Private Charles Fletcher Bailey was one of the members of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry who continued to keep the sacrifices of the veterans alive in the Nation's memory through active participation in the Grand Army of the Republic. This veteran's organization is survived today the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, to which the editor of this web site belongs.
A resident of Gilbertsville, Iowa when he enlisted on July 1, 1861, Bailey had been born in Ohio. Although the Official Roster does not cite the reason, on September 15, 1863, Bailey was transferred to the Invalid Corps (later known as the Veteran Reserve Corps).
Following the war, he was active in the GAR, serving as an officer, from June 1899 to June 1900. The following biography from The Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic briefly describes his life:
Commander Bailey then took charge of the meeting and stated that as in the days of old on the battlefield they were accustomed to follow the leaders. Therefore he would ask Chaplain W.W. Gist, of Osage, to lead in prayer. The delegates arose and Chaplain Gist prayed for the guidance of the meeting. "O Lord, our Heavenly Father in Heaven at all times, in all places and under all circumstances we would acknowledge you as our guide. We return unto thee our thanks, our gratitude for the mercy that thou hast bestowed on us. We pray thee to bless the comrades over all the state. Some of them are not here, some are unable to be present on account of ill health and some of them are too poor to be here. Bless those in authority. We pray for the soldier boys in distant islands. Make them strong to resist and overcome temptation. Bless us and guide us through life and may we all join in that great reunion which will take place above."
Following the prayer, the encampment went into secret session during which various reports were presented, the annual address of the department given and the working committees appointed.
Department Commander's Address
C.F. Bailey, the department commander thus addressed his assembled comrades:
To the members of the Twenty-sixth Annual Encampment, Department of Iowa, Grand Army of the Republic.-Comrades: The Twenty-fifth annual encampment having selected and elected me to the very honorable and responsible position of commander, I feel it fitting and proper that I should at this time sincerely thank the members of the G.A.R. for this expression of their confidence in me. I feel that there is no other organization in this great commonwealth of ours that that can confer greater honor upon one of it's members than can be conferred by this encampment by electing one of its' comrades to the very high position of department commander. It has always given me great pleasure to meet with the comrades and participate in their campfires and I shall ever hold a pleasant remembrance on account of the expressions of good feeling which I have received from the comrades at all times. It has been the greatest desire of my heart to do all that I could to make the lives of the "boys" happier by my presence among them.
When I took charge of the office to which I was elected, I found universal harmony and good order prevailing among the members of the different posts of the state: thus showing conclusively that those having charge of the work before me had done their work faithfully. I, therefore, felt it my duty to try to maintain if possible, this same harmonious spirit that I might, at the close of my term, transfer the trust to my successor with the assurance that this same good feeling should still permeate the entire department. In the work of keeping up the same good feeling, I feel that I have succeeded very well.
The differences that have arisen that called for a decision from myself have been so few that they are hardly worthy of mention. You will see by the Judge Advocate's report that but very little business has been transacted in that line. There have been a few cases in which different comrades have disagreed in their several posts, but being aided by my able assistant adjutant general, we at all times have been able to bring about peace and harmony, so that during the year there has been no post disbanded where there have been enough members to constitute a quorum.
Soldiers in Good Condition
In traveling over the state. I have been much pleased to find the old soldier in good condition generally, so far as finance and citizenship. Neither have they been forgotten by the citizens of the state, many of them holding positions of honor in the different counties as well as in the state. I find that the teachings of the different organizations, auxiliary to the G.A.R. have a great strengthening power in the way of advancing and building up the character of the young an the development of noble manhood. I have also been pleased to note that in general, there is a good feeling prevalent among our kindred organizations. All have been doing a grand work in looking after, and administering to the wants of the boys of '61-'65, as also to those of the late Spanish-American soldiers.
Question of Precedence
But, though there has been general harmony, yet some dissatisfaction has arisen between the Woman's Relief Corps and the Ladies of the G.A.R. in regard to which should have precedence at their various gatherings. Here should be no preference, but both organizations should go together at such times, if for no other purpose than to carry out the principles of fraternity, charity and loyalty. I hope that such will be the case in the future. The W.R.C., through its efficient department president has shown itself to be, in reality, the auxiliary to the G.A.R., so far as carrying forward the charitable and social duties of the organization; also in looking after the wants and furnishing the material needed to make it pleasant for the comrades in the soldiers' home at Marshalltown.
We feel under great obligations to the press of the state for the kindness and courtesies which they extended. We are very grateful to the various railroads of the state for the generous treatment received at their hands.
Memorial Day has been universally observed throughout the department with an increased interest. Through these solemn services the youth of our land are being taught lessons of patriotism and loyalty that they will never forget. I would still emphasize the recommendation of past department commanders that all posts and comrades use their influence to interest our schools in the observance of Memorial day, and that the children be urged to take part in the different exercises. The death roll of the past year teaches us that our organization is fast diminishing in numbers, and that the few remaining years of our existence should be improved in trying more earnestly to advance the idea of patriotism among the your, so that when our grand organization shall have passed into history, we shall be remembered on account of the lessons taught by us.
Sons of Veterans
In remembering the Sons of Veterans they having inherited from, the G.A.R. the principles of fraternity, charity and loyalty, let us notice how many of their number took part in the late Spanish-American war. About 47 per cent of the soldiers of the late war were Sons of Veterans. Your department commander was greatly pleased with the goodly number in attendance at the 33rd national encampment at Philadelphia, also the large number in line of march in the parade, and the perfect order that was maintained during the march, these good qualities calling forth great applause from the many thousands of people along the line. The fine appearance of the Iowa Department was especially commented upon by the other departments as well as by the citizens and visitors.
As To Pensions
It seems unnecessary to say anything more than has been said in regard to our pension laws. I notice I the report of the commander preceding me that he states that no government on earth has passed more liberal pension laws than has ours. But I somewhat disagree with him in regard to their liberality. It seems to me that if the boys of '61-'65 examined as they were by physicians and pronounced able-bodied in every respect before enlistment, that there is something wrong in the present as has been in the past, which causes the claims of some of the most worthy to be rejected because they cannot furnish sufficient affidavit to prove that their disabilities were received during their time of service. Dr. R. Luces, Past Chaplain-in-Chief, G.A.R., has written a poem entitled "Rejected." He says, "In the report of the commissioner of pensions for the year we find 107,910 claims have been returned with the word 'Rejected.' When I think of all the sorrow, disappointment and want that this brings upon 100,000 of my comrades and their families, my very soul was stirred within me."
I wish to say that my recommendation would be that this department encampment pass suitable resolutions, requesting, if not demanding that the pension laws be made so, if they are not at the present time, that it will not be necessary for the old soldier to be deprived of his pension because he cannot furnish a sufficient hospital record and an extra proof of his having been an able-bodied man at the time of peril and gave the best of his life for her service: No! Money will not pay for their lives. It seems that our state could scarcely do more than it is doing for us, unless the legislature should, as a body, join with us, the G.A.R., in passing resolutions giving our Representatives in congress, and those in the pension department to understand that we demand that the pension laws be so adjusted that the boys of '61-'65 will get that which actually belongs to them.
We feel proud of what had been done for us by the State appropriation in various ways; the legislature granting the boys in the Home at Marshalltown their full pension, instead of taking part of it from them. In visiting the Home I was glad to learn that there was not the least grumbling or dissatisfaction on account of the management of the Home; the Board of Control having granted all of our requests as requested by the committee appointed to inspect and report in regard to the management of the same. We believe that those in control should be retained as long as they do their duty as well as they have in the past. As the committee appointed will report in regard to the institution, it will not be necessary for me to go into details.
At the close of this encampment my official relations will cease. While I feel glad to be relieved from duty, I can only say I assure you that there will be a felling of loneliness when I realize that our general meetings will be, to a certain extent, limited to yearly gatherings. In thinking over the past year and summing up what has been done and the success of the administration, I can only say that I shall always feel under lasting obligations to the Comrades and especially those who have been closely connected with me in carrying out the order of the administration. Especially do I feel grateful to my able assistant Adjutant General L.M. Black, for the faithful performance of his duties and being always at his post. He never failed to meet the full requirements of his responsible position. In conclusion, I heartily thank each and every Comrade in this department and especially my staff to whom is largely due the credit for the present satisfactory condition of the organization.