The Grand Army of the Republic is passing in review. The total number of survivors is now 620,000, figures being obtained as follows: The last official enrollment made by the pension authorities at Washington, June, 1907, was 655,338. Deducting 2,500 a month, for nine intervening months, there were 22,000 deaths.
The old guard is dying off at the rate of ninety a day but the death losses each month are often higher. In 1906, grand army survivors died to the number of 29,208, and in 1907 the loss was 31,201; for the year 1908 the death rate will be unquestionably between 35,000 and 37,000, if not higher. For the old soldiers of the republic now have reached the average of 63. Deaths will come faster and faster still: and, within ten years the noble army will be all but a memory.
Had the soldiers of the Civil war not been mere lads in their teens, the Grand Army would long ere this have perished from the earth. But the Union was saved literally by boys-boys in their teens: and many had not even reached their teens.
Startling as this statement seems. it is indisputably borne out by the official records:
There were 2,778,309 enlistments. as follows :
At the age of 10 and under, 25.
At the age of 12 and under, 225.
At the age of 14 and under, 1,523.
At the age of 16 and under, 884,391.
At the age of 18 and under, 1,151, 438
At the age of 21 and under, 2.159.798.
At 22 years of age and over, 618.511.
Adding the number under 21 and above 22-that is. 2,159.798 and 618.511-the total enrollment was 2.778,309.
There are some very old men in the Grand Army of the Re-public ; and this is reason why the death losses will be exceedingly high in the years near at hand. There will be some time when the last roll call will be responded to each month by no less than 5,000 of the brave heroes of ’61 : for already that figure has been touched by one-half and over, and is growing with alarming rapidity.
Never in the world’s history, before our day, was a nation saved by youths in their teens. In the stirring years of Abraham Lincoln these boys came forward by the tens of thousands in response to the call to arms.
War expenditures reached $6,000,000,000. During the war, 67,000 were killed in battle. The records also show that 43,012 died of wounds.
Disease claimed 22,486 and 24,872 perished from other causes. There were 280,000 wounded in battle.
Between all these dread disasters. it is a wonder that even a remnant of the Grand Army of the Republic survives; and it should ever be the pride and pleasure of the American republic to remember the debt owed to the boys of ’61.
Happily, all soldiers who have survived “forty years after the close of the war” (to quote the language of the law) are now en-titled to a service pension.-National Tribune.