68 - Presentation to the Authorities
Presentation to the Authorities,
by Privates, of Colors captured in Battles ending in the
Surrender of Lee
These flags of armies overthrown—
Flags fallen beneath the sovereign one
The War Department created an inventory in 1887 of 545 Confederate flags that were in its custody at that time. Until the fall of 1867, these flags were "deposited in vacant attic room of a building on 17th Street in Washington, DC, which housed clerks from the Adjutant General's office." Charles M. Nusbaum, "The Return of the War Department Captured Flags to the States, 1905-1906," Military Collector & Historian (italics) 60:4 (Winter 2008), 262-3. The largest number of flags noted as taken from any single battle were the 38 taken from Sailor's Creek, VA (17 more than Gettysburg). Nusbaum, 271 [Historical] The two stressed syllables that begin the first two lines of the poem provide a metrical representation of the materiality of the flags being referenced.
In end foredoomed which closes war;
We here, the captors, lay before
The altar which of right claims all—
Our Country. And as freely we,
Revering ever her sacred call,
Could lay our lives down—though life be
Thrice loved and precious to the sense
Of such as reap the recompense
Of life imperiled for just cause—
Imperiled, and yet preserved;
While comrades, whom Duty as strongly nerved,
Whose wives were all as dear, lie low.
But these flags given, glad we go
To waiting homes with vindicated laws.