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Full text of "A biographical sketch of the late Hon. Edmund Lovell Dana, president of the Osterhout Free Library, Wilkes-Barre, Pa."

ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY 



3 1833 01291 6943 GENEALOGY 

929.2 
D193RE 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 



OF THE LATE 



HON. EDMUND LOVELL DANA, 



lESIDENT OF THE 



OSTERHOUT FREE LIBRARY. 



WILKES-BARRE, PA. 



By SHELDON REYNOLDS, A. M. 



SECRETARY. 



PREPARED A T THE REQUEST OF, AND READ BEFORE THE DIRECTORS 

OF THE LIBRARY, JULY 2b, iSSg, AND BEFORE THE WYOMING HIS- 

TOPICAL AND GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, SEPTEMBER 13th, iS8g. 



Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 
i88q. 



Alten County Public Library 
900 vVcbster Street 
^"^'0 Box 2270 



R. BAUR A SON, 
WILKES-BARRE, PA. 



EDMUND LOVELL DANA. 



Judge Edmund L. Dana, late president of the Osterhout 
Free Library, died at his residence in this city, Thursday 
evening, April 25, 1889, in the 73d year of his age. 

He was a descendant in the fifth generation of Jacob 
Dana, Cambridge, Mass., 1640. One branch of the family 
removed to Wyoming prior to the year 1772, and became 
prominent in the affairs of the settlement and in the strug- 
gles that ensued to hold possession of the territory under 
the claim of the Susquehanna Company, as well as in de- 
fence of this outpost against the attacks of the public enemy. 
Anderson Dana, the great grandfather of the subject of this 
sketch, a lawyer by profession, was one of the representa- 
tives of Westmoreland county, or Wyoming, in the Assem- 
bly of Connecticut, and in many ways proved himself a 
useful and valuable member of the community. Returning 
to his home from the Assembly on the eve of the Battle of 
Wyoming, he, together with other members of his family, 
took part in that engagement, and was slain in battle July 
3d, 1778. 

Judge Dana was the son of Asa Stevens Dana, and was 
born in this city January 29, 18 17. After a preparatory 
course of study of three years at the Wilkes-Barre Acad- 
emy, he entered the sophomore class of Yale College and 
was graduated A. B. from that institution in due course, in 
the year 1838, and subsequently received the degree of A. M. 
Upon leaving college he found employment as civil engineer 
in the work of the survey and building of the North Branch 
Canal, extending from Pittston to the New York State line. 
After one year spent in this occupation he entered as a law 
student the office of Hon. Luther Kidder, and on April 6thj 



4 EDMUND LOVELL DANA. 

1 84 1, having; completed the prescribed course of study, 
was admitted to the bar of Luzerne county. 

At the time of the breaking out of hostiHties be- 
tween the United States and Mexico, he was the captain of 
the Wyoming Artillerists, a military organization formed a 
few years prior to that event, and in response to the gov- 
ernment's call for troops he offered the services of his 
company. They were accepted, and attached to the infantry 
branch of the service the company was mustered as Co. I, 
First Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. Under the com- 
mand of Capt. Dana, the company numbering 124 men set 
out for Pittsburg, the rendezvous, and arriving there was, 
on the 1 6th December, 1846, sworn into the service of the 
United States, and proceeded by the way of New Orleans 
to the seat of war. They there joined the army under 
Gen. Scott and participated in many of the battles and 
sieges incident to that masterly advance from Vera Cruz to 
the City of Mexico, the brilliant conception and successful 
issue of which reflected alike the military genius of Scott, 
and the mettle, discipline, and courage of the troops under 
his command. 

Capt. Dana, with his company, was with the army at the 
debarkation at Vera Cruz, an undertaking made memorable 
by reason of the unrivaled skill with which nearly 12,000 
men, fully armed and equipped, within the space of seven 
hours, effected a landing in open boats upon a shore unpro- 
tected from the sweep of the surf and in the face of the 
enemy, without the loss of a single life or other casualty. 
He was engaged in the siege of Vera Cruz immediately 
following the debarkation, and saw the surrender of that 
city together with its famous stronghold, the Castle of San 
Juan d'Ulloa. He took part also in the decisive battle of 
Cerro Gordo, and in the capture of Perote Castle and the 
cities of Jalapa and Pueblo, and the Pass of El Pinal. 

After the arduous and brilliant series of operations, 
occupying but a few months in their execution, had 



EDMUND LOVELL DANA. 5 

brought within the army's grasp that grand objective point 
toward which these historic places served as stepping 
stones, he had the satisfaction of witnessing the fall of the 
City of Mexico and the happy termination of the war. 

There are several incidents in his Mexican service 
worthy of remark as showing in a more especial manner 
the merit of the man and its recognition by his superiors 
in rank. Upon his arrival in one of the advance transports 
at the island of Lobos, which had been selected as a ren- 
dezvous for the troops proceeding to Vera Cruz, he was 
detailed to the important work of the survey of its harbor, 
a work of great responsibility and requiring accurate 
knowledge of a special nature. He proved himself well 
fitted by education and experience for this duty by the 
prompt and efficient manner in which he performed it. 

In the charge up the steep and broken approaches of 
El Pinal Pass he commanded the assaulting column, and 
was among the first to cross over the defensive works of 
the enemy. 

In the defense of Pueblo during the thirty days' siege 
of that city by the Mexican forces under Generals Rea and 
Santa Ana, Col. Childs, the commandant, says in his official 
report in reference to the behavior of the garrison which 
included Capt. Dana's company: "Never did troops endure 
more fatigue nor exhibit more patriotic spirit and gallantry. 
Officers and soldiers vied with each other to be honored 
martyrs in their country's cause." In addition to this 
commendation of the official report, Capt. Dana received 
special mention in general orders for efficiency and soldierly 
bearing during this investment. 

After the declaration of peace with Mexico he returned 
to VVilkes-Barre and resumed the practice of law. His 
taste for military affairs led him to continue his connection 
with the militia of the State, and notwithstanding the cares 
of his growing practice at the bar he was able to devote 
much attention to the management of these organizations. 



6 EDMUND LOVELL DANA. 

In recognition of his efforts in this behalf he was promoted 
to the rank of major general of the Ninth Division Penn- 
sylvania militia, which office he held at the beginning of 
the late war. In 1862 Gov. Curtin appointed him com- 
mandant of Camp Luzerne, a camp of organizatibn and 
instruction situated in the neighborhood of Luzerne Bor- 
ough, where most of the men recruited in this vicinity- 
were mustered into service and organized as the 143d 
Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and of which regiment 
he was elected colonel, October iSth, 1862. In the follow- 
ing month the regiment broke camp and proceeded to the 
front where it was attached to the 2d Brigade, 3d Division 
of the First Army Corps under command of Gen. John F. 
Reynolds. 

The more important events of the war in which Col. 
Dana and his regiment participated were the battles of 
Chancellorsville, May 2d, 3d and 4th, 1863; Gettysburg, 
July I st, 2d and 3d, 1863; the Wilderness, May 5, 1864; the 
first battle of Hatcher's Run, 28th and 29th October, 1864; 
the Weldon Raid, Dec. 7th to 12th, 1864 ; the second bat- 
tle of Hatcher's Run, 6th and 7th Feb., 1865. 

At Gettysburg the command of the 2d Brigade, 3d Div- 
ision, 1st Corps, devolved upon Col. Dana, and the brigade 
was engaged throughout the three days' battle. General 
Doubleday, of the U. S. Army, in a recent letter addressed 
to the president of the association of 143d Pa. Vols., refers 
to Col Dana and his command in these words: " Had I 
known at the time the division was formed that Col. Dana 
had already had some military experience in Mexico I 
should have assigned him to the command of a brigade, 
but I did not learn this fact until after the battle of Gettys- 
burg. What the regiment accomplished on that ever-to-be- 
remembered 1st day of July, 1863, has probably never been 
excelled in the annals of our long and sanguinary struggle 
for the supremacy of the Union and the Constitution. 
Holding a central point in my line, assailed by overwhelm- 



EDMUND LOVELL DANA. "J 

ing forces from the North and West, they maintained their 
position from 1 1 a. m. to 4 p. m. against triple their number 
of the best troops of the Confederacy." The historian of 
the Pennsylvania Volunteers, in describing this san- 
guinary engagement, says : " Col. Dana throughout the 
severe and protracted contest moved on foot through the 
fire along the line wherever his presence was required. 
When all hope of longer holding the ground was gone 
the brigade fell back through the town and took a position 
on Cemetery Hill where the shattered ranks of the two 
corps which had been engaged were reformed." — (Bates 
Hist. Pa. Vols., vol. IV, p. 488.) 

At the battle of the Wilderness, Col. Dana received a 
gunshot wound and was taken prisoner ; thence he was 
sent as prisoner of war to Macon, Ga., and afterward to 
Charleston, S. C, where he, together with a number of 
other officers, was exposed to the fire of the Federal forces 
besieging that city as a measure of retaliation adopted by 
the Confederate authorities. Aug. 3, 1864, his exchange 
was effected, and rejoining his regiment then in front of 
Petersburg he took part in the actions and operations that 
followed the investment of that city. 

In one of these actions wherein the advance of the out- 
posts, picket, and skirmish line of the 5th Corps was com- 
mitted to his command, Gen. Baxter, commanding the 5th 
Division, expressed to him in an official letter his satisfac- 
tion with the manner in which he had acquitted himself of 
the task, saying : " Your duties were important, arduous 
and of a highly responsible character, all of which you 
performed with credit to yourself and the command." 

Early in 1865 Col. Dana's regiment much reduced in 
strength by hard service was assigned to special duty in 
Baltimore, and later at Hart's Island, where it remained 
until the close of the war. Col. Dana was detailed to 
court-martial duty during several months after the cessation 
of hostilities, and was honorably mustered out of the scr- 



8 EDMUND LOVELL DANA. 

vice Aug. 23d, 1865, with the rank of brevet brigadier gen- 
eral conferred for honorable and meritorious service. 

Upon his return home after an absence of three years 
he again applied himself to the practice of law, and contin- 
ued his professional duties until his election to the bench 
in 1867. At the first election under the statute granting to 
this judicial district an additional law judge he was chosen 
to that honorable place, the duties of which he discharged 
during the full term of ten years. Prior to the expiration 
of his term of office the Democratic convention nominated 
him for the second time as additional law judge, and the 
Republican convention expressed its assent to his candidacy 
in the following words : " This convention having entire 
confidence in the learning, integrity, and ability of Edmund 
L. Dana as illustrated by his administration of the office 
of additional law judge of this district in the past ten 
years, cordially recommends him to the voters of Luzerne 
county for re-election." The action of the conventions of 
the two political parties and the almost unanimous com- 
mendation of the bar seemed to assure his continuance in 
the position for another term. In that year, however, the 
Labor-Greenback party, being a combination of two parties 
as its name indicates, gathering within its ranks the discon- 
tented of all parties, was enabled, by means of a most 
efficient organization and a canvass stimulated by the 
grievances growing out of the widespread riots and disorder 
of that time, to elect all of its candidates in opposition to 
those of the two older parties. 

At the age of 61 he retired from the bench and found 
relaxation from the cares of office and a busy life among 
his books, indulging a highly cultivated taste for literature 
and art in the study and contemplation of these subjects ; 
though the calls upon his time and attention arising from 
business relations and public duty were not suffered to pass 
unobserved. During this period he served several years as 
a member of the city council of Wilkes-Barre, a part of the 



EDMUND LOVELL DANA. 9 

time as president of that body ; also as a director of the 
First National Bank ; vice president of the Wyoming Mem- 
orial Association ; president of the Wyoming Historical 
and Geological Society, of which institution he was one of 
the founders and its first president ; president of the Society 
of the Army of the Potomac ; and president of the Oster- 
liout Free Library. 

Although he had passed the limit of three score years 
and ten, his vigorous constitution and apparent sound 
health gave promise of man)^ more honorable and useful 
years ; but the exposure of camp life and the stress of 
many campaigns, together with a serious nervous shock 
received in a railroad accident a few years prior to his 
death, were probably the active though remote causes that 
defeated that promise. 

From a consideration of the facts in the life of Gen. 
Dana one becomes impressed with the singular range of 
vicissitude and experience that fell to his lot, as well as with 
the versatility of his gifts and the mental equipment that 
enabled him creditably to fulfill all of its requirements 
and attain a high degree of excellence in callings and 
pursuits so diversified in their nature and character. 

Having the tastes and habits of a scholar and bred 
to a liberal profession, he experienced the highest 
gratification in the pursuits of knowledge. The study of 
the classics of the several languages, of mathematics, 
music, and art, occupied much of his time that was not 
given to the more practical concerns of his profession. He 
was known as a man of letters, of deep and sound learning. 
Endowed with these happy conditions, he nevertheless 
gave them up on two occasions for terms of years 
to follow a calling seemingly as foreign to his nature as it 
was different from his usual avocations, and chose rather a 
life full of privation and danger, but which presented a new 
and wider field of activity and usefulness. The phase of 
his character indicated b}' such a preference can he under- 



lO EDMUND LOVELL DANA. 

stood only in the light of a rare patriotism which found 
expression in actions that cost him great personal sacrifice. 
It is not an easy task to judge of the qualities of a 
soldier from the quiet manner of the scholar or from the 
kindly intercourse of a friend, an estimate of the character 
in such a case must be sought for, not from the man 
himself, but from what he has done. His military 
record shows that he possessed a high courage, uniting 
personal bravery with an intelligent appreciation of danger, 
and that his energy, resolution, and cool judgment in the 
face of the enemy inspired confidence in officers and men 
alike, and marked him as an able and accomplished officer. 
In this relation he exhibited those moral qualities that have 
served to raise the trade of war from brutal contests to an 
art that does much to preserve peace among nations, and 
made the calling of arms more humane and honorable. 
During two great wars he served the cause of his country 
faithfully and well ; his name will remain honorably asso- 
ciated with many of the eventful struggles that have shed 
renown on the American arms and brought honor to the 
nation. 

In the profession of law he stood in the first rank. A 
close and intelligent student, conscientious and painstaking 
in all business committed to his care he made the cause of 
the client his own. Notwithstanding the several interrup- 
tions in his professional calling arising from the causes 
before mentioned, he acquired a large and important prac- 
tice at the bar and gained a measure of success that attested 
to his ability as an advocate and counselor. 

Able as he was as a lawyer, the judicial qualities of his 
mind together with his broad learning and scholarly at- 
tainments made him better fitted for a judge than an advo- 
cate. To him the law in its theory was an exact science; 
from given premises logical conclusions would follow; the 
justice of a proposition could be ascertained by the abstract 
rules of law. The law of evidence, perhaps the most logical 



EDMUND LOVELL DANA. I I 

branch of the science, was a congenial study, and in the 
ready application of its principles was recognized the 
justice of his rulings. Judge Rice has summed up his 
record in this connection in such apt phrase that I take 
the liberty of quoting his words : " He had real respect 
for the law, and faithful to his oath sought to administer it 
fairly and not to his own personal will. He was just and 
impartial, and no suitor could ever come before him with 
the hope of winning his case through favor, or the fear of 
losing it through partiality or inattention. He was a sens- 
itive man in the best meaning of that term and I presume 
did not disdain the approval of his fellow men ; but fears 
of popular clamor, or misconception of his motives, or of 
the wisdom of his course, did not warp his judgment. 
With modesty, yet becoming dignity, with conscientious 
fidelity, with industry and real learning, with a high sense 
of his responsibility, he administered the duties of his 
office wisely, uprightly and justly. He left a record without 
a stain, a record of distinguished, able and faithful service 
that will insure the lasting preservation of his memory in 
the respect and gratitude of the people whom he served." 

As a man whom we were accustomed to meet in the 
daily walks of life, he was a genial and agreeable compan- 
ion and friend ; his cultured tastes and great fund of knowl- 
edge, his rare conversational gifts and kindly consideration 
for the opinions of others were some of the qualities of 
mind and heart that cemented many lasting friendships. 

Among the men in this community who have in the 
past gained eminence in political life, in the several learned 
professions, in industrial and business enterprises, few if 
any may be said to have attained a larger measure of suc- 
cess or rendered more valuable and lasting services to his 
fellow man.