whose names did not appear. Where is this one? Dead, was the reply. And where is that one? Disabled and couldn't come. And where are the others? Lives so far away he could not get here. Comrades accounted for every fellow in some way, and the reunion went on. This battle, that skirmish, some old camp or some odd incident was related and the boys of the old 127th Illinois had a jolly reunion. Just as jolly as it could be by men to whom Comrade Roberts alluded as men who would cease to be in a very few years. But it jarred no one in the company. Every fellow was as young as he was thirty-six years ago. It was a grand day for Oswego and the ladies are entitled to the greater part of the praise for the pleasing result.
An Oswego Soldier's Letter
Montreal, September 3, 1898
To my Comrades of the 127th Illinois, J. Frank Richmond, President.
Your kind notice of the 29th annual reunion and invitation to meet with you at Oswego came duly to hand. However I am away up here in Canada where I have come to see if I can get rid of my annual spell of hay fever, which I have been afflicted with every year at this season for several years. Were it not for this hay fever coming just as it does this time of year, I should try to meet with you often, for my heart is with you. And now that you meet once more in my old home, the town where I was born, and from where I enlisted to go with you to war, I do most exceedingly regret that I am unable to be with you. Your meeting at Oswego takes me back to my boyhood days and vividly brings to my memory the day the writer, a mere school boy only thirteen years of age, cast his lot with you for the war. It recalls to me the three years we spent together in the camp on the battlefield and upon the march. The writer was too young to be of much service to you. But so young, my heart was with you and many times touched in its tender spot for the hardships you had to endure and the dangers you underwent upon the battlefield.
As you all know the most of the time my position was such that I could look on and see what was being done and, Oh! How I always turned towards my own regiment. How it grieved me to see them stricken down either from disease or the rebel bullet. I shall never forget that 28th day of July in front of Atlanta, when "Billy" Lawton came running out of the woods and said, "'Bob', for God's sake, get us some reinforcements; they are cutting us all to pieces," A little later as I rode up near the line with the reinforcements there I found our comrades, A. (Alfred) X. Murdock and "Billy" Pooley, both shot dead. They were our Oswego boys. Do you wonder I was deeply touched and the tears rolled down my face?
God bless you my old comrades. I know what you passed through during those trying times. It is the pride of my life that I am registered as one of you. This country has just had a little war. There has been much complaint from the scarcity of rations, insufficient number of surgeons, and the lack of facilities for caring for the sick in Cuba. But you remember many a time when all our rations were a little rusty hardtack and dirty bacon or "sowbelly," and the next meal a little "sowbelly" and hardtack.
This war is going to help the veterans. It is going to open the eyes of the public to what you did and what you suffered. It has been a great war, but you old comrades, who drove Pemberton to surrender at Vicksburg and buried the "Johnnies" back over the mountains of Lookout and Missionary Ridge sent them flying from Kenesaw and drove them from Atlanta to the sea, would call the battle for Santiago but a skirmish. Day after day you fought. Every day more men fell than were engaged in Cuba. Yet you bore it uncomplainingly and fought on. You fought not only for three months but also for three years.
With the new soldier marching home. With the wounded from Santiago in our midst, we shall find a sentiment growing which must surely result in the benefit to the heroes of those other battlefields.
Wishing you all many rich blessings and hoping all the good things of life may be yours, I remain your comrade. "Bob" R. B. Murphy