Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dedication Exercises at the Eighth Iowa Regimental Monument: Shiloh National Military Park

November 22, 1906

11:35 A. M.

Music: Fifty-fifth Iowa Regimental Band
“Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Introduction of speaker:
Colonel William B. Bell

Governor Cummins, Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have a few words to say on behalf of the Eighth Iowa regiment on this memorial occasion. Colonel James L. Geddes commanded this regiment during the first day’s fight at Shiloh. In the evening he was taken prisoner. He is now gone to his reward.

I had expected to have Professor A. N. Currier of the Iowa State University, who was a private soldier in this regiment, make some remarks on this occasion. It was impossible for him to be here and I have selected another private soldier of the Eighth Iowa regiment who is present here today to make the address. Before introducing him, however, I am gratified to be able to announce to the audience that two sons of General Prentiss are with us and we will introduce them at the conclusion of the address.

Private Asa Turner, Eighth Iowa Regiment

Governor Cummins, Members of the Commission, Comrades and Fellow Citizens:

I have sometimes wondered what made Iowa’s troops invincible. I have thought much over the matter, and I believe I can tell you why. Drummond says, “The greatest thing in the world is love.”  The Divinity who walked the Galilean shore said, “Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”

When the call to duty came to the Iowa boys, they hurried from the schools, from the farms and from the shops. They received the benediction of those who waited behind — whose mission it was to love, to watch, to wait and to weep. A farewell kiss upon the cheek from wife and mother and sister and sweetheart. Do you wonder that having stood, they were able to stand, with the eyes of the motherhood and the wifehood and the sisterhood and all the sweethearts of the north upon them, backed by the greater love of Divinity?

For the first time under fire right there (pointing) — a boy of eighteen — what a flood of memories come trooping up when I think of those days and of the boys who came with us. Was it hope of reward or fame or wealth that brought them?  No!  It was this greater love, that coming at the crucial period in the nation's history, made them willing to stand, and they did stand, upon this very spot, laved in the blood of the forty who died here, of the eighteen who died of mortal wounds, of the one hundred and thirteen wounded; and we will say that all the rest were taken south. So today we commemorate their deeds. Would that I had the power to send a wireless message up through the ether blue to the comrades who have gone before. I would say, comrades, though you are absent, you are not forgotten. We have kept your memory green. We have told of your deeds of valor to the child and the grandchild at our knees. At our firesides, at campfires, at gatherings, on decoration days, we have remembered you.

Now we know that the eventide of life is coming. It is not for long ere the reveille will sound for us the last time, for we are gathering home, one by one; and then, comrades, we will join glad hands with you, feeling that the men behind the guns acted well their part.

Governor Cummins, to you, who so ably championed the cause of the two sister regiments whose cause was dear to us, we commit this monument.  I thank you.

Colonel Bell said:

“I have the pleasure of presenting to this gathering two sons of General Prentiss who fought so nobly upon this field — Jacob H. Prentiss and E. W. Prentiss.”

Mr. B, W, Prentiss said:

Governor Cummins, Survivors of the Battle of Shiloh, Ladies and Gentlemen:

While we did not come here to talk we take this opportunity to express our appreciation of this great privilege, of attending these beautiful ceremonies. It is too bad that so few of the brave men of Shiloh survive to see and hear these splendid tributes to their sacred memory and to their bravery.

While the two Iowa regiments assigned to father's division — the Fifteenth and Sixteenth — were not with him here in this Hornet's Nest; these other Iowa regiments of which you have heard were very close to him and to his command and the Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth were taken prisoners with him. And as they were very close to him in the line of battle, so were they ever close to his heart and lovingly treasured in his memory. They were with him in prison and he loved them and never forgot them.

We thank you for the warm greeting that you have extended to us for the sake of his memory, and accept it in the same spirit.

Rev. Dr. A. L. Frisbie of Des Moines, Iowa

“We offer thee praise, Almighty One, because of the free and generous gifts — an offering of love, the love of true hearts, the love of homes and fathers and mothers, and of all who loved the young men who came forth that they might champion the great cause for which they suffered and died, that they might redeem their land from peril, that they might save the nation. We thank thee for their success, for the nobility of their sacrifice, and the love which animated them. And now, our Father, guide us still, and help us to be worthy of all the sacrifice that they made for us, in the name of Christ.  Amen.”

SOURCE:  Alonzo Abernathy, Editor, Dedication of Monuments Erected By The State Of Iowa, 234-6

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