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The newspaper articles below describe the ceremonies accompanying the removal of the Illinois Battle Flags from the State Arsenal to Memorial Hall, which had been prepared for them on the first floor (in those days this was considered the basement) of the State House, their restoration in the 1880's, and also, the dedication of a new Memorial Hall on the third floor of the State House in 1884.  The flags were moved one more time, to a more spacious hall created for them in the southwest corner of the first floor of the Statehouse. The flags remained there until they were removed from the Statehouse in the 1920's, to the stately Memorial Hall prepared for them in the new Centennial Memorial Building.  They have been in storage since the autumn of 2003, to prevent further deterioration from the effects of light and an uncontrolled environment, until they can be restored.  Click here to view photographs of the removal of the flags from the Centennial Building and to read an article about the process.

Display of relics in Memorial Hall, located in the southwest corner of the Statehouse.

Veterans display one of the flags during their removal to the new Memorial Hall in the Centennial Building, 1923.

These photos appear courtesy of MAJ. Mark K. Whitlock, Curator, Illinois Military Museum.

The Grand Demonstration, Yesterday, Upon the Occasion of the Transfer of the Battle Flags to Memorial Hall – 20,000 Visitors in Town

            Since the time “when Johnny came marching home,” Springfield has not seen such a sight as that witnessed yesterday, incident to transfer of the battle flags of the Illinois volunteer troops from the State Arsenal to Memorial Hall at the new State House.

            By early morn, excursion trains began to arrive, and continued to come up to noon, when it is estimated that there were fully 20,000 visitors in the city.  The estimate may seem extravagant at first sight, but when it is known that the O. & M. road alone brought in over eighteen hundred passengers; that all regular and special trains were crowded; that very many men, women and children came in by wagon, and that the veterans alone were counted by the thousands, the crowd will not appear to be overestimated.

            All through the morning veterans and National Guards continued to arrive.  Nearly all companies of the Fifth Regiment I. N. G. were early at hand, with the Quincy Grays and the Havana Guards.  The bustle of preparation was early apparent.  Staff officers galloped to and fro between general headquarters and the headquarters of the several divisions.  The 2nd Brigade band, that of the Fifth Regiment, and the several company bands were busy escorting the veterans of the several arms of the service to their place in line.  The decorations of the business houses and residences along the line of march were extensive.  There was a profuse display of bunting; and across the streets at various points were legends of “Welcome to our Defenders.”  Business was suspended a portion of the day, and the city wore a holiday appearance.

            Shortly after noon the column moved, headed by General John A. McClernand, and his aides.  Then came the Second Brigade I. N. G., as escort, with Brig. Gen. Keene and his staff: the brigade being composed of the Fifth Regiment, Col. J. H. Barkley, commanding, and the companies above noted of other regiments and a section of Capt. Mack’s battery; another section being engaged firing a national salute.

            The Second Division, Gen. John McConnell, Marshal, was composed of representative of the 1st to the 17th Cavalry, and presented a fine appearance.  Besides the division commander and staff, there were 64 cavalrymen in line.

            The 3rd Division, (artillery) was commanded by Gen. Thos. S. Mather, who with his Aides and command, marched in line.  There were representatives of the 1st and 2nd Regiments, Vaughans, Henshaws, the Mercantile, and the Board of Trade Batteries, and the Artillery Brigade.

            Following came the surviving members of Gov. Yates’ War Administration, and the orators of the day, in carriages.  After the Fifth Regiment band came the First and largest division, commanded by Major General John M. Palmer, with Gen. Richard Rowett, and other prominent military officers as aides.  The Infantry Division included numerous representatives from every Illinois regiment except the 103rd.  The men marched with the old time military “swing.”  In the line, and noticeable, was a one-legged veteran, John T. Sargeant, of the 83rd, whose other leg was left on the battlefield at Shiloh.  He, with a cripple in the Artillery Division, attracted more than ordinary attention on the line of march.  The Infantry, exclusive of division and staff officers, numbered 774 men, and there were also in line thirty-two veterans of the 29th U. S. Colored.

            Col. Dudley Wickersham commanded the next division, which was composed of eighteen veterans of the Mexican War, twenty-seven veterans of the Black Hawk and Winnebago Wars, and twenty-seven veterans of other States, among the number a Massachusetts officer who had served on Gen. Benj. F. Butler’s staff.

            The column moved according to the order of march announced in yesterday’s JOURNAL.  Along the line there was waving of handkerchiefs from the windows of private residences, and every demonstration of pleasure in the presence of the veterans.  In passing ex-Mayor Jayne’s residence, where a handsome portrait of Gov. Yates was conspicuously displayed and decorated, there were cheers all along the line.  The procession then moved south and halted at the State Arsenal, where the old battle flags were delivered to the veterans, and many of them receiving the colors were those who had borne them amid the carnage of battle.  The history of these mementos of the triumph of National Union, was set forth in yesterday’s JOURNAL and need not be here recapitulated.  While the flags were being delivered the bands played the Star Spangled Banner and other national airs, and there was much enthusiasm, which a heavy rain shower that suddenly set in did not dampen.  From the Arsenal the procession moved south on Fifth Street, and turning east to Eighth, the old Lincoln Home was passed amid cheers all along the line.  Turning west again the column passed through the Executive Mansion grounds, Gov. Cullom and his staff reviewing the same from the steps.  The procession then moved direct to the State House.  The Artillery Division had received a recruit by the way, in the person of Master Tingley Wood, Jr., who wore a small, but regulation heavy artillery uniform.

            Upon arriving at the Capitol, where the Governor and staff, with Gen. A. C. Ducat and staff reviewed the troops, from the east corridor steps, the veterans formed en masse “bunching colors,” and were surrounded by the Illinois National Guard.  The colors being massed, Chief Marshal McClernand made his report to the Governor, in the following eloquent remarks:

------(Speeches omitted)------

            The veterans then entered the State House basement from the north entrance and the flags were deposited in Memorial Hall, in the racks prepared for them.

            Dinner followed, and the veterans and National Guards surrounding the immense tables were served with a bountiful supply of substantial food, by the ladies, who were heartily cheered for their efficiency in dispensing the supplies of the commissary department.  An idea of the extent of this grand Camp Fire lunch may be gained when it is stated that the troops were furnished with eighteen barrels of coffee.  Upwards of 3,100 were served.  The only drawback observable was the conduct of a resident veteran of a so-called Sunday School Regiment, whose training in the same having led to predatory habits, he fancied too much the hard boiled eggs of his associate veterans at the table.  But then he’s a good fellow and nobody begrudged him nineteen eggs.

            The dinner over, the veterans and guardsmen were dismissed and visited other points of interest about the city, thus occupying the time until the


            Through the corridors in the State House, the Fifth Regiment Band playing in the rotunda, the veterans and ladies promenaded, and at a later hour dancing was indulged in quite extensively.  During the evening a meeting was held to consider the feasibility of organizing a State Veteran Association.  Gen. C. E. Lippincott presided and Jas. K. Magie acted as Secretary.  Those present signed their names to the roll and it was determined to appoint a resident committee, to be hereafter named, to draft constitution, plan of organization, etc.  Thus began, continued and ended, the Soldiers Reunion and the ceremony of transferring the flags to their final resting place.

Illinois State Journal - May 24, 1878


The New Receptacle for the Illinois State Flags
It Will be the Best Decorated Room in the Capitol
The Work of Cleaning and Preserving the Warlike Ensigns
Description of Some of the Flags and Banners – A Veteran’s Reunion

          A REGISTER reporter glided into the Art Gallery at the State House yesterday.  This room is being fitted up for the reception of the flags and banners used by the Illinois regiments in the Civil War.  When finished the new Memorial Hall will be the handsomest, by all odds, room in the capitol.  Prof. Marigoli, of St. Louis, with a corps of assistants is now engaged in frescoing and painting the ceiling and walls of the room, in a style of art that will equal any thing of the kind in the west.  The canopy for the room will be about 40x14 feet, and is now ready for the last touches of the painter.  It is made of a composition resembling somewhat plaster of paris.  The design is exceedingly hard to describe, and but a poor description can be given of this beautiful piece until it is finished.  The sides of the room from the floor, up for a distance of twenty feet are reserved for the flags.  Above these, panels will be painted around the room.  On the right as the visitor enters, and about the center of the room, resting in one of these panels, which will be enlarged for the purpose to about seven feet wide, will be placed a head and bust of Lincoln, with a drapery of state flags and banners, half folded around his shoulders and the seal of the state in front.  It will be painted on the wall, in colors true to life.  Directly opposite – on the north side of the room will be a like picture of Grant, decorated with flags and banners as before, only instead of the seal of the state there will be the representation of a gun carriage with gun, a musket and sword.  Immediately over the entrance door to the room will be painted a full-length picture of a home guard, with warlike paraphernalia in the background.  He will appear to be leaning on his musket.  The remaining panels will be painted in the national colors.  The work thus far reflects great credit on the gentleman in charge, and the room will be ready for the reception of the flags about the latter part of March.

            A call in the adjoining room, where Mr. Duckstein is engaged in repairing and restoring the old battle flags to something like shape, revealed that gentleman busy on the battle flag of the 21st regiment, Illinois volunteer infantry.

            “This is the relic of the battle flag used by Grant’s first regiment.  You see it is completely riddled by bullets, and is in shreds.  It was a very hard matter to fix it so that it could be preserved at all.  The blue background for the stars is all gone, but a few threads remaining, and a piece or two of bronze show where once the stars were.  This flag is not torn as badly as some we have.  Now you would not think we could save any of this, or this,” said Mr. Duckstein, at the same time exhibiting a couple of handful of colored rags, both would probably weigh together a pound.

            “These are the mortal or immortal remains of the 105th and 45th.  Gallant regiments they were, and made their mark on every field on which they fought.  We can do something for these flags, but the color sergeant who last bore them will hardly recognize these tattered threads as the proud banner he carried in battle.  Many of these flags would be in a better state of preservation had this work been done some time ago.  The years have passed and the threads pulling upon each other with nothing strong to uphold the whole, gradually pulled the fabric to pieces.”

            “What process do you go through to preserve and clean them?”

            “We first take the flag or its remnants carefully from the staff, and soak it in tepid alum water.  This not only cleanses the fabric without injury, but also sets the bloodstains.  It is impossible to remove the stains, even if it were desired.  The alum water brings them out in a bolder relief from the flag.  The flags are then pressed and mounted on white tarleton, which is cut the exact size of the original flag,  The pieces are basted to this, in the exact position they would have occupied had the entire flag been preserved.  They are then quilted to the tarleton with white silk by a sewing machine, the original fringe is put back, and the renewed flag is again put on the flagstaff.  It is most assuredly a tedious and fatiguing work, but as you can plainly see the flag is now in a condition to last many years, and the original pieces as they came from the war are preserved.  Here is the banner of the 9th, see that little pill in the flagstaff? It is not quite as large as a cannon ball, but ‘twill suffice should it hit you.  Thousands of our boys have met that particular bullet.  It is called a ‘Harper’s Ferry.’  There is nothing left of the 9th banner save the embroidered eagle.  This is the battle flag of the 13th, Secretary of State Dement’s regiment.  It is, as you see, covered with blood.  That was done soon after the storming of Missionary Ridge, I believe it was at Ringgold Gap, Georgia.  The 13th had been detailed to hold the gap for a short time and when the confederates charged, the color sergeant was killed.  His name was Riley.  He was shot through the heart.  In falling the flag became wrapped around his body and received almost all the blood of its bearer.  He said that if he was killed he wanted to breathe his last beneath the folds of the flag he loved better than life, and his wish was gratified.  Here is the flag of the 43rd, Auditor Swigert’s old regiment.  It is in a fair state of preservation.  This is the second one, however, the regiment used.  They were three-year men at first and then re-enlisted.  A daughter of Col. Thomas, who was the first colonel, made this flag and presented it to the regiment when it re-enlisted.  Mr. Swigert lost his arm at Corinth.  These are the remains of the 45th and 65th – nothing but the staffs, tassels and the cloth around the pole to which the flag was once attached.  There is a handsome silk embroidered banner, with a well-worked eagle in bronze silk.  It once belonged to the 66th.  The eagle is all that is left.  This is the 104th, you see not a whole stripe is left and the stars shot through and torn off.  This is the one carried in the 152nd.  The stripes are good but the stars, blue background and all, are gone.  A little blood is on it in spots.  It is very singular to me that comparatively little blood is on any of the flags or banners.  The banner of the 91st is now but a thin strip of blue silk about five feet long, a few stripes are all that remain of the flag of the 116th.  This flag is that of the 7th.  The flagstaff is pierced, as you see, with seven holes.  You can imagine the heat of the engagement it went through.  I don’t remember where it was, but believe it was at Chickamauga.  Seven color-bearers who carried it were killed.  The banner of the 7th is shot to pieces, and is very much tattered.  This is the banner of the 9th.  It resembles a cobweb.  It bears the legends, “Return Home Victorious,” “E Pluribus Unum.”  This flag was sent here with the history inscrolled on a parchment and sewed into the folds.  It is that of the 117th.  It traveled by rail, water and on foot a total of 9,276 miles; captured in the different battles two stands of colors, 442 prisoners and eight pieces of artillery.  How’s that for a record?  The flagstaff was shot in two and put together with a piece of tin.”

            “How many flags do you expect to place in the Memorial Hall?”

            “Between 300 and 350.  We have not got all of them yet; some we will not be able to get at all.  They are coming in from all sections now.  The 45th was received the other day, and the flags of the 82nd are in Chicago, recently found, and will be forwarded this week or next.  When the first inventory was taken there were 33 state banners and 24 national colors missing.  Adjutant General Elliot is working hard to have a full complement of the flags and banners, and will be very nearly successful.  It is my intention to place the banner and flag of each regiment together in the case and wrap the feet of the staffs together, fastening them with a bronze shield, on which will be written or printed the number of the regiment and the battles it engaged in.”

            “When will the hall be opened to the public?”

         “About the middle of March, or the first of April, I think.  It is my idea that there be a general reunion of the old veterans at that time.  After the flags are properly placed, the Governor give an address to them in the House chamber, and then allow them to visit the hall and look at the ensigns under which they at one time fought, bled, and many more died.  After them, let the doors be thrown open to the public while the veterans are at the campfire.  I do not believe the Grand Army, as an organization should have anything to do with it.  The Secretary of State has said he could provide rooms, and I am sure the citizens of Springfield will take pleasure in seeing that the old soldiers do not suffer for substantials for the inner man.  Such an event happens but once in a lifetime, and the ex-soldiers would like to look once more on their old flags.  They drop in here at almost all hours of the day and ask to see the flag or banner under which the endured so much.”

            As the REGISTER emissary turned to leave the room he was met by an old man, whose once sturdy frame was bent with age and whose hands were hard, horny and yellow with the toil of many years.  Yet his eye was as bright as it was twenty years ago.

           “Are the flags all here?” he asked with a hesitating accent in his voice.

            Being informed they were, he passed in and around and among the flagstaffs leaning against the sides of the room, looking for a relic of twenty years ago.  Finally he stopped before a pile of staffs and looked intently at a banner once bright in new pink and scarlet silk, with bronze stars on a blue ground, now it was but a mass of rags, pinned here, sewed there, and tied with an old rotten hemp string to the staff.  As he looked at the remnants of that banner, the spectator could not help but imagine the heart of the old soldier was down south in Dixie, breasting the storm of lead on Chickamauga’s field, up to the armpits in a Ft. Donelson swamp or following his loved banner in the bold charge up among the clouds – Missionary Ridge.  Shaking his head mournfully, he reverently touched the sacred relic with his hands and then his lips.  Turning to where at least one person was intent on watching him, his eyes full of that “briny balm,” he said, as he moved towards the door: “Gentlemen, pardon me.  But I can’t help it,” and he looked back at the dear old flag, “It was my guide on many a bloody field.  My days are numbered, and this is the last, the very last time, I ever expect to see it again.”  He broke down completely and sobbed like a child.  There was a suspicious moisture in the eyes of both his auditors.  Finally, as the Veteran again moved to the door, Mr. Duckstein took down the banner, and spread its tattered folds on a table, smoothing out as best he could the rags and tatters.  On it were ascribed the engagements in which it had participated.  The old soldier came back, pulled out a pair of steel bowed spectacles, tremblingly placed them on his nose, and gazed upon the mass as if it were his dearest friend, and indeed at one time it no doubt was.

            Such scenes are almost a common occurrence in the flag room.

 Illinois State Register - January 18, 1884

The Preparations Completed for Their New Quarters
Description of Memorial Hall and the Story of its Arrangements
Public Possessions Having a Value Beyond Estimation

            The arrangements for the services at Memorial Hall today, have been completed and the exercises will be carried out according to the published program.  The flags have been transferred to the cases and placed in position.  The hall was lighted last evening for the first time, and the effect was very fine.  Gen. Sherman will reach the city at noon today by the Chicago & Alton Railway.  He will be met by the state officials, with the honors due his rank and past services.

            The hotels were crowded early last evening, and the late trains brought in a great many people.  It is expected that many more will arrive today, which will form the largest assemblage of veterans ever gathered in this city.  Members of the last Legislature, a great many people of distinction in public and private life, representatives of the press, and others already here, give promise of what the day will be, provided the weather is favorable, that being the only question not now fully settled.



            The public has a general understanding of the material value of the State’s war relics; but to explain the steps through which they have passed and the difficulties in the way of securing adequate headquarters for them, the following is given for the interest of the visitor and the public today:

            In June 1865, as the regiments were returning from the war, an order was issued by the War Department, consigning the flags and banners belonging to each, to the Governors of the several States.  In the case of Illinois, as these mementos of the struggle came in from time to time, they were deposited in the old Arsenal on North Fifth Street, in this city, where they had but inadequate protection.  No effectual means were here provided for their preservation beyond the simple protection afforded from the weather.  All who saw them recognized the necessity of some safe place of deposit, and one Adjutant General after another and successive Executives for 20 years continued to urge the subject upon the attention of successive Legislatures.

            Nothing, however, was done adequate to the demand, and these sacred mementos of the patriotic heroes of the Republic, remained in their old depository until May 1878, when they were removed with impressive ceremonies to their present location in a room set apart for that purpose in the basement of the State Capitol.  The flags, trophies, and relics were borne on that occasion, in nearly every instance by the survivors of the military organizations who had fought under them in the war, and as far as possible by the men accustomed to bear them.  Veterans were present from every quarter of the State with many invited guests from other States.  That day has become almost an era in the history of the State, and local events are not unfrequently fixed in the public mind by association with it.  Music, speeches, historical reminiscences, letters from distinguished soldiers, including Grant, Sherman and Logan, patriotic poems and finally a public dinner spread by the ladies of the Capital, filled up the exercises of a day of almost painful interest, the whole concluding with the preliminary arrangements for the organization of a State Association, consisting of honorably discharged soldiers of the State.


            It was plain, however, that these priceless treasures of the State, carried with mingled rejoicings and tears to a new and better quarters, were not yet appropriately secured against destruction.  They were wrapped carefully, set up in racks and preserved as well as circumstances would permit, but they were still exposed to dust and the perpetual handling of curious people, and, as a consequence, were falling to pieces.  Nothing was done for their better preservation till the Thirty-third General Assembly made an appropriation of $10,000 for the purpose, and this has been expended in transforming the Art Gallery in the State House, immediately over the east entrance, into the


which will be dedicated today, with the flags and trophies properly displayed in it.  It is regretted that the hall, only 40 by 60 feet, is not larger, but no other room could be assigned to the purpose.  A door has been cut through the wall connecting it with the adjacent rooms to the south, assigned as offices for the Adjutant General, and the work of preparing and fitting up, has been in progress for nearly five months past.  Two nice cases for the exhibition and preservation of the flags were built at a cost of $5,680.  Each case is 5 feet wide, 48 feet long and 12 feet high, and is exteriorly constructed of clear, black walnut, with floors and ceilings of red cedar strips, tongued and grooved and blind nailed so as to be dust-proof.  The pilasters are 5 inches wide, with ornamentally carved capitals and moulded plinths, and frieze cornice in harmonious proportions.

            The main side lights consist of seven polished plates of heavy glass on each side of each case – each plate being 72 by 100 inches.  Of these there are 28 in all.  The end plates, four in number, are 60 by 100 inches.  Immediately above these large plates runs a course of frieze lights, five above each plate, or 160 in all, of highly polished bevel-edged plates, 12 inches square, and above these still another course of 160 round top-lights of brilliant gold Venetian glass.  Each case has two elegantly carved pediments, on each of which is carved in relief a military emblem, so that the four represent the four departments of the service, the Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Navy.

            A nickel-plated rail runs the full length and across the ends of each case, and is secured to the pilasters by nickel brackets, the nickel work being   plated on brass.  These cases, which are beautiful in proportion and finish, convey strikingly the idea of richness and durability.


            The preparation of the flags has been a long and difficult job.  It was begun five months ago by W. H. Duckstein, an artist of this city, upon original designs submitted by himself.  It was found that the flags in some instances were mere pieces of silken rags, and some of them stored away in boxes were actually a lot of separate fragments.  Those on staves were removed, the fabric dipped in a solution of alum to strengthen the old material and set the blood stains which remain on many of them.  Then the finest material of tarleton was cut in the original sizes of the flags and the remnants of the flags quilted down to it with sewing silk. The State banners were similarly treated, though the task on them was still more difficult, as the eagles and scrolls had become hardened and friable and had to be softened and cemented down.  This has been satisfactorily accomplished and it is a fact that some of these banners and flags, now in a very presentable shape, were but merely a lot of fragments preserved in envelopes labeled with the names of their proper regiments, even beggarly scraps being preserved as precious pieces, and carefully tacked in their proper places.


            When thus repaired and returned to their original staves, the flags are placed in the cases thus: Beginning with the Seventh Regiment, the first six having served in the Mexican and Black Hawk Wars, they were put together in regimental pairs of one banner and National color, the flags draped and the staves crossed and held fast by a gold shield bearing the number of the regiment and the names of several of the principal battles through which each flag was carried.  This process of preparation was continued for all the regiments from the 7th to the 155th, omitting only the 134th to the 143rd inclusive, which were 100-day men to relieve veteran troops, and there are no flags to represent them.  But their place is accounted for in the cases by a gold shield with an inscription to this effect.  Unfortunately the 72nd is lacking, having been destroyed in the great Chicago fire.  Its absence is accounted for by a self-explanatory shield.  The arrangement of the flags in the cases is such that any one required can be found without assistance.  They begin with the colors of the 7th Regiment at the west end of the north case and run consecutively around the case, back to the beginning, and thence continue in the south case in a precisely similar order, the shields all facing outward.  Including those of the infantry, cavalry and artillery and the guidons for them, there are 398 flags in the cases.  They make an elegant display, and their value to the State is beyond estimation in dollars.


          The work of frescoing the walls and ceilings was done by Maragoli, of St. Louis, at a cost of about $1,500.  They are finished in Etruscan style, with a canopy suspended from the ceiling, representing the four seasons, done in blue, gold and Roman bronze.  Artistically the effect of the canopy is to bring the ceiling ornamentation into better view, and mechanically to give an equal distribution of light over the room.  A row of gas jets surrounds the margin of the canopy, brilliantly illuminating the upper part of the cases and the ceiling.  The other lights are provided by two electric burners, one on each side, and a low hanging chandelier in the center.  The prominent features of the wall frescoes are two life-size figures, that on the north, of Gen. Grant, that on the south, of Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by the emblems of war.  Over the door on the west stands a soldier at parade rest in a tented field.  The two portraits, Washington and Lafayette, which have belonged to the State for many years, painted by James Barry in 1840, and recently ingeniously restored by Mr. Duckstein, are placed on the sides immediately under those of Grant and Lincoln.  In the opinion of good judges the work upon these walls and ceilings is in excellent taste, and devoid of trifling ornament; but that it suffers from the contracted proportions of the hall is agreed by all.


            Various other relics of the wars, in the possession of the State, additional to the banners and flags, are placed in order on the floors of the cases, just inside of the side lights.  They begin with the oldest of the lot, such as flint-lock guns of the revolution, guns and pistols of the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars, samples of the guns used in the war with Mexico and the War of the Rebellion, and end with guns of the manufacture of 1884.  Then come the flags, banners and accoutrements captured in the late war, missiles picked up on the battlefields and all the implements and souvenirs of conflict belonging to the State, now for the first time placed in a position creditable to the State and suitable at once for their display.

Illinois State Journal - March 26, 1884

Memorial Hall Dedicated as the Home of Illinois Battle Flags
The Dedicatory Exercises Witnessed by Thousands of People

            The battle flags, which the gallant and patriotic soldiers of Illinois carried through the long and bloody War of the Rebellion, have at last found rest – a rest that is hardly probable any person of the present generation will live to see disturbed.  They have been placed in the receptacle provided for them by the grateful people of the state, who can never forget the services of the brave men who marched and fought, and died beneath their starry folds that the union might survive and become the heritage of millions that were to follow after them.  It is the duty of the State to make proper preparation for these old flags, tattered and torn by shot and shell though they may be, and right well has that duty been performed.  Memorial Hall and the walnut and glass flag-cases therein are all that could be desired for the use for which they were designed, and to which they have now been dedicated.  These were quite fully and accurately described in the REGISTER of yesterday, and it now remains for us to give an account of the dedicatory exercises.  These occurred yesterday, and a recollection of them will not soon fade from the memory of those whose privilege it was to witness them.  Heaven itself seemed to smile on the occasion, for instead of the dismal rainy weather we had had for a week previous, the morning opened bright and beautiful, and the sun shown in matchless splendor all day.  Quite a large number of people, for the most part old soldiers, came in the evening before, but it was not until yesterday that we could truthfully say a great crowd was in attendance.  The trains during the morning all came in heavily freighted, wagonloads of people arrived from the country, city people emerged from their homes in holiday garb, and long before mid day the streets in the center of town were literally jammed.  The stars and stripes floated from the domes of the Capitol, the Federal Building and the Courthouse, and there was also a liberal display of flags at the hotels and private business houses.  The Veterans upon their arrival quite generally repaired to the State House, where they registered and were invested with the appropriate badges, which were supposed to entitle them to special privileges.  The long corridors and various offices in the building were densely crowded all day.  Long tables were set in the basement of the building, and hundreds, perhaps thousands of veterans were gratuitously furnished with substantial lunch and coffee at these.


            Promptly at 10 o’clock in the forenoon the Veterans and citizens of Springfield and elsewhere, assembled in the rotunda of the Capitol on the House floor, in front of Memorial Hall, where brief exercises were held.  A quartet composed of Mrs. T. C. Henkle, Miss Lou Hibbs, Prof. Louis Lehmann and Frank H. Jones, sang “America” with splendid effect, and then Rev. W. H. Musgrove offered a fervent prayer.  The Watch Factory band played “The Star Spangled Banner,” after which the doors of Memorial Hall were opened, and the old soldiers viewed the flags, ensigns and war trophies in the cases.  A constant stream passed through Memorial Hall and the Adjutant General’s office for over two hours.  At 11:30 the veterans formed in a line, and headed by the band, marched to the C. & A. Depot, where they met and escorted Gen. Sherman to the Leland.

            The principal exercises of the day were held in Representatives’ Hall, which, as commodious as it is, was not of sufficient capacity to hold a tithe of the people who were anxious to witness them.  It was not until very nearly 2 o’clock that the doors to the Hall were opened.  Meantime a dense crowd gathered around the main entrance, all determined to push in the moment the doors were opened, while others passed into and through the lobbies in the hope of “making a sneak” through one of the rear entrances.  Vain hope.  All these were securely locked, and the keys to them reposed quietly and safely in the pantaloons pocket of Chief Janitor Savage.  At last the bolts flew back, the doors swung on their hinges, and the eager, restless crowd pressed in.  In a twinkling, almost, every seat, the reporters’ galleries, the aisles and the space in front of the Speaker’s stand were fully occupied, and the gentleman’s gallery was over-run.  The only place that was not overcrowded was the ladies’ gallery, which was in measure protected, inasmuch as admissions to it were by tickets previously issued.  These were limited to the capacity of the gallery.  A platform extending from the Speaker’s stand to a point taking in the Clerk’s desk in front was reserved for the orators of the day, distinguished guests and the singers.  About 2 o’clock a party headed by Adjutant General Elliot, and consisting of Gov. Hamilton, Gen. W. T. Sherman, Gen. John C. Black and others, entered from the west rear door and advanced to the platform.  When the audience caught sight of the great hero of the “March to the Sea,” a shout went up from a hundred throats that almost caused the building to tremble.  Upon taking his seat, “Uncle Billy” made a “bad break.”  He leaned back in his revolving, tilting chair, thought he was going to fall, and started suddenly forward to save himself.  This caused a hearty laugh and another burst of applause, but the grizzled old hero recovered his equanimity in a moment.  On that platform, when it was finally filled, sat besides the distinguished gentleman named, Palmer and McClernand of our own city, but little less distinguished as soldiers than Sherman, who was bred to the profession of arms, and, without disparagement to the great captain, ranking him as statesman.  Then there were Rowett and Renaker, and others who deserve “honorable mention,” and all forming a galaxy of men whom any state might well feel proud.

            At a quarter past two o’clock Gen. Elliot called the assemblage to order, and introduced as the presiding officer, Private E. H. Miner, of Bloomington, who spent much of his time during service in Andersonville and Florida, and who is said to have been the youngest Union prisoner of war.  In a few apt and graceful words he returned thanks for the honor conferred upon him in the name of the rank and file – the private soldiers of Illinois.  Although he is still a very young man, he was exceedingly happy and self-possessed, and his remarks were received with marked evidences of favor.

            The Glee Club then sang “The Marseillaise,” Mrs. Henkle singing the solo in splendid voice.

            The Chairman then introduced Gov. John M. Hamilton, who proceeded to deliver the dedicatory address.  It was a wholly creditable effort, and well received.

-----Speeches omitted------

            At eight o’clock Oglesby appeared at a side entrance and the cheers and applause were almost deafening for a few seconds.

            Mr. Miner, at eight o’clock, called for short addresses from leading men in the war and asked for Gen. Sherman, who was cheered to an echo.

            I am delighted to find that the people of Illinois, crowd in, even ladies whom I see before me, take an interest in the old soldier.  If the people want any counsel they may call on me, but if they want more fighting – no siree.  (Laughter and applause.)  The General then related a laughable incident of his visit to Memphis.  He was visited by some of Forrest’s men there, who wanted to see the “Yankee Devil.”  Some of you boys remember Forrest and his men.  There are many men here who can address you much better than myself.  Here’s Gen. McClernand, and Gen. Palmer, and there is old Dick Oglesby.  Possibly you would rather hear from them.  (Cries of “No, no.”)  The General then paid a tribute to the speakers of the afternoon.  A reference was made to the events immediately preceding the war.  You may talk of Jeff Davis, and shooting him when he was captured, but I venture that not a single regiment from Illinois would have shot him.  You could not have done it, boys.  The best thing we did was when we turned him loose.  Had we hanged him, every little girl in the south would have had his medallion in her book, and he would have been a martyr.  As it is, he is ostracized, execrated and despised by all.  General Sherman then referred to the flags, and his remarks on this subject were particularly choice.  He regarded war with the south as inevitable and rejoiced when Beauregard pulled the lanyard at Fort Sumter.  It had better come then and be settled.  In reverting to the position of the flags in the Capitol, he expressed the hope that the latter would be completed before his next visit.  He desired to impress upon the minds of his auditors that Springfield is hallowed ground.  It was the home of Lincoln.  (Applause.)  He referred in touching terms to the life and death of Lincoln, and said he would rather be the dead Lincoln than anybody living or dead, unless he excepted Washington.  All he desired was to retain a warm spot in the hearts of his soldiers when he died.  (Applause.)

-----Speeches omitted------

Illinois State Register - March 27, 1884

The flags and relics on display at the State House. Photograph courtesy Illinois State Historical Library