Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

125th Anniversary Battle Flag Day Event Report

Sept. 17, 1879, 11:00am
Sept. 17, 2004, 11:00am
The State Capitol, Hartford, Connecticut

Dear Friends,

I would like to post you a few words on the events of the past day that you may not see in the local papers. As you are aware, there was an act of the state legislature that mandated the moving of all the state battle flags of the recent rebellion from the state arsenal, where they have been stored since the muster out of each regiment, to the new state capitol building, and into a wing called the Hall of Flags, where they will permanently reside.

The new state capitol building, recently being completed, has not had a formal dedication. This Battle-Flag Day is the de facto dedication of a building that will stand for eternal time.

All of the Connecticut regiments formed at exact locations across Bushnell Park, on the east side hill of the capitol. There, in the middle of the park is a structure called the Corning Fountain. It represents the many Indian tribes that made up the locales of the state, and their contribution to the settlement of our commonwealth.

There were many military organizations that formed at the fountain early this morning, including the 1st Company, Governors Foot Guard, 1st Company, Governors Horse Guard, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. These were accompanied by several state dignitaries, including Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan, Speaker of the House Moira Lyons, and other state officials, including Jerry Caughman, curator of flags, and Dean Nelson, curator of the State Library. Sponsoring the event were Douglas R. Niermeyer, MOLLUS Commander-in-Chief, Stephen A. Michaels, SUVCW Commander-in-Chief, Robert W. Storm, MOLLUS Commander, Department of Connecticut, Lee Tryon, MOLLUS Recorder, Department of Connecticut, and our own Don Reid, SUVCW Post Commander.

We were formed into a procession, lead by the Connecticut National Guard, and proceeded from the Corning Fountain to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, commonly known as the Bushnell Park Arch. A short ceremony occurred there, ending in a wreath laying, and the procession marched on, up across the park, towards the east capitol steps. All the colors came into line there, and the state dignitaries addressed the crowd formed upon the activities of the day, the activities of 125 years ago, and how they were all just the same.

The procession was called to attention once again, and marched to the north end of the capitol building, and to a monument to the brave men who lived and died at Andersonville, Ga. The Civil War colors were advanced in line ,and Lt. Paul Parvis addressed the body with the history and the pathos of the boy portrayed in the statue, Charley. The hard luck story of the 16th Conn. Vols. was reviewed, and the shear determination and will of the entire rank and file to keep their colors away from the enemy was told. The heroes result is the assemblage of a multitude of scraps of the flag, borne through the prisons, and brought back home, sewn onto a white silk background, and returned in honor to the state arsenal.

With a wipe of the tears, the procession got underway once more, and approached the State Capitol by the front portico. The entire procession entered directly, and turned to the left, and entered the three story gallery adjacent to the central dome.

In that place, the dignitaries and honored guests were seated in rows of chairs. Before the events turned to the past, there were several noted certificates of appreciation, to the Connecticut League of Women Voters, and to Mrs. Gerry Caughman, for there perennial dedication and efforts to preserve and protect the history of our honored flags.

MOLLUS was the host, and Lee Tryon, who read the exact words of General Halley spoken there so long ago about the honor of the colors and the dedication of those who carried them. Next was our Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan, who read the exact words that then Governor of Connecticut Charles B. Andrews expressed that day, accepting the colors. It was sublime.

Once all the talking was done, the colors were order to be retired. First, the active National Guard retired, then, the Foot Guard, then the Horse Guard, from the right of the podium. The 8CV and the 14CV were on the left of the podium. Then the order came from Lt. Parvis, "Nutmeg Battalion, Right Face." The colors and escorts of the 8CV and the 14CV were to march their colors into the Hall of Flags. We promptly faced, and the "Forward, March" followed. We entered over the threshold of history, and joined the ranks of the patriots. Lt. Parvis ordered "Front." The flags were never held so erect and exact as at that single moment. Here we were in the Hall of Flags, open on the one end to the three story gallery where all were watching, and it was only us, in the Hall of Flags, surrounded on the other three sides, by the original glass cases, where, 125 years ago, on this day, the veterans, marched their colors in, furled them, and put them in their permanent glass cases. We were standing right in front of the Eighth Conn Vols original colors.

The order came from Lt. Parvis, "By file, from right to left, furl your colors." One by one, our honored flags were dipped, the guard catching the fly, each bearer rolled the silks about the staffs, brought it to attention once more, then the next color was rolled, and the next, and the next. The four flags of the Eighth and the Fourteenth stood on the brink, that precious moment when the old boys committed their treasures to the eternal protection of the state. 125 years ago, the next event was the presentation of those stands to the state. It was a hand off that signified a monumentous event and change of guard. Lt. Parvis next simply ordered, "Break Ranks, March."

It moved my soul, since I knew that such an order meant leaving your honored charge, that so many had died to keep in our hands, over to the state that had sent them forth, and thus, relieve us as the protector. I felt a lot like a retired soldier at that time, as I would surely follow those colors anywhere, anytime, with any breathe in my body. But that day was the day that told the boys, you have served with honor, we recognize your sacrifice, and we will now relieve you, and continue the protection of your colors forever.

That is the promise of the Hall of Flags. There resides the flags of every Connecticut fighting force that has been sent forward by the state from the Civil War, all the way to today. The collection numbers exactly 171 battle flags, and we should be proud that our great state will house them for ever in the State Capitol Hall of Flags.

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