Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 27, 2013

What was the big news 150 years ago?

By Pat Smith
Daily News

---- — A word before this week’s column - please note that you are invited to the First Presbyterian Church on the Square Dec. 8.

Alice Goddard was church organist there for 18 years and never missed a Wednesday evening to practice with the choir. Her dedication to the church love of music has led her sons Steve, Phillip and Alan to establish Carillon Bells in her honor. The bells will ring for the first time Sunday, Dec. 8, before the worship service at 10:30 a.m. A reception will take place in the Memorial Room following the church service and the plaque, given by her family, will ring again after the dedication. You will be welcome.

The Military Times loaned by Tom Imel of the American Legion is about the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 – July 3, 1863). A few short news stories about world current affairs are included. Some were about countries that are still in the news.

Big news 150 years ago was that people could mail letters to the Ottoman Empire’s territories in Iraq. Mail could be sent to Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk (also known as the Turkish Empire.) As usual, there had been “sporadic fighting between the tribes in the area.”

Prince Gojong had been declared the 26th ruler of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty at the age of 10. Korea was an independent territory of China and had been ruled by the Joseons for more than five centuries. U.S. relations with Korea had “cracked open” in 1853 when the gunboat South America made a port call. Washington was interested in expanding trade to Asia and would probably make another port call when the ‘War between the States was over.’

Dost Mohammad Khan, the Emir of Afghanistan, died and his son, Sher Ali Khan assumed the throne. Mohammad had been trying to reunite the war torn country since the British withdrew in the 1840s after their invasion failed to tame the region.

An Army surgeon told about the men faking various maladies to secure exemption from duty. The term “malingerer,” had been the term in use to indicate one of the pseudo-sick men. The new term was “dead beat,” borrowed from the Bowery district. The doctor said the use of the new term had almost reached the dignity of “skedaddle.” (I don’t know if that was a joke.)

The trial of Brigham Young had been adjourned without taking action following his arrest for polygamy. “Young, former governor of the Utah territory and spiritual leader of the Latter-day Saints movement, allegedly has dozens of wives.”

One grave at Gettysburg is for a Decatur County man. The 1990 book “Lest We Forget,” compiled by Bill Ford and the F W states that William T. Ryland of Co. G, 7th Infantry, was killed on the last day, July 3, 1863 in action at Gettysburg (body not recovered.)

A paper read at the April 19, 1895 meeting of the Pap Thomas Post, No. 5, Grand Army of the Republic about the 7th Infantry’s Co. F states “William T. Ryland, private, better known here at ‘Tom Watson,’ was killed July 2, 1863.” No reason given why he was known by another name. The 7th Indiana was to guard the corps trains until relieved by another regiment. Colonel Grover got a bit impatient when the regiment didn’t show and decided to leave for the front anyway. Then while they were on their way to the front the word came about the battle at Gettysburg and they marched off to fight there. They got to the battlefield in the early evening. They were assigned to a site and got right into the battle.

Company F of the 7th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment had 437 men on the Gettysburg field on July 3. Two were killed in battle, five were wounded and three were missing. Col. Grover was later brought before a court martial for abandoning his post guarding the trains, but was exonerated.

That book “The Civil War Begins: Recollections of three soldiers of the Seventh Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment,” was edited with an introduction by Calvin D. Davis in 2011. It contains the recollections of Assistant Surgeon G.W.H Kemper (1898), First Lieutenant Orville Thomson (1895) and Captain Alexander Pattison (1882.) The Historical Society’s Museum on N. Franklin has the book.

At least 2,200 men from Indiana fought at Gettysburg, 522 men from Indiana were casualties and many among the first casualties. Today there are monuments for each regiment that fought there. In addition, there is a monument dedicated to all Indiana men who fought there. It’s made of Barre Granite from Vermont and Indiana limestone.