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July 3, 2012
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Civil War Dedication | None should be forgotten

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The American Civil War, fought from 1861-1865, remains the bloodiest war in our great nation's history, with an estimated 680,000 soldiers dead and an untold amount of civilian casualties. The battles ravaged the countryside, pit families against families, leaving a swath of animosity and destruction, but ultimately preserving the Union.

A ceremony was held at Truckee's historic Sierra Mountain Cemetery the morning of June 23, 2012, to honor six recently identified Civil War veterans buried there.

The morning was gray and cool. Clouds scuttled across the sky, shading and illuminating participants and onlookers during the formal ceremony, for the soldiers who received headstones and to remember all of those who have been forgotten.

Although it was centered around Civil War veterans, it was a reminder all who serve should never be forgotten and should be honored. Vietnam veterans stood at full attention, saluting the Civil War dead, many veterans stood proud and misty-eyed, showing the brotherhood that exists within the military.

These people give and gave their all.

Who lies there?

Congressman McClintock named the veterans who once again have markers over their graves: Daniel Farver, a private in the Pennsylvania volunteers, wounded in the horrific carnage at Fredricksberg; Capt. Charles Fox, captured at Petersburg, survived a Confederate prison camp and returned alive to fight the final battles near Richmond; Fritz Hohn, a German immigrant from Mechlenburg who arrived in his adopted nation and fought to preserve it; Charley Lunn, a Scottish immigrant who fought in the Paiute War at Pyramid Lake; Jed Gibbs, who defended the Capitol in Washington, later fighting in the Red River campaign.

His words indicated the Golden State's participation was not necessary: “From any parochial perspective, Californians had no personal stake in the war. Their towns and commerce weren't threatened. They were insulated from the carnage by a thousand miles of nearly impassable mountains and deserts. They could have very easily sat out this most cataclysmic war in peace and quiet and prosperity.

“Here is the fine point of it. They didn't sit out the war. More Californians volunteered for the Union Army per capita than any other state in the Union.”

Remembering our forefathers

Congressman McClintock stated we are rapidly forgetting what our ancestors endured so we could live in a nation of incredible freedoms.

This ceremony showed men, women and children who participate as reenactors or dedicate their time to preserving our history do this with love and honor in their hearts. These groups of people believe we should, all of us, never forget our history, even if that history was created yesterday.

Participating in the ceremony were the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, specifically the Gen. Wm. Passmore Carlin Camp No. 25 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), established on June 2, 2003. The Camp was named after Gen. William P. Carlin (1829-1903). The Camp serves Nevada north of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway (U.S. 6) including all of White Pine County and the City of Tonopah. In eastern California, it also includes all of Mono and Alpine Counties, the eastern parts of El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, and Sierra Counties, and Plumas County south of State Route 70.

The Patriot Guard Riders, whose loud pipes rumbled through the Truckee morning and into the cemetery. Whose mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes, as invited guests of the family.

The Battle Born Civil War Reenactors, who use living history as a means of helping the public gain a better understanding of the American Civil War. Both Union and Confederate Brigades are recreations of actual regiments and companies that fought in the war, including infantry, cavalry and artillery.

The Mountain Belles, Truckee's own female a capella group, dressed in period costume, regaled the audience with medleys including the Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie.

The Fort Point Garrison Band, a Northern California-based 19th century reenactment band, performing period music on period instruments.

The California Consolidated Drum Band, the official fife and drum corps of the state of California.

The Truckee Civil Air Patrol; the Railroad Regulators, 601, Truckee; the Truckee Donner Historical Society; Easy Sound by Frank and Marta Kavka, and Bryan DeVoe and Greg Van Loon “for all that you do,” were present.

This ceremony showed the men, women and children who participate as reenactors or dedicate their time to preserving our history as the SUVCW does, do this with love and honor in their hearts. They are a group of people who believe we should all never forget our history, even it that history was created yesterday.

This extends itself to our heroes of today.

Congressman McClintock concluded:

“I suspect, if they could speak to us from these graves today, they would repeat Webster's plea,

“Hold fast, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands — for miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6,000 years may not happen again. Hold fast to the Constitution, for if the American Republic should ever fail, there will be chaos throughout the world.”

Find Congressman McClintock's full speech online at sierrasun.com, and a photo gallery at www.facebook.com/SierraSun1.

I want to thank the Truckee Cemetery District and the Truckee Donner Historical Society, and especially Chaun Mortier, for their work in organizing today's commemoration and for restoring the grave stones of the six Civil War veterans whose names once again are marked over their last remains:

Daniel Farver, a private in the Pennsylvania volunteers, wounded in the horrific carnage at Fredricksberg; Capt. Charles Fox, captured at Petersburg, survived a Confederate prison camp and returned alive to fight the final battles near Richmond; Fritz Hohn, a German immigrant from Mechlenburg who arrived in his adopted nation and fought to preserve it; Charley Lunn, a Scottish immigrant who fought in the Paiute War at Pyramid Lake; Jed Gibbs, who defended the Capitol in Washington, later fighting in the Red River campaign.

These men, having served with distinction to preserve the Union ultimately took Horace Greeley's advice to go West and grow with the nation.

The final soldier we honor today is Daniel Thorndyke. He was a Californian who joined Company F in Sacramento — one of 17,000 Californians who enlisted to preserve the Union.

I want to single him out particularly and his 17,000 fellow Californians who answered Lincoln’s call, because it is a story that is sadly fading from memory.

This Golden State was so far removed from the horrific conflagration in the east that it took ten days by telegraph and Pony Express rider for the news of Fort Sumter's fall to reach California.

From any parochial perspective, Californians had no personal stake in the war. Their towns and commerce weren't threatened. They were insulated from the carnage by a thousand miles of nearly impassable mountains and deserts. They could have very easily sat out this most cataclysmic war in peace and quiet and prosperity.

Here is the fine point of it. They didn’t sit out the war. More Californians volunteered for the Union Army per capita than any other state in the Union.

More than Lincoln's home state of Illinois; more than Pennsylvania where the Battle of Gettysburg was waged; more than New York, the cradle of abolition.

More Californians volunteered for the Union Army per capita than any other state in the Union.

Daniel Thorndyke was one of them.

Thousands of Californians traversed those hostile deserts and foreboding mountains as the California One Hundred and the California Cavalry Battalion.

The First California Regiment under Edward Baker suffered so many casualties in the autumn of 1861 that what remained of them simply merged with the Pennsylvania Volunteers. Who knows if Pennsylvanian Daniel Farber's decision to come west to Truckee didn't begin with the California volunteers who came East to fight at his side?

The California Column under Col. James Carleton stopped the westward advance of Confederate forces at the Battle of Picacho Pass in Arizona, they liberated Tucson and then pushed back the Texas volunteers through New Mexico and ultimately captured Forts Bliss and Davis and Witman in Texas.

California's gold fields produced much of the wealth that financed the Union cause and Californians like Thorndyke kept the supply routes and communications lines secure and the gold moving throughout the war, often against hostile Indian forces.

Of the southwestern campaign of the California column, Army Chief of Staff Henry Halleck said, “It is one of the most creditable marches on record. I only wish our Army here (in the east) had the mobility and endurance of the California troops.”

A generation ago, we still honored the memory of these Californians with a permanent display of their drums and banners and memorabilia in the Capitol Rotunda in Sacramento. Sadly, those proud relics have now been replaced with the self-indulgent, politically-correct foppery of a superficial generation fast losing the memory of freedom.

That is why today's event is so important and so hopeful. Here in Truckee, a group of citizens resolved that these honored graves would not be overgrown with weeds and the memory of these men and the call they answered so long ago would not, like the old soldiers of MacArthur's ballad, just fade away.

Graves that were about to be forgotten have been rediscovered, fresh markers have been procured. The good names and heroic deeds of these men have been restored.

And most importantly, once again “this story shall the good man teach his son.”

Today’s proceedings mean that despite the difficulties of the present — or maybe because of the difficulties of the present — this generation of Americans is rediscovering those uniquely American principles for which this ancient struggle was waged, and is rising once again to Daniel Webster's clarion call of “liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable.”

The men we honor today who fought for that cause and came west — and especially Daniel Thorndyke and the 17,000 Californians who could have stayed safe at home but instead went east — did so because they saw a cause bigger than themselves, a struggle worth fighting for, a vision of a free nation worth dying for, and a future for their children worth living for. And as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “it is for us the living rather … to take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”

We remember them today because by doing so, we have a means to weigh ourselves in the balance and measure whether we are doing everything we can to defend the uniquely American principles of individual liberty and constitutional government that they rose to perfect and protect, and then handed us to practice and preserve — principles that produced the most successful and prosperous Republic in the history of the world.

I suspect, if they could speak to us from these graves today, they would repeat Webster’s plea,

“Hold fast, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands — for miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6,000 years may not happen again. Hold fast to the Constitution, for if the American Republic should ever fail, there will be chaos throughout the world.”


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 3, 2012 05:18PM Published Jul 3, 2012 04:34PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.