Battle Flags.The regimental and battle flags carried by Kansas troops in the various wars in which they have participated were turned over to the adjutant-general of the state when the regiments returned home. In 1866 the legislature made an appropriation of $150 for the painting of inscriptions on these flags, and many of them bear the names of the more important battles and skirmishes in which the commands were engaged. Many of these Civil war emblems were worn to ribbons, and to preserve them a resolution was adopted by the legislature of 1867, making an appropriation of $10 for a suitable case in which they were to be placed. The case was built, the flags crowded in, and for nearly forty years reposed in those cramped quarters. In 1905 public sentiment was aroused and the following act passed the legislature:
"Whereas, The battle-flags of the state of Kansas, some sixty in number, have been for forty years without proper care, subject to moth and dust, and inaccessible to the public; therefore, be in enacted by the legislature of the State of Kansas:
"Section 1. That the sum of $1,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated, to be expended upon proper vouchers by the executive council, in providing steel cases, with plate glass fronts and backs, as near air tight as practicable, in which to preserve and expose to the public the various regimental and other battle-flags carried by Kansas troops; and that the same be added to the museum of the State Historical Society.
"Section 2. The adjutant-general is hereby required to furnish a designation for each flag, giving number of regiment, names of battles, and location of service, and that each flag be so labeled.
"Section 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the statute book."
With the above appropriation a handsome steel case was provided in which the flags have since been on exhibition.
During the Civil war a number of Kansas regiments were presented with flags by patriotic women in the localities in which the regiments were raised, notably Company I, First Kansas, which received a flag from the ladies of the Leavenworth Turner's Society; the Second Kansas, which received a flag from the ladies of Junction City, and Company M, Ninth Kansas, which was also presented with a stand of colors. At the beginning of the Spanish-American war (q. v.) the Woman's Relief Corps of Topeka, presented a stand of colors to each of the three Kansas regiments. The state also furnished blue silk banners to these organizations. On the return of the Twentieth Kansas Col. Wilder S. Metcalf, in returning the flags to the state, said: "My regiment and myself are gratified for this enthusiastic welcome. . . . The stand of colors which I have here was furnished us on this spot eighteen months ago. We carried them to the Philippine Islands and took good care of them. They were placed on the firing line on Feb. 4, and remained there until we were ordered home. While the regiment was in the trenches they were stuck in the ground right with us. They have been torn by bullets and brambles, but what is left of them we desire to return to the state."
On behalf of the state Gov. W. E. Stanley said: "As the representative of the state it affords me pleasure to receive these flags from the hands of the Twentieth Kansas. One is the old star spangled banner, the symbol of the nation's greatness. For more than a century it has inspired in the people the loftiest sentiments and across land and sea, from Bunker Hill to Caloocan, it has been the glorious emblem of liberty. The other, a torn and tattered battle flag, its scars and tatters, voiceless lips which tell of the devotion and valor of the Kansas soldiers. A generation ago, the young men of other years came home as you are coming home, from struggle and victory, and they brought their battle flags and placed them in the archives of the state. They are now covered with the dust of a life's span, which in the light of the devotion of the men who carried them in battle has the gleam of gold. Today we will place the battle flag of the men who are putting life's harness on with the battle flags of the men who are putting life's harness off, and will keep them as the state's treasures, that in the years to come they will teach lessons of the highest patriotism. The whole state welcomes your return to civil life, the people will follow you with prayers and devotion."Pages 157-158 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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