Nov. 18, 1863 - 150 years ago today - President Abraham Lincoln was on his way to Gettysburg, Pa., to give a speech for the dedication of the National Cemetery.
Arriving at Baltimore in the afternoon, his coach was transferred from the B&O Railroad to the Northern Central and then the train stopped at Hanover Junction to be switched to the Gettysburg line.
Lincoln's private secretaries, John Hay and John Nickolay, as well as Secretary of State William Seward and other dignitaries, accompanied him.
At dusk they reached Gettysburg and immediately were escorted to David Will's house, where they stayed.
The famous America orator Edward Everett was the main speaker and Lincoln was to say a few words after. The New York Tribune under the leadership of Horace Greeley decided to send John Davenport to cover the dedication, possibly because he knew shorthand and would have to transcribe Lincoln's speech. Everett's speech was already in type.
Editor Sidney Howard Gay chose Davenport, for they all knew the dedication would be a great pageant and would need a reporter accustomed to studying as well as describing battlefields.
That night, Gettysburg quadrupled its population. The battle had not just scrapped the landscape, it changed all the citizens' lives.
The military hospital still had men unable to be moved. Three days after the battle, photographers arrived to document dead soldiers, not yet buried.
Civil War soldiers had no means of identification, like dog tags. Many Union soldiers were only recognized by unit identification on their uniforms. Many wrote their names on paper affixed to their uniforms. Southern soldiers sometimes did not have even that.
Gettysburg citizens had the task of burying the dead. Because of this devastation, it was decided to have a national cemetery.
David Wills, a prominent citizen, had been in charge of burials, supported establishment of the cemetery, purchased 17 acres of the battlefield for the cemetery and with support from Governor Curtin, invited Lincoln.
The president seldom left Washington unless to consult with a general, but he accepted because he felt his duty was to honor the men who had fought at Gettysburg and more recent battles and also to comfort the grieving families as well as the entire nation, from constant loss in these battles.
He dined with Seward, Hay, Nickolay, a French Minister, military and naval officers, as well as Edward Everett. Everett talked of the scarred trees, shattered by the battle and all the graves with wood markers or rocks for covering.
Later, Boston friends bemoaned Lincoln's lack of social graces and Everett defended the President, saying that he was the peer of anyone in manners, appearance and conversation.
About 9 p.m., the 5th New York Artillery band serenaded Lincoln. He responded with a short speech. Then he retired to his room, where he worked on his address that he had started in Washington. He showed it to Seward that night and likely put the finishing touches on it the next morning, Nov. 19, 1863.
That morning was crisp, with a bright sun that made the surrounding hills look blue. Some of the newspaper reporters stayed outside the Will's house and cheered the president as he came to the door, then all the reporters hurried to the platform which was to be the speaker's platform and took their place on wooden benches. Governors, senators and generals sat opposite the newsmen alongside the platform.
All the newsmen present were young; 20 to 21 were their ages: Joseph Becker, who sketched for Frank Leslie's; Charles Hale from the Boston Advertiser was a student at Harvard; Davenport and Joseph Gilbert of the Associated Press and Isaac Allen of the Ohio State Journal at Columbus; as well as men representing the Philadelphia Inquirer, Cincinnati Gazette, Cincinnati Commercial, two Chicago papers and all the New York papers.
They all had copies of Everett's speech, which lasted for more than two hours. They had badgered Lincoln's secretary for information to no avail.
One reporter recalled what happened after Everett was finished. He said that Everett looked exhausted as well as excited. Congratulatory handshakes, with the president and Secretary of State Seward being the first.
Music played, then the president rose, stood deliberately, waiting until the cheers ceased, slowly adjusted his glasses and took from his pocket an ordinary folded paper, quietly unfolded it and began reading.
The reporters were all eagerly listening but they had been sitting on the cold benches for 2 1/2 hours and were distracted by a photographer who had set up his camera, constantly adjusting the lens and arranging a black cloth, dodging this way and that to get a glimpse of the president's face.
After the speech, Joseph Gilbert of the Associated Press secured a copy of the address, so the New York reporters discarded their notes.
However, Gilbert was not accurate, reporting that Lincoln said ''the refinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on." The Philadelphia reporter also was inaccurate quoting Lincoln as saying, ''The world will little know and nothing remember what we see here."
The Harvard student had several discrepancies like, ''The world can never forbid what they did here."
They also inserted applause in their reports, but others who were present said there was little applause except for the end.
One reporter had the impression that the people were indifferent to the speech but that was far from the truth. Standing beside Isaac Allen (Ohio State Journal), was an officer with one limp sleeve. When Lincoln said, "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,'' The officer broke down and buried his face in his handkerchief.
There were more soldiers present, but many like Gen. John Gibbon and Frank Haskell, adjutant who was at the copse of trees, later called the high water mark of the Confederacy, and had written about the battle of Gettysburg, did not hear the speakers. They were going over the ground, where the battle had been fought.
Ohio soldiers in the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 105th OVI, and other troops were in Tennessee preparing under General Grant's leadership to attack the Confederate Army. They were fighting, not reflecting the way President Lincoln did, so exquisitely choosing words to express courage and sacrifice.
In Everett's closing words, he compared the unity of the English after their War of the Roses and other European conflicts, which ended up binding the countries together. He predicted the United States would unite, in a rock hard foundation of democracy.
William Seward expressed the same and, of course that was Lincoln's thoughts.
The following is according to Louis M. Starr the words of Lincoln spoken Nov. 19, 1863:
''Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
''Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
''We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We are met to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place of those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
''But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
''The world will little note nor long remember what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.
''It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on.
''It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.''
Every year Lincoln's address is commemorated as Remembrance Day at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Reactors march in a parade, place wreathes on their units monuments and listen to a man portraying Lincoln recite the Gettysburg Address.
Sources: ''Bohemian Brigade, Civil War Newsmen in Action,'' by Louis M Starr, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1954; ''War for the Union 1863-1864, the Organized War,'' by Allan Nevins, Konecky & Knocecky, New York, 1971
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.