The duties of a Bailie are varied indeed! One of the most interesting recently was the commemoration of the Scots who died in the American Civil War. The news wrongly reported prior to the event that there were up to 500,000 casualties. I discovered however that this was the number of Scots who took part on both sides (since the total number killed was less than 800,000 it seems unlikely that the vast majority of them were Scots). A truer figure was apparently likely to have been between 100,000 and 200,000 which of course is still a staggering number.
The event itself was excellent drawing attention as it does not only to the involvement of Scots but also to the only War memorial to the fallen in the American Civil War out side the States. And a magnificent memorial it is with its statue of Abraham Lincoln and a crouching slave reaching up.
The event was the first of its kind but it is hoped to make it an annual event.
Here is what I said (if interested) :-
"I am honoured to be here this morning, representing the Lord Provost and City of Edinburgh Council, at this memorial service to commemorate the first Battle of Bull Run on 21 July 1861. This was the first major land battle of the American Civil War during which many Scottish soldiers fought and died.
In particular I would like to welcome Mr Peter Ferrier who is here as a Guest of Honour and is the grandson of an American Civil War Veteran.
Sir, we are delighted that you are able to be with us this morning.
There can be no more fitting location for this service than here at the Lincoln Memorial, thought to be the only American Civil War Memorial outside the USA.
This wonderful statue was erected in 1893 after the widow of a Sgt Major McEwan, who served in the 65th Illinois Voluntary Infantry, approached the American Consul General for financial assistance. Having discovered that Sgt Major McEwan had been buried in a pauper’s grave, the Consul – Mr Wallace Bruce – approached the Edinburgh Corporation for a burial site for Scots who had served in the Civil War.
I am very pleased indeed that the city fathers of the day donated this piece of land so that the American Consul could raise funds to erect this memorial and statue of Abraham Lincoln.
As you can see, the memorial also depicts a freed slave – a most appropriate image in the year when we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery Act here in the UK.
Finally, I would like to thank the Rev Dr Bill Mackie and the One O’Clock Gun Association for putting so much effort into organising this event to commemorate all those, and particularly those from Scotland, who fought and died in the American Civil War.