Chapter 7

Command Gives Its First Governor's Ball


      The Company turned out to act as escort at the inauguration of Governor Henry Dutton on May 3, 1854, and on December 13th of that year gave its first Governor's Ball. The affair was held in Smith's Hall, which was the third floor of a building located at 60 Chapel Street, opposite the Green. Invited guests included the Governor and his wife, the commissioned officers of First Company of Hartford, and the commanding officers of the local military organizations, and the editors of the local papers. The editor of the REGISTER made this rather sarcastic mention of the event: "The first annual ball of 2nd Company, Governor's Foot Guard comes off at Smith's Hall this evening. We should like to accept the invitation, but circumstances will prevent it, and they must try to get along without us." Similar balls were given on February 22, 1855 and on New Year's Eve 1856.

      On November 27, 1854, the Company voted to "hire the hall and small room in the Glebe Building" and it moved into its new headquarters on December lst. It was voted, January 12, 1853 "that we give a cotillion party in the armory every week on Wednesday evenings for the pleasure of the Company and that they be private, also, the price of admission be 25 cents for each evening to bear the necessary expenses." The custom of holding weekly cotillion parties was continued for several years.

      The Company made a good showing in the annual May parade of 1856, appearing "in full uniform" and "numbering 35 muskets." "Cloth for the uniforms had been procured by the Company but each man had paid for the making of the one he wore. The Horse Guards and First Company of Hartford combined with Second Company in a review on the Green by the Governor. After parading through the principal streets they went to the Union Hotel and there "partook of a collation got up by the citizens."

      On May 6, 1857, the Company went to Hartford to take part in the ceremonies with the inauguration of Alexander H. Holley as governor and was much displeased with the reception it received. Upon its arrival the First Company which, the account in the records states, "is always behind time" was not on hand to welcome it. Finally, it started out unescorted and soon met the First Company on the way. The feelings of the New Haven contingent, already ruffled by the delay at the station, were further disturbed by their subsequent entertainment. After the parade, the clerk's account continues "we were escorted around the market or police station somewhere in the background where the First Company quarters are, and were crowded into a small room where some old woman had set out some cold victuals just to stay our stomachs." Second Company remained in Hartford overnight but no mention is made of what transpired in the evening.

      By September 28, 1858 the Company was able to make a very creditable showing as it paraded through the streets on its way to Beacon Hill for target practice which had long been neglected. An account of the competition states that the "firing was good considering the spot and influence which a strong westerly wind produced on the shot." Five elegant prizes were awarded.

      The Company went to Hartford on May 4, 1859 to take part in the Election Day parade ad had a happier time than on their former visit. The First Company was on hand to meet the train, and the men were served an "excellent dinner at the City Hotel."

      On June 14, 1859 the Company celebrated, the anniversary of the death of its first commandant, Benedict Arnold, by an excursion to East Haven. Here it went through maneuvers on the Green and then marched to the residence of the Rev. Mr. Havens who "made a very eloquent address of welcome," and invited the men "in behalf of the ladies to partake of the delicacies prepared by their fair hands."

      By September 25, 1860, Second Company was once more in excellent condition. This was the time of the Fall Parade and 72 officers and men were in line. In the meantime new by-laws had been adopted and copies published.

Chapter 8