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Fast Fading Away

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The Grand Army is dying at the rate of ahundredaday. Every 15 minutes of the 24 houra the final taps sound for soine one who wore the blue. Each year puts nnder the sod more old soldiera than there ave enlisted men aud oflicers in the entire United States Army. Time is carrying tliein taster in the nineties than bullets did in the sixties. The war lasted four years to a month. In those four years 84,000 men feil in battle on the Union side. But now between 35,000 aud 40,000 die in the course of nature each succeeding 12 months. And for every three Union veterans who go to fame's eternal camping ground, two Confederates are numbered with the dead. A dainty sight on Pennsylvania avenue is the little cortege or hearse, with flagdraped casket inside, and two or three carriages, through the windows of which can be seen the comrades in colored hats, blue blouses and brass buttons. It is an old soldier's funeral. The veterans will claim a place in the inaugural column. That part of the great line will be pathetic. It will be shorter than in previous inaugural processions. They who compose it will be grizzled. Some of them will limp. There will be manifest effort in keeping step. IIEADS WILL DROP FORWARD, In spite of the training of 30 odd years ago. The Grand Anny is fast becoming a relie, a most honorable relie. How rnany of the rising generation know that at one time there stood under arms, arrayed for the defence of the Union, 1,000,516 men, the greatest army ever mustered by any nation since the world began ? This was only half of the number that, between May, 1861, and May, 1865, enlisted ander the Stars nnd Stripes. Strange as it may seeni, the Government cannot teil how many individual soldiers responded to the various calis. The records of the department show there were, for the civil war 2,850,132 enlistments. But many men enlisted twice and some even served three tenns. The best authority oa the statistics of the war is not in Government service at all. He is John McElroy, the editor of the National Tribune, a paper published in the iutere3ts of the old soldiers. Mr. McElroy has made a liletime study of these things. "From a careful examination of gach statistics as the records furnish," said Mr. McElroy, "I have reached the conclusión that 2,000,000 men enlisted and served in the Union army. THE GOVERNMENT CAN TELL. How rnauy enlistments were made, but not how mauy men made the enlistments. I am satisfied that the number was 2,000,000." "Have you any idea hovv many are still living?" "Yes. I place the number of survivjng Union soldiers at between 850,000 and 900,000." More than half of the Grand Army has passed away. The rest are going a t the rate of nearly 40,000 a year, and the rate is increasing. Mr. McElroy has other figures that are not less interesting. He has taken the mortuary tables of life insurance, and he has found to bis satisfaction the average age of the living veteran. Aud here coinés in a curious condition. The survivor of the war has two ages. Oue is the actual number of years he has lived. The other is the actual age and the number of years service in 1861-65 addeil. It is called the constructive age. The Union soldier was a younger man than people oí the present time man think. The average age of the 2,000,000 men who took the oath and were mustered was only 25. The average time of service was two years. At the close of the war the average Union soldier was 27. There have passed since then 31 years. The AVERAGE AGE OF THE 8UKVIV0K to-day is 58. But the actuary of life insurance who deals in the philosophy of human risks will teil you that the man who enlisted lived faster than the man who remained at home. The physical strain of marcliing and flghting added years to those that he had counted since birth. How many? Some years ago Green B. Raum, the CommisBiouer oL Pensions, after much study, concluded that the returning soldier had shortened his natural Ufe 12 years. He would countthe men of 27 to be 39 at the close of the war. Mr.McElroy says this is too inuch. "General Raum," he explained, "had to do with the maimed and the diseased veterans. As Commissioner of Pensions he was brought into contract with those who had suffered most severely from the wearing effects of the life in the army. I have seen the other side. I have mixed much with the veterans at reunions. I have seen the vigorous. Perhaps I eir in the direction opposite frorn General Kaum. I estímate that the service added five years to the average age of the soldier. The army experience SHORTENED LIFE BY THAT AMOUNT." Five years added to the average age makes 65. That represents the age of the 850,000 survi vors of the Grand Army . That tells the story of probr.ble longevity. From this time the Grand Anny will dwindle rapidly. Tlie debt of nature must be paid. It is time to write of the passing of the old soldier. The President elect was only a Major. The days of Generáis have gone by. Half of his Cabinet will be men who were uot in the arrny. Pension legislation has ceased to be an issue. The nation has uot used apotheeary scales to weigh its generosity toward the defenders, but the pension appropriation is decreasing yearly. There are 700,000 names on the pension roll. Last year 29,693 names were dropped for death. In the law for appointments to places in the meuts is a provisión giymg oíd soldiers certain advantages. It is a dead letter. The old soldier vote is a conderation in politics, but it is growing less. Four years froin now will see a smaller array of veterans in the inaugural procession. The hair will be whiter. The steps will totter more frequently. The heads will drop a little lower. Perhaps the next time the Old Guard will escort from the Capítol to the White House a man who never smelled powder. The Ann Arbor Courier.


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Ann Arbor Courier