The study of history is too often restricted to names, dates, and places. Generations of school kids have suffered through lectures akin to the one given in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. History, however, is not just treaties, generals, and presidents. It is the story of individuals who, though the history books have missed them, still led dramatic and adventurous lives.
One of those people who have been brought out of obscurity is Charles Anderson, thanks to the efforts of author of David T. Dixon. In his book The Lost Gettysburg Address, Dixon introduces his readers to the stranger-than-fictional life of Anderson, son of a Revolutionary, and brother to Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame.
Because of Anderson’s storied past, there is something for everyone in this book, from those who want to know how Union sympathizers fared in Confederate states after secession (not well), to the military historian who can look to Anderson’s service at Stones River, commanding the 93rd Ohio Infantry. Wounded at Stones River, Anderson didn’t see further military service, but he did run as lieutenant governor of Ohio, campaigning against the notorious Copperhead Clement Vallandigham, providing fodder for the political historian to examine the war behind the front lines.
The book’s title refers to a fact that many may not know about the ceremonies on Nov. 19, 1863 at Gettysburg. Charles Anderson delivered a third speech at a meeting in Gettysburg, attended by President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward. Though lost to history for almost 150 years, Anderson’s speech at Gettysburg offers a third approach to Gettysburg. Edward Everett, speaking for two hours, eulogized the Federal dead; Lincoln spoke to why they died; Charles Anderson, though, explains Dixon, spoke that “[t]he memorial is over. This is a rally. Let’s go forth and finish the job at hand” (157). Anderson’s speech is reproduced in its entirety in an appendix to the book, and readers are highly encouraged to read it. After speaking for almost an hour, Anderson closed, “Let us, theretofore, my friends, ever honor these our martyred fellow countrymen, above all the dead heroes of other lands and ages and next only to our Fathers of the Revolution, who lived and died to establish that general Liberty, which American Treason in rebellion now strives to slay and which these, their worthy sons here died in arms to defend” (216). These were the words of a man whose own father fought to establish the country, whose brother’s small garrison was the first shot at, and who himself was shot in defense of his country.
Dixon does have a few hiccups in the book, but they do not take away from the overall quality of the work. One example is when Dixon refers to Andrew Curtin as the governor of Kentucky; Curtin was governor of Pennsylvania. There is no bibliography, so looking up sources has to be done by scanning through the endnotes.
Charles Anderson’s speech at Gettysburg was forgotten almost immediately after he gave it, but thanks to David Dixon’s efforts that should no longer be the case.
The Lost Gettysburg Address by David T. Dixon.
B-List History, 2015.
192 pages main text, 242 pages total
Appendix: Charles Anderson’s Gettysburg Address