From the 20 January 1891 issue of The New York Times.




Southern reminiscences, Southern music, Southern cordiality, and a loyal Union sentiment were the controlling elements of an enthusiastic banquet given in the New-York Hotel last night by the Veteran Confederate Camp of this city. Nearly 150 ex-Confederates sat down to the handsomely-decorated tables in the large dining room of the hotel, and as their guests there were several distinguished Union soldiers. The room was profusely decorated with American flags. Emblems of the Southern Confederacy were conspicuous by thier absence. A large, full-length oil portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee, which adorned the wall at the upper end of the room, was applauded by Southerners and Northerners alike.

It was nearly 8:30 o’clock when the company marched into the banquet hall to the tune of “Dixie.” Col. W. G. Dickinson, Commander of the Veteran Confederate Camp of New-York, and “the last revel to surrender,” proudly escorted Gen. Daniel E. Sickles. Next came Col. Charles Marshall, Gen. R. E. Lee’s chief of staff, with Gen. Fitz John Porter. Then followed other Generals and Colonels, Majors and Captains, some of whom in the war wore the blue and some wore the gray.

While the dinner was enjoyed, an orchestra played old war songs, whose familiar airs aroused frequent applause. The numbers on the programme were about equally distributed between the songs best known in the Northern and in the Southern armies. Finally a well-trained quartet sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” with a fervor that induced the entire company to join in the chorus.

Over this fraternal and jolly board Col. Dickinson presided. Among the distinguished men who wielded the destructive cutlery under his approving eye were Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, Col. Charles Marshall, Gen. Fitz John Porter, Gen. E. P. Alexander, Bishop Potter, Gen. William C. Oates, Col. Charles T. O’Ferrall, Col. O. B. Cowardin, Col. John A. Cockerill, Major G. W. McLean, the Hon. John S. Wise, Col. W. W. Lamb, Gen. P. M. P. Young, the Reve. Dr. W. W. Page, the Hon. Benton McMillan, Hosea Perkins, First Lieut. Commander Dr. J. H. Parker, Second Lieut. Commander Col. J. J. Garnett, Third Lieut. Commander A. W. W. Hannagan, Major James R. McNulty, Chairman of the Executive Committee; William M. Connor, R. Kalish, Henry Cranston, A. R. Chisholm, Surrogate Ransom, the Rev. S. D. Tounsend, Floyd S. King, William Caldwell, James D. Peet, Col. Thomas P. Olchiltree, Col. Arthur S. Ezdra, and Major William S. Keiley.

President Harrison’s private secretary wrote that he had ben directed by his chief to say that “on account of the pressure of public business” the President would not be able to leave Washington to attend the dinner. Brief letters of regret were also read from ex-President Cleveland, Gov. Hill, Gov. Leon Abbett of New-Jersey, Gov. McKinney of Virginia, Gov. Fowle of North Carolina, Mayor Grant, Gen. John M. Schofield, Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, Gen. Custis Lee, Gen. J. E. Johnston, Gen. G. T. Beauregard, Gen. James Longstreet, Gen. William Mahone, Gen. J. B. Gordon, Gen. Bradley T. Johnston, Senators Blackburn, Vance, Eustis, and Congressmen Wilson of West Virginia, Breckinridge, Crisp, and Ashbel P. Fitch.

An invitation had been sent to Gen. Sherman, and the members of the committee were surprised that no word of acknowledgment was received from the distinguished Union soldier. The belief was generally expressed that the invitation had failed to reach Gen. Sherman.

Commander Dickinson lost his seat just before the sorbet was served and retired quietly from the room. In a few minutes he returned with Miss Winnie davis on his arm. The presence of Jefferson Davis’s daughter in the room was known, and had been the topic of conversation among the ex-Confederate banqueters. They lady was instantly recognized and vociferously cheered. She was led to the President’s chair and formally introduced to the company.

She presented a youthful and pleasing picture as she stood and gracefully bowed her acknowledgments. On her breast she wore half a dozen glistening medals that had been presented to her father by various Southern organizations. The sight of the “fair daughter of the Confederacy” thus adorned stimulated the enthusiasm of the ex-Confederates to the highest pitch, and a proposition to salute her with the “old rebel yell” met with a quick and loud-lunged response. The Duchess d’Auxy, the daughter of Judge Lamar, accompanied Miss Davis.

In his opening address Commander Dickinson said that the object of the Confederate Veterans’ Camp was charity and comradeship. There were about 20,000 ex-Confederates in the city of New-York.

The toast “In Memory of Gen. Robert E. Lee” was received with much enthusiasm, and was responded to by Col. Charles Marshall, one of the very few surviving members of Gen. Lee’s staff. The Colonel paid a fervent tribute to the memory of the great Confederate chieftain, describing him as “a great soldier and one of the noblest men among men.” He narrated instances of gen. Lee’s generous impulses and forbearing disposition. Gen. Lee, the speaker said, never executed a spy. He used to say: “Poor fellows, we have got them, and they can’t do us any harm. What is the use of killing them?”

Once when Col. Marshall had approved an order of Gen. J. B. Gordon to shoot two Union spies Gen. Lee ordered him to erase his written approval and write to Gen. Gordon to revoke his order.

Speaking of the numerous pictures of Gen. Lee’s surrender that had been published, Col. Marshall ventured the criticism that not one of them did Gen. Lee justice, and he jocosely added that at the time of the surrender there was not enough whisky in the South to make a man as drunk as he was represented to be in some of the pictures.

Col. Marshall told an interesting story of the surrender of Gen. Lee to Gen. Grant. As the bearer of the preliminary correspondence between Lee and Grant it was his privilege to actually put a stop to the hostilities between the two armies. When he entered the Union lines protected by a flag of truce, bearing a letter from Gen. Lee to Gen. Grant, he was astonished to find that Gen. Meade was about to make an attack on Lee’s forces. He induced one of gen. Meade’s officers to procure a cessation of hostilities for one hour. Subsequently he heard firing from the front ranks of the Confederate forces. He hastened to that locality and found a small force of Confederates under Fitzhugh Lee fighting. They had captured a couple of guns and a few hundred Union soldiers. After he had explained his mission, Fitzhugh Lee ordered the firing to be stopped, and that was the last of the fighting between the armies of Lee and Grant.

In describing the final act of the great surrender Col. Marshall told how Gen. Grant, after writing out th econditions of the surrender in pencil, handed the paper to his chief of staff, Col. Orville Parker, to be copied; Gen. Lee’s acceptance of the conditions, also written in pencil, was handed to the speaker to be copied. Both of the penciled drafts had been written on a small wooden table. Taking that table into a corner of the room, Cols. Parker and Marshall sat down to it an dcopied the two papers in ink from a small boxwood inkstand which Marshall happened to have in his pocket.

When that work was completed the two chiefs of staff arose, Col. Parker handed Gen. Grant’s terms to Col. Marshall, and Col. Marshall handed Gen. Lee’s acceptance to Col. Parker. That completed the surrender. When the speaker alluded to Gen. Grant’s order that 20,000 rations should be dealt out from the Union stores to the Confederate soldiers, a hearty cheer went up from the banqueters.

Somebody propossed that the company drink to the memory of Gen. Grant, and instantly every man was on his feet, glass in hand. Col. Marshall remarked, “Southern soldiers may well honor the memory of Gen. Grant, for throughout the proceedings leading up to the actual surrender no man could have acted in a more manly, more liberal, and more American spirit than did Gen. Grant.” [Cheers.]

“Let us build him a monument!” shouted Major William S. Keiley.

“Yes! yes! yes!” came from every quarter of the room.

Commander Dickinson rose and said impressively: “I pledge the best efforts of the united Confederate camps to aid in the building of a suitable monument to Gen. Grant.” This pledge was greeted with hearty cheers.

Gen. Daniel E. Sickles spoke to the sentiment, “Let Us Have Peace.” He was greeted with cheers. Several ex-Confederates waved their napkins and shouted: “He’s the man we want to hear. He was there.” Gen. Sickles spoke feelingly of the good fellowship that now existed between the ex-soldiers of the North and the South, and said that no American citizen of the present day would hesitate to pay homage to the two great Generals, Grant and Lee. In conclusion, he expressed the hope that the fraternal feeling in this great country would never again be disturbed by a civil war.

Bishop Potter related some personal reminiscences of Gen. Robert E. Lee, which were listened to with close attention and applauded with great vigor. He said that Gen. Lee was one of the most splendid illustrations of a chivalrous and Christian gentleman in his generation.

Gen. William C. Oates of Alabama made a stirring speech in response to the toast “The Confederate Veterans.” Speeches were also made by Col. Charles t. O’Ferrall, the Hon. John S. Wise, Col. Cockerill, the Hon. Benton McMillin, and others. It was explained by some of the speakers that this dinner was given in the New-York Hotel because after the close of the war mine host Cranston befriended all ex-Confederates that came to this city.