Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Flag Raising

This entry is from  Witness to the Young Republic: A Yankee’s Journal, Donald B. Cole and John J. McDonough, editors (as found at Mr. Lincoln's White House)

Benjamin French  is describing a flag raising on the South Lawn at the White House that took place on April 27th 1861, attended by a large crowd of citizens and military and civilian officials, including General-in-Chief Winfield Scott, Secretary of State William H. Seward, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Mary Todd Lincoln.

"After a band played "Hail to the Chief" prayer was read by Rev. Smith Pyne, Mr. Lincoln raised the flag with mixed success: The President then took hold of the halliards & commenced raising the flag. At the place where the cloth surrounded the pole it hung hard, but the President tugged away with a will, and up it went, but, alas, when it blew out in the breeze the two upper stripes and about three of the stars were separated by a rent, and just hung like a ribbon to the rest of the flag. Although a thousand hearty cheers went up, and the band played 'the star spangled banner,' and the guns of the Artillery, stationed on the Monument grounds, thundered a salute, I felt a sorrow that I cannot describe, at seeing the torn flag. It seemed to me an omen of ill luck. My only consolation was observing the determined energy with which the president pulled away at the halliards — as if he said, in his mind, 'It has got to go up whether or no.' And I thought, 'Well, let what reverses may come, he will meet them with the same energy, and bring us out of war, if with a tattered flag, still it will all be there!'"
Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with bayoneted musket in front of American flag,
from the Library of  Congress Collection

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