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[304]

These flags will revive many a thrilling story in the minds of old soldiers, who, around the firesides of our Southland, will relate how they served as the rallying point for broken and scattered commands, and often were saved from capture by daring color bearers, who one after another fell in the attempt to save from capture the banners that had been presented by the fair women of the South, with the injunction, that living, they would defend them, or dying, make them winding sheets to wrap them for immortality.

Many of the flags were captured after hard fought battles. Some had never waived over battlefields, but were stored away and taken by the enemy. Single companies were not permitted to carry flags. Each flag, however, represents a sentiment and has a history. They represent the patriotism and affection of our glorious Southern women who sent forth their sons to battle, with the Roman matron's injunction, and gave the parting kiss to loved ones whom they cheerfully assigned to their country's call.

From the daughters of these women have come the strongest and most touching letters that have reached the representative who introduced in Congress the resolution that returned these flags. These will be kept as rich souvenirs and left to posterity that they may help to teach the lessons of reverence for the devotion and sacrifice of our Southern men and women.

Several of these ensigns were captured from the cavalry arm of our service. These men have waited patiently for forty years before having ample justice done to their heroism and valor. The English historians are telling the story of their deeds and giving them full credit for their sacrifices. From the frozen shores of the Baltic to the Isles of Greece. ‘The Isles of Greece—where burning Sappho loved and sung.’ All Europe is delighting to honor their chivalric souls and measure their manhood by those of her heroic slain. Scotland names them with those who fell at Bannockburn; England recognizes them in the spirit of Balaklava; and France counts them worthy to descend to posterity with those of her own Imperial Guard.

The best made and preserved flag here belongs to the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues. On it is inscribed the battles through which that splendid command passed. Their organization is still preserved. The sons of those gallant soldiers revere the memories and glory in the deeds of their heroic sires. This flag will some day pass into the keeping of the command that bore it so gallantly


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