GAR Tablet History
In 1868, a scant three years after the close of the American Civil War, the freshly minted Grand Army of the Republic’s national commander, General John A. Logan, issued General Order #11, which requested all GAR posts hold a ceremony on the last Saturday of May. The purpose was aimed towards memorializing those who had perished from their service to this country during its great Civil War.
The membership of Towanda’s Watkins Post #68, after receiving the letter and offering up a short debate, voted to answer the call. However, with only weeks between reciept of General Logan’s letter and the cememrony date, the Watkins Post was pressed for time. Like the seasoned veterans they were, the task was handled with verve. In short order they voted upon laying a stone tablet in Riverside Cemetery, raised modest funds towards that end, purchased cemetery plots sufficient in size to accommodate the memorial stone and arranged a program, which included a parade from the Bradford County Court House.
The prescribed day dawned and participants began gathering shortly before noon. A delay was forced upon the organizers, as a severe thunderstorm passed through an hour before the intended stepping off time. Undaunted, a half an hour was added to the commencement time in hopes some of the mud in the streets would dry up. With the ringing of the Court House bell, the grand parade proceeded to march up Main Street, turn to the right onto Chestnut and then left on William Street. Upon their arrival at the cemetery, the assembled followed twenty-two school girls around the grounds while the youngsters strew each veteran’s grave with flowers. Whence completed, all retired to the tablet area where the ceremony continued with music and speeches until the program was completed.
Neglect over the years
With passing years, and no Civil War veterans left to care for the stone, weathering took its toll. It is possible the tablet would have sunk below ground level had it not been for tree roots propping it up. As the members of the Private Silas Gore Camp #141 began cataloging and tending to Civil War monuments througout the area, the condition of this tablet became a priority. To preserve this tablet, more than cleaning was needed. It was removed to install a permanent base, and then, like their GAR predecessors, Private Silas Gore Camp members devised and implemented a larger plan.
150 years later
Monies were raised, materials purchased and donated, and a structure was erected to raise and protect the tablet. Today, it is nearing completion in time for a re-dedication on the 150th anniversary of the first ceremony.
The membership of the Gore Camp envision duplicating, as near possible, the original dedication ceremony held 150 years ago. Just as before, there will be a parade from the Court House, and speakers and music at the cemetery as well as flowers being placed to adorn the graves of all the Civil War soldiers therein laid to rest.
As it was 150 years ago, the event will be held on the last Saturday in May. It will be open to the public and all are encourged to attend.
Pavilion Construction at Riverside Cemetery
With appreciation to our many donors
It is only fitting the financial and material donors receive recognition for their selflessly contributing. To that effect, we humbly thank the following:.