When Oran Perry, former commander of the 69th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, spoke at the seventh reunion held at Winchester, Indiana on August 27, 1891, he reminded everyone “These men were heroes once.”
“It is a long way back to the muster-out, and but for gatherings like this, the memories of the war would have fast faded out, and its lessons been unlearned. Each meeting is a revival of patriotism and an object lesson for the young. A new generation has come upon the stage, and as the veteran soldiers once more rally around the flag, venting an enthusiasm long pent up, greeting each other with friendly shout and affectionate embrace, the young folks look on wonderingly and say, What brings these men together? What is the bond of union? What is the tie that binds? Many of them they have known for years in the every day commonplace routine of life, and it is hard for them to realize that these men were heroes once…”
The men who gathered year after year looked older and older, grayer and grayer, but I imagine they could still see each other as the boys they were when they fought together in the Civil War.
The photo below, probably from one of the many reunions the 69th held, is only partially identified. Some of the men have names, a few remain nameless. The date and location of the photo are uncertain, but there’s no question that the boys had long since turned into men.
According to one man’s identification (see what was written on the reverse of the photo at the end below), some of the men pictured include:
Joseph Iliff (back row, left)
Served in Company F of the 69th, from August 1862 to the end of the war. He was a private when he mustered out at Mobile, Alabama on July 5, 1865. After the war, he opened a restaurant in Richmond, Indiana called “The Oyster Parlour,” which by the 1870s was known as a first-class dining room. This successively changed into a news depot, tobacco store, china store, and games and art store, all under the name of Iliff Brothers. Joseph died in 1917.
Alonzo “Lon” Marshall (back row, second from left)
Enlisted in Company D of the 69th in August 1862. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky and was paroled. He was wounded in the arm at the Battle of Thompson’s Hill during Grant’s movement against Vicksburg. After his injury, he transferred to the Invalid Corps (the Veteran Reserve Corps) and served as a clerk in a hospital in St. Louis. Some of his correspondence with his family from his time in St. Louis and before is in a collection at the Indiana Historical Society. He was discharged as a private at the end of the war.
Lafayette “Lafe” Larsh (back row, third from left)
Joined the 69th when it formed in August 1862. While still a private in Company A, he took sick at Young’s Point, Louisiana during the Vicksburg Campaign and was discharged for disability in May 1863. He re-enlisted as a sergeant in the 133rd Indiana, a unit that was raised for 100 days service beginning in May 1864. At the end of that time, he was authorized to raise a company and join the 147th Indiana. He was still serving as a lieutenant in May 1865.
William Hollopeter (back row, fourth from left)
Served in Company F of the 69th from August 1862 to the end of the war. He enlisted as a corporal and was discharged on July 5, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama as a first sergeant.
Rufus “Rufe” Newman (back row, fifth from left)
Enlisted as a private in Company A of the 69th on August 1, 1862. He mustered out as a corporal on July 5, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama.
Lewis Kinsey “L.K.” Harris (front row, left)
Helped raise Company F of the 69th and was elected its captain. He is my great-great grandfather. You can read a brief biography of his life and war service on my new blog at Indiana Soldier. Beginning in March or April 2011, I plan to post weekly on this new blog and trace the military service of L.K. over the next five years as we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.
Allen Grave (front row, fourth from left)
Began his service as a private in Company B of the 16th Indiana in November 1861. After his six-month term of service ended, he was discharged. He re-enlisted in Company F of the 69th in August 1862. He was wounded twice at the Battle of Thompson’s Hill, but served out his three year commitment and mustered out as a sergeant in July 1865.
Allen Coggeshall (front row, fifth from left)
Enlisted in Company E of the 69th in August 1862. After serving in many battles with the unit, he was discharged as a private in July 1865. In 1889, he was living in Altoona, Kansas, but by 1900 he had moved back to Indiana.
George Irwin (front row, sixth from left)
Started as a private in Company E of the 69th in the fall of 1862. He finished as a corporal and was mustered out with the unit in July 1865.
J. Stewart Bolander (front row, right)
Served as a sergeant in Company F, beginning in August 1862. He was promoted to first sergeant in the midst of the Vicksburg Campaign in July 1863. He was wounded in the engagement at Fort Blakely in Mobile in April 1865 and was discharged on June 5.