Last Saturday at Edgartown marked the beginning of a new paragraph in a chapter of Vineyard history which was begun 30 years ago. At the close of the public exercises, patriotic orders including the G. A. R., W. R. C. and the American Legion met in the town hall for refreshments and friendly discussion.
During this meeting attention was called by Mrs. George Eldridge of the Woman’s Relief Corps of Oak Bluffs to the fact that the Soldiers’ Monument at Oak Bluffs was acquired and presented to the Henry Clay Wade Post by a Confederate soldier. Few young people know this or that this soldier is still living, and in his presentation speech 30 years ago he stated that it was his hope that “the day might soon come when the name of a Confederate soldier might be placed on a face of the monument which he had left blank for that purpose.”
The donor, Charles Strahan, who was a lieutenant in the regular army of the Confederacy during the Civil War, was at that time the editor of the Martha’s Vineyard Herald. Being a close friend of Henry W. Coye, Post Commander of the G. A. R. in Oak Bluffs, the two held many consultations on the best methods of bringing about a feeling of good will between the people of the north and south. Lecturers had been sent south to carry a message of friendship, but at that time there was no southerner located in this section other than Mr. Strahan.
It seemed to him, therefore, to be his duty to do whatever lay in his power toward cementing the breach the war had made in the relations of the two sections of the country, and which still refused to heal. Through his paper he gave notice that all money received for subscriptions would be devoted to erecting a soldiers’ monument, to be presented to the Henry Clay Wade Post.
The response was overwhelming, and in August, 189[1], Mr. Strahan’s five year old daughter unveiled the noble monument which stands in the public square at Oak Bluffs today. Mr. Strahan, himself, gave an address which merits a place in our country’s history.
Such was the story of the monument as told by Mrs. Eldridge last Saturday, and at its close, when the question was put as to whether the name of a Confederate soldier should be placed on the shaft, the vote was unanimously in favor of its being done. A committee is to be appointed to attend to this work, and there is little doubt but that the name of Liet. Charles Strahan, C. S. A., will be placed on the monument in the near future, if the proud old gentleman will given his consent.

Address at Dedication of the Monument

Below is printed the address made by Lieut. Charles Strahan at the dedication of the monument 30 years ago:
“I bring to you today a message of peace and fraternity, a message in bronze that speaks more eloquently than words. Mark where he stands, the embodiment of patriotism, his arms at rest - emblem of peace, the symbol if the Grand Army of the Republic. Not the star decorated general, whose genius could marshal 100,000 men and lead them to victory, not the sea-bronzed admiral of a navy, the peer of Nelson on the sea - but the private soldier and sailor through whose patriotism, through whose sturdy endurance of the sufferings and trials incident to war, it was made possible to preserve this union, a holy heritage to use and our children forever.
“That this comes from one who wore the gray will, I trust, add significance to the fact that we are once more a Union of Americans, a union which endows with equal honors the citizens of Georgia with the citizens of Maine; that Massachusetts and South Carolina are again brothers; that there is no north, no south, no east nor west, but one undivided, indivisible Union. As your father and my father stood shoulder to shoulder at Valley-Forge and Yorktown, and stood by their guns on the deck of the Constitution and Chesapeake, so the sons of the gray will stand with the sons of the blue, should any foe, domestic or foreign, dare attack that flag.”

Liet. Strahan, C. S. A.

Lieut. Charles Strahan, who obtained the Soldiers’ Monument for Henry Clay Wade Post of the G. A. R., Oak Bluffs, enjoys the distinction of being the first Confederate officer to address a Grand Army delegation.
A southerner to the backbone is Lieut. Strahan, who bears the scars of Yankee bullets to this day, yet is filled with a great love for his country and a deep and sincere desire to promote good feeling and friendliness between north and the south.
His military career began with his enlistment in Co. B. of the Maryland Guards at Richmond, Va. This unit was at that time attached to the 21st Virginia Infantry. In October of the same year, 1862, after recovering from a slight wound, he was assigned to the Q. M. Dept. under Capt. Kensey Johns. The following May he received his commission as lieutenant of the regular army and was appointed aide de camp to Gen. Isaac Trimble.
After the battle of Gettysburg he was transferred to the Bureau of Conscription under Gen. John S. Preston. Lieut. Strahan still has the muster rolls and descriptive lists of his old outfit in his possession and fingers them lovingly as he talks of the days gone by, although his life since the war of the Blue and the Gray has been far removed from things military.
For a time after the war he was a member of the firm of Levering, Strahan & Co., coffee importers of New Orleans. Forced to retire from business because of ill health he came to the Vineyard in 1884 and shortly after established the Martha’s Vineyard Herald of which he was editor for many years.
Today, at 86 years of age, Lieut. Strahan is apparently as vigorous as many men of 50. Quick of movement, erect of carriage and with his closely trimmed beard and mustache as white as snow, he is every inch the retired army officer and it is not strange that acquaintances call him “Colonel”. “Don’t put it down that way in the paper, though.” he warned the reporter. “I went through most of the war as a private, and was always proud of it.”