View Full Version : Iowa's Battle Flags in Danger of Destruction

paul hadley
11-21-2008, 01:53 PM
Ladies and gents,
Many of you have joined in donating to help preserve a large number of federal battleflags so that they can again be displayed in Iowa's capitol.

Attached is a letter from a reenactor (not a member of this forum?) who says the federal and state money and private donations set aside for this conservation has been looted and the fragile flags are going to be put back on display and therefore in danger. (The whole point of the project was to restore all of the battle flags -- some work has been completed -- and then display them all in climate controlled viewing cabinets, not vertical on their staffs as was done in the late 19th century.)

Please read what he has to say. I'd say it's high time Iowa's congressional delegation got involved. There could very well be another side to this story, but he doesn't speak well of the curators/historians responsible for preserving these artifacts.

Paul Hadley

It has finally happened. The Battle Flag Project funding has been raided by the Curators and Middle Management at the State Historical Society. They have raided the money to use it in establishing another ACW project. The problem is that Federal money has been earmarked for each state to fund such a project so there was no need to do such a thing.

Please understand what this means. All of the money that the Iowa Legislature set aside for the conservation of the flags and all of the money that many of us have helped to raise for the conservation of the flags has been taken.

The budget now has less than $1,000 for operating expenses until July 2009. Those who have done this are informing outsiders that this will benefit the flags and that because of this move 30+ flags will go on display. They have told others that displaying them in an un-conserved condition will create support for the flags.

This is exactly the problem…none of the flags going on display have been conserved and since the money was moved they can’t be.

So their plan to place the flags on display, without conservation, will cause further damage to them and accelerate their decay.

This is tantamount to starting your house on fire to get the attention of the fire department. If you have no confidence in Laura Lee and Sheila then I would offer you the Textile Preservation Association who did the original assessment of the conditions of the flags and the only appropriate response…conservation.

The grass roots effort and legislators aware of the report understood the credibility of TPA and moved mountains to initiate the conservation effort. Now at the hands of only a few, all of this has gone to waste and worse yet, by neglect more damage will occur to the battle flags if no action is taken.

We can get information from the inside but Laura Lee and Sheila will have to sit this one out. The threatening behavior against them is more than they can stand up against and all of their efforts to resolve this peaceably have failed.

I will be writing emails to Senators and Representatives to ask for their intervention and I implore you to do the same. I also ask that you spread this information to as many interested parties as you can think of and let them know it is time to rally around the flags once more. It is my opinion that this is a blatant disrespect for the artifacts entrusted to SHSI by the citizens of Iowa.

This isn’t the first incident either. Items belonging to General Samuel Curtis (saddles and other horse accoutrements from the ACW) were near being loss and would have been had it not been for Laura Lee and Sheila intervening, reporting and demanding preservation of these articles. They of course met with harassment and illegitimate interference to prevent their disclosure.

The curators responsible had only one response, “We don’t need them, we have more.” (I paraphrase) I remind you that this is not their place to respond in such a manner as they are trusted agents of this STATE! They are required to act competently to preserve the artifacts they take into the museum as treasures not as personal property.

This also lies in the shadow that thousands of artifacts can not be accounted for or even located. Thousands. Not just one or two but thousands of treasures, memories, that Iowans have dedicated to their care.

Please don’t be fooled by the “professionals” there. Because of Laura Lee and Sheila’s efforts and selfless devotion the project has lasted this long. Now because of the hungry ego of these same “professionals” the project now stands on the brink of extinction.

They can no longer go it alone. They have risked their credibility, peace of mind and even their jobs to protect those flags. The Iowa Civil War dead would be proud of their efforts, please don’t let their sacrifices and the sacrifices of our ancestral heritage go in vain.

Write someone, anyone, a plea to save the flags. Laura Lee and Sheila have been given a gag order but I will rot in **** before someone says my wife can’t speak to me on such matters. If you have questions or need more information please call me or write me.

If you have a mind to, please give this the widest dissemination possible.

I am your obedient servant,
Ben Ramirez
15th Iowa Vol Inf
3rd Iowa Cav (Dismounted)