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| Reception of the Fifteenth Regiment
The formal reception of the gallant few who have survived the perils through which this veteran regiment has passed, took place last Friday morning.
At an early hour the streets were thronged with a constantly increasing crowd eager to grasp the hands of old friends in the regiment, and to participate in the reception ceremonies. The railroad trains from every direction brought large additions to the throng from the various towns of the county, whose gallant sons are or have been numbered in the ranks of the regiment, and long before the hour appointed for the moving of the procession, not only the side walks but every available standing place was crowded with spectators..
The State Guards, Capt. Ivers Phu----?commanding assembled at their armory at 8 ½ o’clock, preparatory to escorting the Governor and his staff with the Independent Corps of Cadets of Boston, under the command of Col. C. C. Holmes, and the Boston Brigade Band, arrived at the lower depot at ten o’clock, where they were received by the State Guard and escorted to the City Hall. The fire department was out in full force, under the direction of chief engineer Alzirus Brown and his able corps of assistants, and their display was creditable alike to themselves and the city.
The Fitchburg Fusiliers, in citizens dress, under the command of Capt. E. F. Miles, with the Ashburnham Cornet band, arrived at the Lincoln Square depot about half-past nine o’clock, and were escorted to Brinley Hall. The procession was formed according to the programme announced in yesterday’s Spy, under the direction of C. B. Pratt, Esq., as chief marshal, with Messrs. Wm. A. Smith, Nathaniel Paine, Henry M. Witter, Harrison Bliss, Jr., T. W. Wellington, and S. Salisbury, Jr., and marched down Main St. to Lincoln Square and countermarched to the common where the arrangements for speaking were provided near the Bigelow monument.
The whole route of the procession was thronged with spectators, and the stores and public buildings were profusely decorated with flags and streamers of red, white and blue, the whole forming a brilliant and exciting spectacle. The returning veterans were greeted with cheers throughout the line of march, and the spontaneous tribute of the people’s gratitude and praise was all that could be desired.
On arriving at the speakers stand the regiment and escort were ranged in front of the stand, and the veterans were welcomed back from the fields of war by an eloquent and appropriate speech by his honor Mayor Lincoln, who spoke as follows:
Mayor Lincoln’s Address
Mr. Commander, officers and men of the Fifteenth Massachusetts regiment;---The Fifteenth Regiment! What thoughts, what memories crowd upon the mind at the mention of that glorious name. I recall the eloquent language addressed to you upon your departure from the city three years ago:---
“What hard fought fields at Monmouth and Trenton, what suffering at Valley Forge, what glory and victory at Saratoga and Yorktown, have made that name famous, history has recorded, and now that Worcester County for the second time sends forth to battle a full regiment of her sons, by a coincidence too appropriate to be called accident, the name which your fathers rendered illustrious, has been allotted to you. What they won for us it is yours to preserve.”
How nobly and how faithfully you have preserved the honor of that name, and have added new lustre to it, let the sacrifice at Ball’s Bluff and at Petersburg, let the hard fought fields at Fair Oaks, and in the Wilderness, let the glory and the victory at Antietam and Gettysburg bear witness. Let the gallant Joslin in his prison, let Ward, Haven and Newbury, Murkland, Simonds, Getchell, and Jorgensen, Grout and Spurr, Stevens and Arnold, Buss and Corbin, and the hundreds of their brave companions from their bloody graves make answer.
Yonder beautiful and classic monument, reared in honor of a gallant officer of the Revolution, was also erected to commemorate the public spirit, the valor, and the sacrifice so nobly displayed in the cause of liberty by the heroic soldiers of the 15th Massachusetts regiment of the Continental line. What spot more appropriate, what act more fitting, than for us the living witness of the martyrdom of these our sons and brothers, to place by its side a fitting counterpart on which shall be inscribed the names of those who have died in battle, to give new honor to the name of the 15th Massachusetts regiment.
Mr. Commander, officers and men, in the name of the municipal government and people of the city, from which you went forth three years ago one thousand strong, buoyant with hope and courage and enthusiasm, with feelings of pride and admiration, mingled with sadness, I welcome back the little remnant of your band. In behalf of your wives and sisters, your parents and children, your kindred and friends, with joy and gratitude to God, we welcome you to our hearts, and to your and our homes.
In behalf of the people of this great county---of Fitchburg, of Leominster, Clinton and Grafton, Brookfield and Webster, and all the rest, I welcome you to this your native or adopted land, which you have honored so highly and served so faithfully and so well.
And now Mr. Commander, a higher honor, and a prouder distinction awaits you. The old Commonwealth, jealous of her rights, and solicitous for her honor, disputes our exclusive rights, and claims you as her own. Her able, devoted, and patriotic Chief Magistrate is here in person, to honor himself, and honor us, in paying deserved honor to you.
I have the satisfaction of presenting to you His Excellency, the Commander-in Chief, Governor Andrew.
Governor Andrew’s Address
The Governor then spoke as follows:
“Mr. Commander and soldiers of the Fifteenth---The heart of the Commonwealth speaks the affection and gratitude of her people as no words can speak, or head can think. For three years of war, stretching from the upper waters of the Potomac, your long and weary march down athwart the fields laid waste by the havoc of battle, to the banks of the James; returning thence, marching and countermarching ever---now tasting of the rebuffs of war, now charging with undiminished valor, though with decimated ranks, wherever commands pointed the soldiers way, or foeman invited their coming; with victory perching on your banners and death leaping from your bayonets, the Fifteenth at last returns, their term of service ended, leaving the proud, victorious, eastern army of the Republic lying only in rest for a moment, that it may march to still higher triumphs, and strike from the heart of Massachusetts to the heart of the rebellion.
The eloquent lips of the Mayor of the Municipality of Worcester, who fitly represents in his own person the patriotic line from which he descends, and the patriotic people of this rich and rural county, as well as this prosperous and noble city, have with fervent words, and touching speech, uttered all that human lips need attempt to say to illustrate this reception.
The people have spoken for them selves---these crowded thoughfares; these house tops, lined with mothers, sisters and daughters of your people, waving welcome to the returning soldier boy; these crowded fields, where beneath the monumental record of the earlier name of the old Fifteenth, they come to grasp you by the hand, to speak ten thousand times more eloquent words of greeting than human speech can utter. For the old Commonwealth, soldiers of the Fifteenth, with inexpressible emotions of pride and gratitude, in her behalf and as her representative, I greet your coming. I give praise to your valor. I laud your patriotism. I record the virtues of the citizen and soldier, which in the history of your regiment is graven impenatrably on the recollection of mankind.
There has been no nobler name, there has been no brighter fame than this, and I know not now whether to envy most the throbbing hearts of the fathers, bothers and sons returning once more to the fond embrace of home, or the beautious joy of the spirits of those who, ascending from the din of the fight, have bourn up upon the wings of patriotism their love and devotion to holy duty to hallowed spheres on high.
To you we give this fond grasp of affectionate embrace, to you, the survivors of the Fifteenth, we extend the escort, the salute, the pledge of gratitude. Over the unmarked graves of those fallen but forever risen heroes we shed the faithful tear of memory, but we bear to them forever in our hearts all honor and fame.
The race, the battle of life, the struggle of this very war, remains still for you, and for us. For them the strife is over, the storm has ceased, the struggle ended, and the victory won; but, soldiers, both your names and theirs, borne upon the roll of the glorious Fifteenth regiment, will be read in after times with equal honor and with equal gratitude. The death they tasted you have dared, the victory for which they shed their blood your valor has helped to win.
And now, fellow citizens and soldiers, may the mercy of God and all the benefactions of heaven upon you, patriots and heroes, descend forever more.”
Major Hooper responded for the regiment to the words of welcome spoken by the representatives of the city and state; and in behalf of the officers and men of the regiment, tendered their thanks for the reception. He referred to the losses which the regiment suffered during its three years of service; to its thee hundred dead, and its many wounded who afterwards died in hospital; and expressed his satisfaction, that although the regiment could not show a brilliant record of uninterrupted success, it could justly claim an untarnished honor.
He referred in appropriate terms to the gallant officers who have commanded the regiment since its organization; Colonel Devens, who taught him that discipline and order were as necessary to a soldier as courage and daring; Colonel Ward, who, though maimed for life, returned to his command to meet his death; Colonel Philbrick, who, though prostrated by disease, was drawn to Fredericksburg in an ambulance, that he might be at his post; Colonel Kimball, on the trying fields of the Peninsula and Antietam; and Colonel Joslin; languishing in a Southern prison, were all mentioned---heroes alike worthy of their regiment and their state.
Weakness occasioned by severe wounds, prevented Maj. Hooper from making any extended remarks, and with three cheers for the “Old Fifteenth” led by Governor Andrew, the public exercises were brought to a close. During the exercises on the common the following dispatch was received by the mayor:
Boston---D. W. Lincoln, Mayor:---“I am sorry my health will not permit me to be with you to-day. God bless the Fifteenth.’ C. Devens. Brig. Gen.
The veterans were escorted by the State Guard to the City Hall, where a bountiful collation had been provided for them, and the cadets received like attentions in the Horticultural Hall. The Governor was escorted to the Bay State House and afterward to the Foster street station, where at half past one he left for Boston.
The regiment was dismissed during the afternoon, to meet again on Friday of next week to be paid off and mustered out of service. everything connected with the reception passed off agreeably and without detention or accident, and the returned veterans expressed themselves highly gratified with the manifestations of approval of their conduct which greeted them on every hand.
May the glorious example of their sacrifice and patriotism inspire others to join the armies of the Union and finish the work they have aided so nobly in bringing to the present stage of success and triumph.