Dedication of Grant's Tomb
On April 27, 1897, occurred the dedication of Grant's Tomb in New York City, with President William McKinley and scores of other distinguished persons in attendance. Some 22,000 men from all sectors of the nation marched in the parade. The Governor of Connecticut, Lorrin A. Cooke, led the Nutmeg delegation which consisted of the First and Second Company, Foot Guard, the Governor's Horse Guard and two companies of the National Guard.
On February 15, the nation was shocked by the news of the blowing up of the MAINE, and in April, Spain and the United States declared war respectively. As in former conflicts the Second Company took measures to render any services in its power. A recruitment tent was erected on the Green and some 200 men enlisted. It was hoped to form a Second Company to be attached to the Second Regiment, National Guard. This was refused so many of the men re enlisted in regular or volunteer regiments. Earlier, several members of the Foot Guard had resigned and enlisted in companies that went to the front.
Hostilities were soon over and in October, 1898, a peace jubilee was held in Philadelphia in which the Second Company took part. In the parade, which was led by General Nelson A. Miles, and reviewed by President McKinley, 25,000 men participated. The PHILADELPHIA PRESS wrote:
"The Connecticut Foot Guard made an impressive entrance into the city. There is nothing ordinary or commonplace about the aristocratic organizations whose function is to guard the person of their governor. The Connecticut Governor's Foot Guard travel in state--in sleeping cars, may it please you. The armories, warehouses, and halls of the City of Brotherly Love are not for them. They will move from their private coaches when occasion requires it, but no sooner. They are really fine fellows for all that."
The Company's next public appearance of importance was on September 29 and 30 when it took part in the celebration in honor of Admiral George Dewey in New York City. Before leaving, in five special cars, the Company paraded through the downtown section of New Haven.
Early in 1900 came the celebration of the Company's 125th anniversary, held on March 1. An account the following day in the REGISTER was headed with the words: "Foot Guards Fight Again; Successful Attack Made on Elaborate Menu." The affair took place at the Tontine Hotel and some 200 members participated, assisted by the Governor and his staff, officers of the First Company and the Putnam Phalanx, and a few invited guests.
At a meeting held in February, 1900, Secretary Jerome suggested the creation of a "retired list" for such members as had been honorably discharged, those enrolled to have the privilege of taking part in social events by paying the regular assessment but to have no voice in business matters. Ultimately, this suggestion was put into effect.
On September 29, 1900 the Old Guard of New York, an organization dating back to the Revolutionary War, paid a visit to New Haven. According to the REGISTER more than 1,000 people were at the railroad station to view the arrival. Escorted by the Major of the Second Company and his staff it marched to the Armory and was later taken in special trolley cars to the residence of Major Clark on Whitney Avenue. Here, as the newspaper reports: "the distinguished visitors were treated to an old fashioned English luncheon, with scores of beef and mutton roasts. Major Clark's fine grounds were thrown open to the Gothamites and they were treated with true Yankee hospitality." The Old Guard and the Second Company paraded together in the afternoon, presenting, it is said, "the most gorgeous sight" the city had seen in years. In the evening a dinner was given for the guests at the Tontine Hotel.
The Second Company went to Middletown, October 12, 1900, to assist in celebrating its 125th anniversary, and to Bridgeport on November 12th, when that community celebrated its 100th.
In the summer of 1901 the Pan American Exposition was held in Buffalo, N.Y. and in the early morning of June 17th the Company left for that city on a special train. In Buffalo they were joined with the First Company from Hartford, and many other military units. On the 20th the Foot Guard escorted Governor George P. McLean to the Exposition grounds to dedicate the Connecticut Room in the New England Building. There were numerous receptions, parades, and visits to nearby places of interest. The Company arrived home on the morning of the 21st.
In the fall of 1901 Yale University celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding and the Foot Guards accepted an invitation to take part in some of the spectacular exercises.
At the dinner given on March 3, 1902 in commemoration of the Company's 127th anniversary, service medals were awarded for the first time. The metal from which the medals were made came from Admiral Dewey's Flagship OLYMPIA which played a prominent part in the Battle of Manila in 1898.
The Second Company turned out on October 23, 1902 to parade at the dedication of a monument erected by the 9th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, on its original camp ground. In September of the same year 50 of the Second Company and a like number from the First Company acted as escort to Governor Abiram Chamberlain when he went to Lake George to take part in exercises connected with the unveiling of a monument commemorating the battle of September 8, 1775. In October the Company went to New York upon invitation of the Old Guard to join in a parade in honor of its guests, the Ancient and Honorables of Boston and the Ancient Artillery of London.
The most noteworthy event of the period was the visit to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis, Mo., which the Company made as escort to Governor Chamberlain in the fall of 1904. Connecticut Day was celebrated on October 13, at which time there was a dress parade by the First and Second Companies. On the return trip stops were made at Nashville, Tenn., Asheville, N.C., and at Chattanooga, where a monument was dedicated in honor of the 5th and 20th Connecticut Regiments, which participated in the engagement there during the Civil War. An accident occurred on the way to Chattanooga. The engine of the train carrying the First Company ran into the rear of the train on which the Second Company was travelling. Some of the occupants suffered bruises or cuts from flying glass, but there were no serious injuries.