Chapter 12

First Powder House Commemoration


      On April 24, 1905, Foot Guard Day, commemorating the departure of the Company for Lexington in 1775, was celebrated for the first time. Assembling at the Armory, the Company marched to the Church of the Redeemer where Chaplain Watson L. Phillips delivered an appropriate sermon, after which the Company preceded to City Hall. Here, simulating what had originally transpired the Major demanded the keys to the Powder House, which were reluctantly surrendered. As the Command, after a short march, entered the Green, there was a salute of cannon fire, following which the Company put on a dress parade and passed in review before the Governor and guests. In the evening there was a dinner in Harmony Hall. The program originated in the mind of Chaplain Phillips and with only minor changes has been followed annually ever since, although the date of the event has been changed from April to May.

      On May 6, 1905 the Guard went to New London where a monument in honor of John Winthrop was dedicated.

      From October 18-20, 1906 the Company was in Lexington and Concord for a celebration in which a number a military organizations took part. After exercises at Lexington they went to Concord Bridge where the principal speaker was Chaplain Phillips whose subject was "The Spirit of '76." Back in Boston on the evening of the 19th the Company attended a dinner at which some 550 were present including the Governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

      On June 18, 1907 the Company went to Milford to participate in the observance of its bicentennial, and on June 9, 1907 the Company had the pleasure of taking part in the inauguration as Governor, one of its own members, Rollin S. Woodruff.

      Noteworthy was the trip to the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition which extended over a week, October 13-20, 1907. On "Connecticut Day" the Company paraded, 109 strong, as escort to Governor Woodruff. In Richmond on the way home, it was entertained by the Infantry Blues. The result of that visit has been memorable in the history of the Guards and the Blues, and indeed, of the two states, Virginia and Connecticut. The two commands have, since then, exchanged visits and courtesies of all kinds and have written new chapters in the history of the two sections. Men from the North and South commingled and formed friendships that have been enduring.

      The Infantry Blues of Richmond came to New Haven on September 9, 1908 and arrived here by train at one o'clock in the morning. Thousands of the populace were on hand to greet them. The Major of the visitors claimed "I didn't expect half the town to be at the station to greet us this time of the morning." They were escorted to the Tontine Hotel where they were quartered during their stay, and upon awakening in the morning were taken on a tour of the city in some 75 automobiles. Luncheon was served in the New Haven Country Club and in the afternoon there was a parade by two companies, followed by a dress parade on the Green. Dinner at the Shoreham, Morris Cove, at which Governor Woodruff was the guest of honor, and a military ball in the Armory completed the day's activities. The next forenoon the guests were shown about Yale and at noon they entrained for Providence, from there to return by boat to Richmond.

      In 1908, the Company again acquired a band of its own but it wasn't until September 13, 1909 that it was voted to provide the band and fife and drum corps with uniforms to correspond with those worn by the Company.

      On July 5, 1909 the Company went to Norwich to assist in the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the settlement. The Company went to Middletown, 114 strong, on November 12, 1909 to take part in ceremonies connected with the inauguration of William A. Shanklin as president of Wesleyan and then proceeded to Hartford where, with President William Howard Taft, a new armory was dedicated.

      The Guard was called upon to do police duty on the morning of April 13, 1910 when a fire broke out in the New Haven County Jail, and 76 members of the Company reported for duty and assisted in transporting prisoners to places of safety. A detail guarded those taken to the armory until the fire was under control and they could be returned to the jail.

      This was a period replete with visitations, receptions and entertainments. Of the entertainments sponsored by the Second Company, the first was a lecture on "Around the World with the Atlantic Fleet" given by Franklin Matthews in Harmony Hall on April 8, 1910. Held in the same place on December 14th, was a "Minstrel Frolic," followed by a dance. Another minstrel show was put on at the Grand Opera House, February 17, 1912, with the Governor and staff as guests. This enriched the Company's treasury to the extent of $800.

      Also, during this period, three excursions were made outside the state. The first was to Gettysburg for a day and then on to Richmond, Va., where on May 10, 1910 the Infantry Blues dedicated their new armory. Also on hand was the First Company from Hartford and numerous other military organizations. The parade, with the visiting commands in their colorful uniforms, afforded a spectacle, according to the newspapers "that will long be remembered."

      On Sunday, October 22, 1911 exercises under the direction of Chaplain Maurer were held in Center Church, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the departure of Company K, Sixth Connecticut Volunteers--the Foot Guard Company--for the front in the early days of the Civil War. One of the most impressive parts of the service was the calling of the Company roll, to which six veterans answered. The principal address was given by Governor Simeon E. Baldwin.

Chapter 13