January 26, 1861
On yesterday (Friday) the Union citizens of Kingwood and vicinity assembled in front of the Court House, and erected a beautiful pole, about 105 feet high, which had been previously prepared. There was “a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether,” and the pole went up easily. We noticed among the crowd, men of all classes, and ages—the gray-haired sire, and the flaxend-headed boy—the mechanic and the day-laborer—the most influential citizen, and the most obscure.—Nearly the whole community turned out to participate in this demonstration in favor of our glorious Union. The simple word “UNION” upon the streamer at the top of the pole, amply expresses the sentiment of the people of Preston county generally.
The Union-loving Ladies of Kingwood having gallantly provided a large and beautiful flag, a meeting was called this (Saturday) morning and a formal presentation of it made to the Union men of the county. The noble and patriotic sentiments of the ladies in their brief address do them infinite honor.—May they find a hearty response in the heart of every good citizen. The following is the address of the Ladies:
The Ladies of Kingwood are influenced by circumstances heretofore unknown to American history to give some suitable expression of their abiding love for their Country. Our hearts have prompted us to present to you the emblem of our National Union, with all its Stripes and every Star, the Flag of our whole Country—that has waved in triumph in every port and on every shore. We present it to you with the prayer that fraternal feeling, good will and faith will be restored, and that the glorious legacy left us by our fathers may not be forfeited, and that no rash act may deprive our Country of her flory, so dearly won and fondly cherished. To the brave hearts and strong arms of our County we entrust this sacred ensign. On your honor, wisdom and justice we have relied in every trying hour—on your might we now rely for the defence of our Country’s Flag.
In reply, John J. Brown, Esq., on behalf of the Union men of the county, in accepting the flag from the Ladies, said:
We have met to day to do homage to the sentiment of patriotism. And if love to God and love to our neighbor be the fulfilling of the law, certainly love for our country connot [sic] be idolatry. Love of country is a universal sentiment, and is sometimes aroused to the wildest enthusiasm by apparently the most trivial causes. In times past the Switzer’s song of home, echoing along the glaciers of the Alps, has called a nation, of freemen to arms; and the mercenary ranks of almost every army in Europe have been deserted by the influence of the same soul-stirring song. The Marsellaise has time and again revolutionized France, and to day it is like a magazine beneath the throng of the imperial Napoleon. Hail Columbia and Yankee Doodle gave victory to the arms of Washington, and the smoke of battle and the shout of triumph at New Orleans arose amid their soul inspiring strains.
But while our ears hear, and our hearts drink the eloquence of song; when our eyes, kindled with the fire of patriotism, catch our country’s flag streaming in the sunlight, then let the loud shout go up, as it did from the shores of the Chesapeake in 1814—
I now desire to perform one of the most pleasing acts of my whole life.—Your mothers and wives and sisters and daughters have handed to me “The glorious ensign of our Republic” with “not a stripe erased or polluted and not a single star obscured”—wrought by their own patriotic hands, and desire me to present it in their name, to you my fellow countrymen of Preston county, and to say to you—it is our country’s flag—the emblem of our National Union.
I can find no more suitable response to the patriotic Union-loving Ladies, than by giving utterance to the beautiful sentiment of the patriotic poet of our own country—
It is not the flag of Virginia, nor of Pennsylvania, nor of Massachusetts, nor of South Carolina. It is the flag of our whole country—the flag of our Union; and there are clustering around it ten thousand hallowed associations and memories. It is the flag to which the gallant Lawrence turned his eyes in death and exclaimed, “Don’t give up the ship!” It is the flag that Perry grasped from the prow of his sinking vessel, and thro’ the deadly broadsides of the enemy, bore aloft to victory. It is the flag our gallant countrymen unfurled, in triumph, over the palaces of Montezumas.
Go—my countrymen. Baptise it in the morning sunbeams, and give it to the breeze. And if the time shall ever come, (which God forbid) when it must be bathed in blood—these mothers and wives and sisters and daughters, whose gift it is, bid me say to you, their fathers and husbands and brothers and sons—go to the tented field, stand by this flag, fight for your country under your country’s banner, and die in its defence, if death shall come, like the gallant Jasper, enshrouded in its folds.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: January 1861