History of Antietam National Cemetery (The Oration of Ex-Governor Bradford)
THE ORATION OF EX-GOVERNOR BRADFORD.
Ex-Governor BRADFORD then delivered the Oration.
We have met here to-day, my countrymen, on one of the most memorable of the battle fields of our civil war, and we stand upon a site selected from the midst of it as an appropriate resting place for those who here laid down their lives as a sacrifice to the cause of free government and a National Union. We have come at the instance of the trustees, to whom the subject has been more especially committed, to dedicate by some public and official proceeding, on this, the anniversary of the battle, the spot so selected, hallowed as it is already, with every hill around it, in the heart of the nation.
To unite in this ceremony, the President of the United States, several members of the Cabinet, the Chief Justice of the United States, members of the National Legislature, Governors or other distinguished representatives of most of the States whose citizens formed the army of the Union, have honored us with their presence, meaning, I am sure, for themselves and those they represent to express by that presence their enduring gratitude to the soldiers, living or dead, who so nobly stood by them in their darkest hour of trial.
With such a company around me, and this vast throng in front, I feel as you may well imagine, to the fullest extent the responsibility of the duty to which I have been honored —an honor for which I am doubtless chiefly indebted to the accidental circumstance that I was to some extent officially connected with the initiation of the Cemetery, so far, at least, as the selection of its site was concerned.
When, directly after the battle of Antietam, an order was issued by the Executive of Maryland returning thanks to the officers and men of the Union army who had so successfully expelled the invader from our State, the Commanding General of that army, to whom it was transmitted, responded to it in terms that challenged our attention. Expressing, on behalf of the Army of the Potomac, their thanks for our appreciation of their achievements, and their hopes that no Rebel army would again pollute our State, he concluded by committing to us the remains of their gallant comrades who now rested beneath its soil. A commission so touchingly confided to the people of the State, to say nothing of the duty otherwise incumbent on them, could never become with them a subject of indifference or neglect, and at the first meeting, therefore, of their representatives in the General Assembly of January, 1864, an Act was passed
Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery.
# Augustus Williamson Bradford was governor of Maryland from 1862-1866, and was elected by the People under the Maryland Constitution of 1851.
Washington County Free Library.
23 x 14 cms
J.W. Woods, printer, Baltimore
Antietam National Cemetery; United States History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Registers of dead.
Washington County, Md; 1862-1869.