Bucktail Rifle Regiment Re-Union
Bradford, PA
September 25, 1886
From: McKean-The Governors County” Rufus Barrett Stone  Lewis Historical Publishing Co. 1928

Submitted by PHGS member Lloyd Lanphere

This is the date of the great Bucktail Rifle Regiment reunion at Bradford. Public meeting, Major A. C. Hawkins presiding. Among those who spoke were: Hon. Byron D. Hamlin, C. L. Wheeler, J. M. McClure, W. B. Chapman and Hon. W. W. Brown. The address of welcome (reprinted from the “Bradford Era”) was as follows.

“When vieing cloud and sunshine, balmy air and gorgeous forests are speaking welcome to our guests, it would be strange if the lips of man were dumb. When the long valleys have stretched out their arms to receive them and the hills have risen to shut them in, who can withhold our greeting? See, festive Bucktails! How that when you come to Bradford the very earth lends its own torches to drive away the shadows of the night; and, to-morrow, look out where the spurs of the Alleghenies have been wont to rest, and you will find the great masses of mountainous bouquets cast for you, as if it were in night, by all the applauding agencies of nature. Even the tired Tuna, though often furious with impatience and again threatening to hide itself in the gulf, has kept its promise yet and remained these many years to show you where in olden times the bucks came down to drink. But leaf and shrub have been kindly concealing the ancient trails as if they were too sacred for the rude gaze of unlineal eyes. And in their stead the iron tracks of the railways have been laid, but they, too, in all their hard and busy commerce, have never been unmindful that they were simply waiting your command. Try them and see if they are not obedient to your wishes. And be assured that you have come among a people with whom nature has conspired to bid you welcome, a people who love valor as their own, who teach your story to their children and look with added reverence upon these mountains as your native home. They have learned that you and your comrades saved a doubtful day at Gettysburg, that you charged like a flame of fire across the fields of Antietam and South Mountain, and on many a bloody day made the war cry “The Bucktails are coming!’ a slogan of terror in the ranks of the enemy.
  “Scipio exhorted his army to fight as if they fought before the walls of Rome. You fought as if the Nation looked breathlessly on. Like King Henry of Navarre, who at the battle of Ivry bound a white plume upon his crest, the commander of our armies might have cried out to his troops:  “Press where ye see the bucktail shine amid the ranks of war!”

“A thousand spurs are striking deep, a thousand spears in rest,
A thousand knights are pressing close behind the snow-white crest,
And in they burst and on they rushed, while like a guiding star,
Amid the thickest carnage blazed the helmet of Navarre”

“It is to the survivors of such a royal line and their households that the citizens of Bradford bid me extend a cordial welcome. You will all be brigadiers while you stay in our camp.”

“We welcome back our bravest and our best;
Ah me! Some come not with the rest,
Who went forth brave and bright as any here,
I strive to mix some gladness with my strain,
But the strings complain,
And will not please the ear.”

  “The inspiration of the leadership of a Kane, who sought with his sword the open sea of freedom, is a noble heritage to you and your generation; the distinguished  valor of a Taylor who wrote on the sword of Gettysburg more eloquent lines than his gifted kinsman ever penned; the final command of McNeill, as he fell expiring to the earth; ‘Forward, Bucktails, forward!” sounding in your ears through all the emergencies of peaceful life; these are among the imperishable stars that glow in your history. And where slumbers American poetry! For surely the Switzer Winkelreid, who gathered the spears of the enemy into his own bosom and thus ‘made way for liberty,’ must share the admiration of mankind with Martin Kelly, the Bucktail of Elk, who at the battle of Harrisonburg said to his commander:  ‘Colonel, I will draw their fire!’ and stepping from behind a tree received the rebel volley.”

“There sounds not to the tramp of fame
The echo of a nobler name,
Unmarked he stood amid the throng,
In rumination deep and long,
Till you might see, with sudden grace,
The very thought come o’er his face.”

  “Take thus one by the jewels from your casket, and we will keep them bright. Mingle with your dearest memories the cordial of our fraternal grasp; and in years to come remember the countersign that is on every lip to-night:  ‘Welcome, Bucktails, Welcome!’”

From: McKean-The Governors County” Rufus Barrett Stone  Lewis Historical Publishing Co. 1928

 

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