May 16-18, 1911 Confederate Veterans Reunion in Little Rock Pictures and story (Part 2)

This is colour video of Albert Woolson, the last Union veteran of the US Civil War; he is also the last absolutely confirmed veteran of that conflict from either side.

This footage, as far as I know, is the very last footage taken of a US Civil War veteran at all. I believe at least one still photograph of Woolson was taken after this video, however. Woolson outlived the second-last Union veteran (James Albert Hard) by well over 3 years, and the last verified Confederate veteran (Pleasant Crump) by about 5 years. Hard was the last verified combat veteran of the US Civil War, known to have been at the battles of Antietam and Chancellorsville.

Woolson never saw combat, but his father Willard died of wounds taken at the battle of Shiloh. Young Albert came into contact with the army because of this, when his mother moved them down to be with his father when he was trying to recover. He signed up as a drummer boy. The 1st Minn. Heavy Artillery Regiment never saw action, and Woolson was officially discharged on 7 September, 1865.

I really enjoyed the article “REBEL GRAY’S GOLDEN DAYS: In 1911, LR filled to the brim with Confederate veterans,” by Jake Sandlin that ran in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on May 15, 2011. It took 81 years before more people to gather in Little Rock for another event (Bill Clinton’s election to president)  I will be sharing portions of it the next few days and here is the second part:

There were 48 committees formed to oversee all aspects of the reunion, from lodging, food and entertainment to greeting arrivals at train depots and directing them to their destinations and suggesting businesses to patronize. The morning Arkansas Gazette and the afternoon Arkansas Democrat newspapers published reunion commemorative editions. The Democrat’s totaled 98 pages, highlighting a “modern-day” Little Rock, but fudged a bit by claiming a population of 65,000.

Federal military tents were erected throughout City Park (now MacArthur Park) to house and feed the 11,000-12,000 veterans — double the expectation — who came. The U.S. Congress unanimously approved legislation to supply the tents for the Confederate veterans. The state Legislature, on the other hand, refused to appropriate any money to help with the city-hosted reunion.

City schools were closed that week to be used for overflow housing. About 9,000 cots were placed in schools, in churches and even local government offices to take care of visitors for $1 per night. Residents opened their homes to still more. A campaign for women and schoolchildren to sell “tribute” buttons for $1 each statewide helped to raise funds to cover expenses.

Businesses were pressured to contribute to the cause. Hotels and boardinghouses were ordered to freeze their prices to assure fair treatment of the tourists. Merchants who donated money to the reunion could display yellow placards with official reunion seals in their windows to advertise their support, and their names were printed in the newspapers as supporters. The names of those who didn’t contribute were also publicized, Gurley said.

“Clearly, the organizers wanted to make sure Little Rock didn’t come away with a bad reputation, that the honor of the city was at stake,” Gurley said.

The hot-air balloon Arizona grounded in Camp Shaver at City Park (now MacArthur Park) during the 1911 United Confederate Veterans’ Reunion held in Little Rock (Pulaski County).

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