History was both made and acknowledged on Saturday (June 9) in Lakeside Cemetery at Colon as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), March to the Sea Camp # 135 conducted a ‘plaque dedication ceremony’ at the grave of Corporal Wesley West, the last Civil War soldier of St. Joseph County.
Corporal West died on August 6, 1942 at the age of 94. During his service in the Civil War, he was under hostile fire 18 times and was wounded in the hip at the Battle of Nashville. His father’s life was lost at the Battle of Shiloh, but Wesley and his older brother, Lawrence, survived their service in the Civil War. Wesley was discharged with the rank of corporal on December 14, 1865 and returned to St. Joseph County, eventually settling in Colon. He was active in his community and church and was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Bruce Gosling, Commander of March to the Sea Camp # 135, welcomed those on hand for the ceremony including many members of the West family. (Bruce Gosling audio clip – :15)
Saturday’s proceedings included remarks by two state lawmakers who represent St. Joseph County – Senator Bruce Caswell and Representative Matt Lori, the presentation of a floral gift by Mary Decker, a great granddaughter of Wesley West, and the unveiling and dedication of the plaque noting West’s distinction of being the last Civil War soldier from St. Joseph County.
Descendents of Wesley West gathered for a group photo at the gravesite following the ceremony.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is a fraternal patriotic and educational organization of male descendents of Civil War veterans who are dedicated to the preservation of the memory of those who sacrificed so much in order to preserve the Union. The SUVCW was founded on November 12, 1881 and was later chartered by act of Congress as a patriotic education society. Its missions include honoring Union veterans, preserving and perpetuating the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and providing patriotic education.
To view the printed program for the dedication ceremony, click here.
To hear the remarks by state Senator Bruce Caswell and Representative Matt Lori, click on the following link: Bruce Caswell and Matt Lori remarks (3:50 – 3.51 MB).