A Day of Celebration – Today in History: September 17
Battle Flag Parade, Hartford, Connecticut, September 17, 1879

Pictured is a scene from Main Street in Hartford during the historic Battle Flag Parade on September 17, 1879 - Connecticut Historical Society

Battle Flag Day on Main Street, September 1879

The streets of Hartford were decorated with patriotic banners for Battle Flag Day on September 17, 1879 in celebration of Battle Flag Day – Connecticut Historical Society

September 17, 1879, was a day of celebration in the City of Hartford when more than 100,000 people came to the city to celebrate Battle Flag Day with a grand parade and celebration of Connecticut’s Civil War veterans.

In early 1879 officials decided that Connecticut’s Civil War battle flags would be transferred from the State Arsenal into cabinets in the new State Capitol Building. The festivities took place on Wednesday, September 17, 1879, the 17th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam—the bloodiest day of the Civil War. All of the soldiers and sailors that served in the war were invited to attend and escort their old colors to their final resting place. General Joseph R. Hawley was unanimously selected as the grand marshal for the parade.

People came from around the state to take part in the celebration and schools in Hartford closed that day so students could take part in the festivities. Approximately 10,000 veterans came to Hartford to march their regimental flags from the State Arsenal to the Capitol Building. The streets and buildings throughout Hartford were covered with patriotic colors, banners and flags.

More than 90,000 spectators came out to cheer on the veterans as they carried their cherished colors to the Capitol. When the veterans arrived at the Capitol Building, each regiment handed their battle torn flags over to Governor Charles B. Andrews who gratefully accepted them. After the ceremony, the 10,000 veterans made their way to Bushnell Park to dine in tents where abundant with food made and donated for them by local Hartford women.

Tara M. Cantore is an adjunct professor teaching English and public speaking at Paier College of Art and a graduate student in US history at Central Connecticut State University.

This Today in History was published as part of a semester-long graduate student project at Central Connecticut State University that examined Civil War monuments and their histories in and around the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut.

Learn More


“Connecticut State Capitol Tours,” 2017. Link.


History of Battle-Flag Day, September 17, 1879. Hartford, CT: Lockwood & Merritt, 1880. Link.
Caughman, Geraldine S. Qui Transtulit Sustinet: Connecticut Battle Flag Collection. Wethersfield, CT: Caughman Associates, 2011.
Ray, Benjamin C. The Old Battle Flags ... Veteran Soldiers’ Souvenir. Containing a Brief Historical Sketch of Each Connecticut Regiment, the Various Engagements, Casualties, Etc., During the War of the Rebellion ... Hartford, CT, 1879. Link.

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