This week’s past encounter with a gentleman who witnessed the 1929 national United Confederate Veterans reunion has prompted me dig a little deeper into the reunion itself. I went by the library today and copied several pages from Volume 37 of Confederate Veteran Magazine.
There was an estimated attendance of 3,500 veterans at the reunion, with 20,000 more guests. The event started on Tuesday evening, June 4. The "Marine Band" [Corps?] played that evening, along with the "reunion chorus, made up of local men and women..." The veterans were welcomed by Mayor George E. Wilson, and Gov. O. Max Gardner. Gardner praised "this remnant of the bravest army of the America continent and the most patriotic citizens that ever dared venture their lives and all for principles they held dear." Mississippi senator Pat Harrison also welcomed the veterans and gave a talk on Jefferson Davis.
Business began on Wednesday morning. Former Arkansas governor Charles H. Reid gave a short address, along with former mayor F. M. Reid, current Mayor Wilson, C. O. Kuester, of the Chamber of Commerce, Gen. W. A. Smith, commander of the North Carolina Division, Mrs. A. McD. Wilson, president of the Confederate Memorial Association, Mrs. W. C. N. Merchant, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Edmond R. Wiles, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A series of resolutions were passed that afternoon, including an effort to purchase Stratford, the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee.
On Thursday afternoon, new officers were elected. The commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Richard A. Sneed, was elected commander-in-chief. The group then voted to hold their next reunion in Biloxi, Mississippi.
On June 7, the parade took place. The unnamed correspondent wrote:
"Passing through solid walls of humanity, perhaps the largest crowd ever assembled on the streets of Charlotte, the Confederate parade, climax of the thirty-ninth annual reunion of Confederate veterans, moved to the sound of enthusiastic cheers and wild applause on the morning of June 7, a line of march said to cover five miles, taking some two hours in passing a given point. Three wars were represented in the veteran soldiery taking part - the War between the States, the Spanish-American, and the World War - while the soldiers of the present were represented by the National Guard of North Carolina and other military units from schools and colleges - all making a grand array. The Boy Scouts were in line in great force, and made a great impression. There were miles of cars, loaded with veterans of the gray and their fair official ladies, a colorful note with flags and other decorations. In the lead was the Marine Band sounding patriotic airs, and many others were interspersed throughout the line, whose martial strains were heard above the cheers of the multitude of onlookers. There were Sons of Veterans, Daughters of the Confederacy, the Memorial Women, and members of local patriotic associations, all adding a note to the wonderful pageant moving through the streets of Charlotte, the like of which may never be seen again.
"After leading the parade, the new and retiring Commanders in Chief, the governor of North Carolina, and other notables of the reunion, with their wives and official ladies, stood at attention in the reviewing stand as this pageant moved past, a wonderful spectacle, ‘showing,’ as Governor Gardner expressed it, ‘to us of the present generation the glory and greatness of the Old South in the veterans and the splendid future of the new in the Boy Scouts."
"Of the veterans of the gray line, the Charlotte Observer said: ‘They did not feel the weight of the years nor the heat of the day; all their hearts were in the wave of emotion that swept over them and connected the memories of the past with the glorious reality of the day. The parade was more than a line of march; it was a pageant of the South, containing visible expressions of the best that the country has to offer. The bravest of the manhood of the South and the fairest of Southern womanhood were there, glamorous with the emotion that can come only from a deep feeling of patriotism and love."