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28thNY
01-20-2009, 10:07 PM
My group has spent many years researching the flags of our regiment, the 28th New York. We were advised of the location of a battle flag of the regiment at the Historical Society in Lockport back in 2003 and made arrangements to see the flag. It's in a state but nothing you wouldn't expect from a flag 150 years old.

The location of the other flags was unknown at that time.

We revisited the historical society last Saturday and after unrolling the battle flag from acid free paper and handing over a check for preservation of the flag, one of our guys opened a box which was in the corner of the room.

The contents were other flags which the lady looking after us stated that she had found in the basement last week. We had to look through the box. The top flag was one from just after Nebraska joined the Union, the next was one from just after North Dakota joined the Union. Below that there was a folded flag which was obviously silk and the stripes were each a good six inches thick. It obviously caught our eye because the flag was obviously a big, old flag.

With the permission of the museum employee, we took the flag from the box and carefully opened it... The stars were gold painted on silk and we started seeing gold lettering on the stripes, which were falling apart as we looked at the flag.

The lettering read as follows:

Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Cedar Mountain, 28th New York, Rappahannock, Antietam, Chancellorsville.

Yep, it was the lost regimental colors of the regiment which we reenact and it was a mess. The flag had been folded in a box in the basement for an unknown number of years.

Here's a link to some of the pictures I took of the flag (not recommended to be viewed by the easily upset) http://www.28thnycoe.com/flag/

Our unit president contacted the head of the historican society and we were told that photos of the flag had been passed onto a conservator for urgent preservation work to maintain what remains of the flag.

It was an amazing and yet terrible thing to have found, even more amazing that the historical society apparently had no idea that they even had this flag, but the flag is found and is now being preserved, so a plus point can be taken from this.

Thad Gallagher
01-20-2009, 10:17 PM
It is always amazing to me that people don't know what they have, even when right under their nose.

I would also say that after you describing the way it was stored, I prepared my self for the worst (I have alot of emotion when it comes to our flag, let alone these flags). I was actually suprised that it was in the condition it was in. It looked pretty good to me, better than some others I have seen. Of course a picture can only show so much.

What a great find for you and your mess, let alone future students of history.

Bully!!!

28thNY
01-20-2009, 10:22 PM
It is always amazing to me that people don't know what they have, even when right under their nose.

I would also say that after you describing the way it was stored, I prepared my self for the worst (I have alot of emotion when it comes to our flag, let alone these flags). I was actually suprised that it was in the condition it was in. It looked pretty good to me, better than some others I have seen. Of course a picture can only show so much.

What a great find for you and your mess, let alone future students of history.

Bully!!!

Alright, having posted the pictures, I admit that I've seen worse, but just the way it was found... I think a lot of the reaction was more shock than anything else... The common consensus in the room when the flag was opened was "Oh s&*$! What have we just found? Now what?"

We're going back to the historical society this Friday to discus what next for the flag, so I'll probably have an update by next week.

unionprivate
01-21-2009, 12:57 AM
LOL, If I knew you were looking for a 28th flag, I would have mentioned the one residing inside the Niagara County Historical Society. The society is literally 5 min from my house as I live in Lockport. The last time I saw that flag was about 12 or so years ago. It looks relatively the same as it did then, although I would have to compare then/now pictures. Did you get a chance to view their collection of muskets, ribbons and other artifacts? You could easily spend a few hours looking, gawking, studying, measuring, etc. Good luck in your research!

28thNY
01-21-2009, 09:21 AM
LOL, If I knew you were looking for a 28th flag, I would have mentioned the one residing inside the Niagara County Historical Society. The society is literally 5 min from my house as I live in Lockport. The last time I saw that flag was about 12 or so years ago. It looks relatively the same as it did then, although I would have to compare then/now pictures. Did you get a chance to view their collection of muskets, ribbons and other artifacts? You could easily spend a few hours looking, gawking, studying, measuring, etc. Good luck in your research!

Hi Mike,

Were you at the event in Nunda last year for Memorial Day? I was stood next to a Sgt of the 140th but I've forgotten his name.

I intend to do a lot of looking, gawking, studying...etc... on Friday when I get back there. If you're in the area come down and say hi. :-)

As of this last weekend, the Niagara County Historican Society now has TWO flags which formerly belonged to the 28th New York. However, believe it or not, we're still missing one.

The original regimental flag was captured at Cedar Mountain and, through a round about way, was returned to the regiment by the 5th Virginia in 1883. It was the first joint reunion of a Union and Confederate regiment and, at the time, was considered to have been an event which helped with the healing process after the war... That flag is still missing and is one thing we're hoping to look for on Friday.

The theory is that the flag which is at the historical society may be a replacement as it bears no resemblance to the flag based on a photo which I have from 1896 - But that's just a theory because there is no reference to the flag which the Historical Society has in the regimental history.

We've known about the flag at the historical society for a good number of years and we've been doing fund raising for that flag since then and reproduced that flag for our unit. It's being stored very well, rolled in acid free paper and this last weekend was it's first time to see the light of day since our last visit in 2003. I've attached a small picture of that flag as it looked at the weekend. It's definitely bearing up well.

Thanks!

I've just noticed that the link to the photos is down along with the entire website... Great!

28thNY
01-21-2009, 10:39 AM
Ok, the pictures link is back up if anyone is interested in looking at them.

Mike in reference to your question which I missed, I spent a good couple of hours looking through their collection but had some specific research to do in the geneological section of the historical society.

One interesting thing though... We noticed a CDV album which had the regimental name on it in one of the display cabinets... The people at the historical society will be getting the album out for us to look through on Friday. Apparently it contains original Civil War era CDVs of men from the 28th NY.

-Simon.

Micah Trent
01-21-2009, 11:55 AM
Preserve it by all means. There's a cost to it, but there is a reward in it in the end. The Perryville State Historic Site just went through a several year process restoring the 18th U.S. Regulars flag. (See link below)

http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20179&highlight=perryville+flag

Good luck on your preservation effort!

MMurphy
01-24-2009, 07:14 PM
It's amazing what "historical societies", and "Historical Organizations" have in their collections and archives that they don't even know about, (or even care to find out).
The IHS building here has some AMAZING items of historical significance just "sitting" in a large "storage room", gathering dust. It's not cataloged, climate controlled or anything...just looks like someones old attic or a junk shop.
But then again after working there for four months and seeing how politics ran everything there, it's amazing that the building is still standing....

3rd_PA_Artillery
01-24-2009, 09:56 PM
The poor old thing's falling apart, but she's a beautiful flag nonetheless. Congrats on finding it.

28thNY
01-25-2009, 10:36 PM
A couple of people from the 28th and myself went back to the historical society on Friday to dig through their records regarding the flags of the 28th.

The flag which was found last weekend is now rolled in acid-free paper and photos have been sent to Albany to look into preserving/restoring the flag.

However, there is a bigger question which still exists following this last visit to the historical society and I have a number of questions which I'd be more than happy to have contributions to the discussion.

We now have the original regimental flag of the 28th New York which was found on Jan 17th in Lockport.

The battle flag is where the question arises. I knew most of the history of the flag, but the gap which I had went from 1903 to about 2002 (UnionPrivate took that back about five more years in an early post in this thread). The complete official history of the battle flag is interesting but currently has a nasty twist at the end, as follows:

1861 - The battle flag is made by the ladies of Batavia and is presented to the regiment at Muddy Branch, Md.

Aug 9th 1862 - At Cedar Mountain, the regiment takes over 50% losses including every officer on the field and the entire color guard including the flag. Following the battle, the flag is found by a 28th NY POW in the building they were being housed and he cuts a section from the center of the flag as a reminder of the flag. He keeps the section of the flag through four months in Libby and upon parole returns it to the Colonel of the regiment, Edwin Brown.

1863 - Colonel Brown and the 28th NY are mustered out on June 2nd.

1883 - Colonel Brown carried the section of flag with him for 20 years and on a visit to Washington visits the flag room where a number of unidentified flags, which were found when Richmond fell, were being stored. He finds the battle flag of the 28th in that room and identifies it with the piece missing from the center of the flag (which he was still carrying).

1883 - The 28th New York invites the 5th Virginia to Niagara Falls to officially return the flag to the regiment. They accept and the first joint reunion of a Union and Confederate regiment takes place in Niagara Falls on May 22nd 1883.

1896 - The battle flag captured at Cedar Mountain is photographed for the regimental history, writeen by a veteran of the 28th. (A copy of this picture can be found at the following link www.28thnycoe.com/flag2 and is named flag1-1897.jpg). Desc: No lettering, inverted Great Star pattern and hole in the middle.

1903 - Upon the death of Colonel Brown, the battle flag is draped over the coffin of the Colonel in Medina, NY.

Shortly afterwards, the remaining men of the 28th decided to send the battle flag "along with flags of other Niagara County regiments" to the County Clerk office for safekeeping.

1911 - The last of the regiment, vote to send the battle flag to Albany. The flag is sent and hangs in the flag room from 1911.

1959 - Niagara County makes attempts to have the flag of the 28th returned to Lockport and on Jul 21st the battle flag is passed over to the County Historian. The newspaper article announcing this includes a picture of the battle flag. A copy of this picture can be found at the following link www.28thnycoe.com/flag2 and is named flag2-1959.jpg. Desc: "28th Regt NYV" lettering, 6-6-5-5-6-6 star pattern and top right corner missing.

2009 - The battle flag of the 28th New York remained at the historical society for 50 years and was photographed by myself on Jan 17th (A copy of this picture can be found at the following link www.28thnycoe.com/flag2 and is named flag3-2009.jpg). Desc: As per the flag in the 1959 picture.



If you've looked at the first and second pictures, there is no point denying that the flags are completely different.

As I can see no reason why the flag would have undergone a revamp between 1896 and 1959, the first point is that the historical society has had the wrong flag in their collection for 50 years.

The second point is that the State, at Albany, may have also had the wrong flag in their collection for 48 years prior to that.


I think that the flag which was presented to the historical society in 1959 is a replacement issued to the regiment after they lost the flag in 1862 and the two flags got mixed up at some point in the past.

So the main question is where is the original battle flag of the 28th New York?

I expect that the men of the 28th would have known which flags they gave to the County Clerk in 1903, so the mix up must have occurred either at the County Clerks office; when the flag was being sent to Albany; or when the flag was returned to Lockport.

Obviously that narrows down the options, all of which I am going to be following up on shortly.


The question is ... Has anyone ever heard of a replacement battle flag being issued to a regiment?

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks,

MMurphy
01-29-2009, 04:32 PM
The question is ... Has anyone ever heard of a replacement battle flag being issued to a regiment?

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks,


This was the same question I asked a while back about the Regimental Flags of 1st Texas (the Battle Flag and State Colors) which were lost at Sharpsburg. I haven't been able to get an answer on it yet and am still working it.

Have you (just a thought), tried contacting the MOC in Richmond and seeing if "by chance" they might have (or know of someone who does), Union Flags in "Safekeeping"???

Sounds like there was a mixup later on and as the real vets were all gone, the regular folks thought the flag was the real one...

Good luck, this is a fascinating story, keep us informed!

28thNY
01-30-2009, 03:52 PM
Hi Michael,

I've been reviewing the online flag records from Albany this week. They have been doing a major preservation of the New York flags from the Civil War and their records show a number of replacement flags in their collection. They have nothing for the 28th New York listed though.

They're got a complete set of the preserved flags online with pictures. Here's the link I found:

http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/btlflags/electronindex.htm

I've sent them an email asking about other flags which have not yet been preserved and anything which they have in their records regarding any flags of the 28th New York and am awaiting a reply at this time.

Thanks,

plankmaker
01-30-2009, 04:29 PM
It was common for Pennsylvania regiments to be issued multiple stands of colors due to damage received in battles and such. Here is one example.

Mark Campbell
Piney Flats, TN

From: Advance the Colors: Pennsylvania Civil War Battle Flags
By Richard A. Sauers - Capital Preservation Committee
Copyright 1987 by the Capital Preservation Committee, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

53rd Infantry
First State Color

Representing soldiers from thirteen Keystone counties, the 53rd Pennsylvania was organized during the fall of 1861. The officers elected as colonel John R. Brooke, a Pottstown area native who had already served in the three-months volunteers. Brooke would ultimately become a brigadier-general and continue in the Regular Army after the war. Shortly after the regiment was organized, it received its state color from the governor at Camp Curtin on November 5, 1861. Sergeant Dewalt S. Fouse of Company C was selected to bear the color. The 51st and 52nd regiments received their flags during the same ceremony.

Two days after obtaining its color, the 53rd was shipped to Washington, where it remained during the winter of 1861-1862, constantly drilling in routine camp duty. The new regiment was attached to the First Division, Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, with which it remained during its entire term of service. After the occupation of Manassas in March 1862, the corps was transported by water to the Yorktown Penninsula, being held in reserve during the Siege of Yorktown. The 53rdís initial taste of combat occurred on the second day of the Battle of Fair Oaks, June 1, 1862. The corps wash rushed as reinforcements across a rickety bridge over the flooded Chickahominy River to aid the hard-pressed Yankees south of the river. Although thrown into confusion at first, the regiment rallied and fought well, suffering ninety-four casualties. Thereafter, the regiment performed rearguard duty as McClellan's army fell back from Richmond during the Seven Days' Battles.

The Second Corps was then returned to Washington and covered the withdrawal of the beaten army after the Second Battle of Manassas. During the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, the 53rd protected the right flank of the division as it assaulted the Rebel position along the now-famous Sunken Road. At Fredericksburg on December 13, the corps was in the forefront of the unsuccessful, bloody assaults on the strong Confederate position on Marye's Heights. Here, the 53rd entered the attack with 285 officers and men and suffered a loss of 155. Color-sergeant John M. Harvey was among the severely wounded.

After spending the winter of 1862-63 in camp near Falmouth, the regiment took part in General Hooker's Chancellorsville Campaign of April-May 1863. Although the First Division was actually engaged during the battle on May 3, the 53rd escaped with a loss of only eleven men. The much-reduced regiment then marched north with the army to Gettysburg. Three companies were detached as provost guards and the other seven companies could only muster 135 officers and men. On July 2, the First Division of Second Corps went into action in the Wheatfield. Colonel Brooke, commanding the Fourth Brigade of the division, was held in reserve until the counterattacking Federals needed more impetus. Brooke's troops then launched a bayonet charge across the Wheatfield, driving the enemy from the southern end of the contested field. After repelling several attacks on their new position in the woods beyond the Wheatfield, the outnumbered Yankees were forced to retreat. The 53rd lost eighty men of the 135 who entered the fight, the casualties included the color-bearer.

Upon the army's return to Virginia in pursuit of General Lee's army, the 53rd took part in the minor campaigns of Bristoe Station and Mine Run, then went into winter camp near Stevensburg. Most of the soldiers re-enlisted for another three years and the regiment was sent to Harrisburg for its furlough in late December 1863. A reporter who witnessed the 53rd's arrival commented on the appearance of the tattered state color: "The regimental flag exhibits the danger through which it has passed, it being completely riddled and torn with bullets. Four sets of color bearers were killed - the last having fallen at Gettysburg. The first bullet which pierced the flag went immediately through the upper circle of the figure "3." The remnant of the first state color, without a staff, was apparently left in Harrisburg when the regiment returned to the front. A replacement staff was supplied prior to the 1866 ceremony, when the flag was officially returned to the Commonwealth.

Second State Color

A replacement state color was sent to the state by Horstmann Brothers in February 1864. Colonel Brooke took the flag to the 53rd sometime prior to the opening of the 1864 campaign. The regiment suffered a mere four casualties during the fighting in the Wilderness on May 5-6. During the titanic struggle at Spotsylvania on May 8-18, the Second Corps was heavily engaged with the enemy. On May 12, the entire corps surged forward and captured a portion of the Rebel earthworks. The resulting counterattack neutralized General Hancock's breakthrough and the two armies remained locked in a stalemate. The 53rd lost 177 officers and men during the heavy fighting. After being lightly engaged during Grant's crossing of the North Anna River, the 53rd next fought at Cold Harbor on June 3. Here, Grant launched a series of attacks on Lee's position, but the attackers were repulsed with heavy losses. The 53rd's casualties totaled sixty-nine.

Grant then transferred the Army of the Potomac south of the James River to attack Petersburg. During the June 16 assaults and on the next few days, the 53rd suffered battle casualties of ninety-nine soldiers. Repulsed in his attempt to capture Petersburg, Grant settled down into a period of siege warfare that lasted until April 2, 1865. The 53rd generally remained in the siege lines during this period. The First Division of the corps took part in the Battle of Reams' Station on August 25, where the 53rd suffered light casualties. The regiment next fought in the Battle of Five Forks, when the Second Corps was rushed to aid the hard-pressed Fifth Corps. During the Appomattox Campaign, the 53rd aided in the capture of part of Lee's wagon train on April 6. After Lee surrendered, the regiment camped at Burkesville a short time, then proceeded to Alexandria. It took part in the Grand Review on May 23, where a reporter noted that only about one-third of the state color remained. The regiment was mustered out of service on June 30, 1865. This second state color was officially returned to state care on July 4, 1866.

Third State Color

Colonel William M. Mintzer ordered this flag sometime in May 1865. The flag was delayed in reaching the regiment, and although Colonel Mintzer wrote letters of inquiry, the regiment disbanded before the flag was received. It was therefore sent to Adjutant-General Russell's office for safekeeping. The flag was present in the 1866 parade, when it was officially given to the state.