5th Vermont Infantry
New Colors For A Veteran Regiment
The Burlington Free Press
February 12, 1864
The presentation of a new stand of colors to the Fifth Reg't took place Saturday morning on the Fair Ground where the regiment is encamped, in presence of a large assembly of spectators. Gov. Smith and staff were present and after reviewing the Regiment, advanced to the front, and the Governor addressed Lieut. Col. Lewis and the Regiment as follows:
Colonel Lewis and officers and soldiers of the Fifth Vermont:
It is with pleasure that I greet you thus in behalf of the State of Vermont.
The services which you have so gallantly rendered to your country in this great conflict, the noble manner in which you have maintained the honor and the fame of your State, adding by your daring bravery and gallant exploits new and fresh laurels to her name, have justly endeared you to us all, and entitle you to the proud and distinguished position which you hold among the many brave and gallant troops which Vermont has so unsparingly furnished to the great cause of Freedom and Humanity.
Nearly three years ago you left us for the field a thousand strong, unskilled in the art of war, an untrained but noble band of citizen soldiers. You have returned to us as war-worn veterans, skilled in the use of arms, heroes of many a well fought battle. At Fredericksburg, at Antietam, at Savage Station, on the Peninsula, and on many an other well contested field you won for yourselves and for your noble State imperishable honors; and your thinned an wasted ranks tell us in language not to be mistaken, of the hardships you have endured, the bloody conflicts you have so heroically met and the glory you have won.
To you belongs the proud distinction of having as a regiment been the first to re-enlist in your country's service for another period of the war-The Fifth Vermont, the First Veteran Regiment!
Soldiers! In the name of the State of Vermont I thank you for this renewed devotion to the sacred cause. It speaks proudly for your patriotism and your honor. The State with pride and gratitude accepts the offering which you have thus laid upon the altar of your country.
Colonel; I regret exceedingly the necessity which calls you and your command to the field again so soon. I had confidently hoped that, after the brief period of rest which had been assigned to you in which to visit your homes and the cherished ones there, you would be permitted to remain with us at this place, for a period of time sufficient to enable you to recruit the wasted ranks of your regiment, that you might go from us once more, a fully organized, but still veteran regiment, a thousand strong. I have endeavored, but in vain, to procure this privilege for you.
It is, however, the soldier's highest duty to obey; and I can pay yourself and your command no higher compliment than to say that I believe you obey cheerfully and willingly the orders of those in whose service you are.
We wish you a safe return to the field of your more active duties, and commend you to the watchful care of Him who rules the storm, and who will, in His own time and way, conduct us through this terrible ordeal, to a safe and honorable peace.
Allow me, Colonel, in the name of the State, to present you with this new standard of colors. Your regiment has fought nobly under the old-its pierced and tattered folds will ever witness to the bravery and fidelity of your troops. May this new standard be held sacred by you; with it I entrust to your care and keeping the honor and fair fame of the State of Vermont. The past history of your regiment is the surest guaranty that ther are safely entrusted, and will be sacredly guarded.
Lieut Col. Lewis stepping forward received the colors,- a handsome blue silk flag, bound with gold and bearing the U.S. arms,- and replied as follows:
Sir: - In behalf of the officers and men of the regiment, I thank you for this renewed evidence of the interest and care of the Executive of the State has always entertained toward us, as representatives of the State in that field of labor and of duty in which we have been called upon to act. And not only for these beautiful colors, but for the kind words with which they have been presented.
It is with feelings of justifiable pride that we have the honor thus to receive at your hands the first colors presented to veteran volunteers, as such from this State, whose honor and fair fame we thus mutually labor to extend and sustain.
Sir, we feel that whether it be more honorable to give than to receive, in this case, depends upon how we shall carry and protect this beautiful emblem of our State.
Let us hope that our past history may be some little guaranty for our action and conduct in the future. We hope that as we should have gained wisdom by experience, we may be able to win brighter laurels in the confidence and esteem of the State and of all good men.
We receive these colors with the more pleasure, as we are about to enter anew that arena where men see something more than silk and gold in the flag of their home and country; and the more as that flag which we carried with so much pride from the State a few short months ago, is now but a ragged remnant, too tattered and torn to be borne aloft in our hand, to animate our hearts in the day of trial, but which is still guarded by us with jealous care, until such a time as it can be fittingly returned to the State by him who, in such a great degree, taught us how proudly to bear it—our worthy senior officer.
Let us hope that, if this flag is destined to pass through a like baptism of fire, it may have a like honorable history, and be returned as honorably to the State
Let us hope that these bright and starry folds may ever wave over victory; and while we pledge ourselves to comport ourselves as men should, and do what men may, let us reverently rest the issue on the justice of our cause and the God of Battles.
The colors were then saluted and Lt. Col. Lewis proceeded to put the regiment through the evolutions of battalion drill. The precision and beauty of movement attainable on a smooth field was not to be expected with several inches of snow on the ground, and the Regiment numbering but little over 300 could not make the show of a full battalion, but the evolutions were well made and elicited the praise of military gentlemen present, and the admiration of the civilians. The parade lasted about an hour.
The regiment left on Monday morning early for Brattleboro and thence to the front. While their friends will be sorry to have them go, after so short a stay, there is not one but will be proud of them and of the honor the Governor has so appropriately bestowed on the First Veteran Vermont regiment.
Submitted by: Denis & Karen Jaquish.