Skip to main content

“to Show Where Their Flag Had Been …”

March 2023
1min read

The triumphal victory parade of the Union Armies in Washington, May 23 and May 24, 1865, is the scene that would have given me the most pleasure. There is an unforgettable description in The Letters of Mrs. Henry Adams: “A lovely summer afternoon—blue sky overhead—roses everywhere all over the houses—regiment after regiment came marching past, bands playing—squads of contrabands looking on. We sang out as each regiment passed, ‘What regiment are you?’ ‘Michigan!’ ‘Wisconsin!’ ‘Iowa!’

”… We were early and got nice seats … and eighty feet from us across the street sat the President, Generals Grant, Sherman, Howard, Hancock, Meade…

“About nine-thirty the band struck up ‘John Brown,’ and by came Meade with his staft”, splendidly mounted. Almost all the officers in the army had their hands filled with roses. … And so it came, this glorious old Army of the Potomac, for six hours marching past, eighteen or twenty miles long, their colours telling their sad history. Some regiments with nothing but a bare pole, a little bit of rag only, hanging a few inches, to show where their flag had been. Others that had been Stars and Stripes, with one or two stripes hanging, all the rest shot away…

“Wednesday, another glorious day— bright and cool, and we sit in the same place as before and see Sherman ride by at the head of 70,000 men, who, in physique and marching, surpass decidedly the Potomac Army…”

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "December 1984"

Authored by: David Shi

At the turn of the century, a crusading magazine editor exhorted women to seek peace of mind and body through simplicity. For a generation, they listened.

Authored by: Kenneth Finkel

For sixty-five years this photographic company has been recording America from overhead

Authored by: Richard H. Hopper

When did we start saying it? And why?

Authored by: Q. David Bowers

Solid-gold coins were legal tender for most of the nation's history. In their brilliant surfaces we can see our past fortunes.

Authored by: Edward Sorel

He was more than just a cartoonist. He was the Hogarth of the American middle class.

Authored by: The Editors

… 1885 that is, month by month

Authored by: Charles C. Hemming

All this Florida boy wanted to do was rejoin his regiment. Instead they drafted him into the Confederate secret service.

Authored by: Jerome Tarshis

California has always been as much a state of mind as a geographical entity. For the better part of two centuries, artists have been defining its splendid promise.

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.