On March 25, 2018 brigade participants from various companies combined with the U.S. Grant Camp #68, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in ceremony titled Sherman Day, at the Gen William T. Sherman grave site in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.
Typically hosted in late February, this year’s Sherman Day was rescheduled for early March. The festivities included a parade that began at the main gate and ended at the gravesites of the Sherman family. A special address on the life of Gen. Sherman was given by the Grant Camp Commander, Bob Amsler. The ceremony closed out with a military salute.
This annual ceremony recreates, in part, the funeral procession of Gen. William Sherman. It was on February 21, 1891, that 12,000 soldiers greeted the train at Union Depot bearing Sherman’s body from New York. The procession began with a volley of shots, then the casket was placed on an artillery caisson. Pulled by four black horses, the caisson lead the way from the depot to the final resting place of the Sherman family plot in Calvary Cemetery. Their melancholy, seven-mile journey took over four hours to complete.
St. Louis had a special respect and affection for Gen. Sherman and his family. Sherman and his young wife, Ellen, moved to St. Louis while he was still a Captain in 1850 and lived at the intersection of Tucker Boulevard and Chouteau Avenue. Eleven years later, they returned to the city while Sherman worked for a streetcar company. They had only been in residence two weeks when Fort Sumter was attacked. After the war, they once again returned to St. Louis. Residents were so enthusiastic to have General Sherman and his wife in the city once again that they raised over $30,000 to purchase and furnish a dwelling that they felt suited the now famous General. The two-story house was located at 912 North Garrison Avenue and was torn down in 1974. It was from their Garrison Avenue home that the now famous telegram was written, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.” This was Sherman’s response to the 1884 Republican push for Sherman to perform as presidential nominee. While the Sherman family eventually moved to New York, they retained the home on Garrison Avenue throughout their remaining years.
In 1888, Ellen died in New York and was returned to St. Louis to be laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery in the Sherman family plot. On February 14, 1891, Sherman passed away in New York, as well. His remains were sent to St. Louis on the executive train provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad, to be reunited with his wife in her final resting place. It was Sherman’s own son, the Jesuit Rev. Thomas Sherman, who performed the graveside ceremony. At the completion, an honor guard fired three shots, followed by a blast of artillery from a distant hill.