The color-bearers of each command were stationed upon the steps leading to the Capitol
; and when all were in position, holding aloft the war-worn banners, they presented a spectacle at once imposing and picturesque.
The arrangements were completed.
Rev. Samuel K. Lothrop, D. D.
, made a most impressive and fervent prayer, at the conclusion of which General Couch
stepped forward, and addressed Governor Andrew
May it please your Excellency,—We have come here to-day as the representatives of the army of volunteers furnished by Massachusetts for the suppression of the Rebellion, bringing these colors in order to return them to the State who intrusted them to our keeping.
You must, however, pardon us if we give them up with profound regret; for these tattered shreds forcibly remind us of long and fatiguing marches, cold bivouacs, and many hard-fought battles.
The rents in their folds, the battle-stains on their escutcheons, the blood of our comrades that has sanctified the soil of a hundred fields, attest the sacrifices that have been made, the courage and constancy shown, that the nation might live.
It is, sir, a peculiar satisfaction and pleasure to us, that you, who have been an honor to the State and nation, from your marked patriotism and fidelity throughout the war, and have been identified with every organization before you, are now here to receive back, as the State custodian of her precious relics, these emblems of the devotion of her sons.
May it please your Excellency, the colors of the Massachusetts volunteers are returned to the State.
The Governor replied in the following brief but beautiful and eloquent address:—
General,—This pageant, so full of pathos and of glory, forms the concluding scene in the long series of visible actions and events in which Massachusetts has borne a part for the overthrow of the Rebellion and the vindication of the Union.
These banners returned to the Government of the Commonwealth through welcome hands.
Borne one by one out of this Capitol during more than four years of civil war, as the symbols of the nation and the Commonwealth under which the battalions of Massachusetts departed to the fields,—they come back again, borne hither by surviving representatives of the same heroic regiments and companies to which they were intrusted.
At the hands, General, of yourself, the ranking officer of the volunteers