In 1867 at the age of 18 Dillon F. Hatch, my g-g-grandfather, wrote a patriotic speech which he possibly gave for a class. We are lucky enough that one of our Shaw cousins has this speech and made copies for others to enjoy. So, I thought that this would be a most appropriate post for the upcoming 4th of July celebration.
First a little background on Dillon. He was born in Grand Isle County, Vermont in 1849 to Oscar Hatch and Olive Robinson. His parents were decently well off members of society, so he received a very modern, thorough, education. He even kept a diary for a short time and practiced his writing in it, something for which he received high marks in school.
He probably apprenticed as a carpenter in his younger years, as he eventually went into the furniture making business. His repertoire included windows, and doors (one of his patented designs was in a previous post on my blog). Sometime in the 1880s he moved his wife, Almira (Brooks) and their children to Ohio, where Dillon managed a large furniture factory until he retired.
He never fought in any wars himself, his age, (too young, too old), would always get in the way of any patriotic fervor he might have had.
The speech that we have here was written in honor of the soldiers who fought in two wars: the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War, which had just ended two years earlier.
I am including a .pdf file of the complete speech in his own handwriting (albeit a photocopy). But below, for easier reading, I am giving you the transcribed version. He had many misspellings and poor punctuation, I tried to keep those errors in the transcription, however, sometimes autocorrect fixes those things, so I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the ‘errors’. Note: because of the time period in which he is writing this speech he does use the term ‘Negro’ when discussing the Civil War, I did not change it to a more appropriate or politically correct term, as that would be presumptive and just plain bad history. Just know that he is not using the term in a derogatory manner and is a reflection of the time period .
The Soldiers of the Republic
The present generation owes a debt of gratitude to all who have preceded us, but none, a greater debt than to the Soldiers of the Republic, those who fought and bled for their county’s cause who willingly sacrificed their lives in its defense. This of what our fathers endured to build up this great Republic when they were weighed down by the power of a tyrant whom they so bravely resisted and whose power they threw off , and thus became an independent nation. how staring are those memories of the Revolution, how precious the names of the actors on the theater of war, in the times that tried mans souls. With pride and gratitude we think of Warren, who, when offered the command of different parts of the field at the battle of Bunker Hill, refused, saying that he came out to fight as a common soldier, and not to command, and fighting as such he nobly fell. Warren Putmann, Pomeroy, Stark, glorious names that were not born to die. There were instances in our late war of the Rebellion of unselfish devotion to country such as is seldom seen. Such was the devotion of Ellsworth, assassinated in the very act of raising the Stars and Stripes and of trailing the Rebel flag in the dust.
We honor such as the true, noble, soldier of the Republic. But what do we owe to them. There are very few who really understand and appreciate this.
Look and behold the bright and peaceful homes scattered throughout the land, for their preservation the soldier willingly shed his blood on the field of battle. But let us compare our soldiers with those of other nations. When war was declared between Great Briton and the colonies the nations look upon it as merely an out-break of some inferior power and not requiring much force to put it down, but they are mistaken, they found a nation of soldiers though not, perhaps, as well drilled as some pf the old soldiers of the European armies but they are men that were used to hardships, and toil, and they fought fearless of danger, in defense of home and country, which they loved as life its self. In this they differed greatly from those of other nations. I do not mean to say that the people of other nations do not have this love for their county, for I do not think a nation could long exist were it not for that. But the great difference is this; our soldiers come from the people to defend their homes, instead of being those who fight for pay.
How the nation was moved by the fall of Fort Sumpter. The nation as one man, rose demanding retribution for the act, and they sought it by hurling thousands of men down upon them which crushed them out in a few year’s of war. But it was love of freedom that helped to do this more than any thing else, freedom that great boon which all men seem striving to attain. There is nothing like ones fighting for freedom and home, to bring out all the bravery and courage of the soul. A man hitherto thought to be very timid, will sometimes under the circumstances perform deed’s which seem almost incredible. No love is stronger than that for home and father-land, and it was because of this love of home that our citizen’s rose up in such numbers to defend heir altairs and their homes. (Switzerland in this respect, is most like our own nation. It stands surrounded by Empires and Kingdoms as a monument to freedom it cannot be conquered, nor can or own.) The American nation is alive at the heart and could not be destroyed by a war of centuries. The Rebell’s were actuated[sic] by an impulse to save their homes from destruction, they thought our northern soldiers would bring upon them. The lower class supposed for a time that our soldiers were bands of lawless robbers and murders, but they found their mistake after our army had passed through the country.
We have an illustration showing how love of freedom nerves the arm of the soldier in battle, in the use of negroes as soldiers in the late war. When they were first used by Fremont in Missoura, nearly all of the citizens of that state and of the other states answered him severly, because of it, and even the President refused to let him use them as such, but it was not long before they found that it was a very great mistake. Negroes became after a while some of the best and bravest soldiers in our army. The Rebells soon learned this and tried the same thing, but it did not succeed as well with them as with us, for the reason that they were fighting for their freedom when fighting with us, but when they were on the other side they were only fighting in defense of slavery that great evil they were trying to escape, and thus they fought with us for freedom and found it.
Honor to the soldier. Let his name be cherished let his children be nourished by the Republic let his lonely widow have no occasion to call in question the gratitude of the nation, let the sod be green over his grave, and let the marble colum and granite shaft rise all over the land to perpetuate the name and the noble deed’s of the American Soldier.
Have a great 4th OF JULY!!