Unfurling a Piece of Civil War History

After a long journey one of Ohio’s Civil War battle flags has found its way home.

In a ceremony last January the Ohio Society Daughters American Revolution (DAR) transferred the regimental flag of the 89th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) to the care of the Ohio History Connection. On July 21, 2014 Ohio History Connection staff John Haas, Jessica Mayercin and Cliff Eckle along with SFC Joshua Mann of the Ohio National Guard unfurled the flag. It was unrolled so that it could be stored flat in an archival-quality storage cabinet located in the Follow the Flag exhibit on the museum floor of the Ohio History Center.

John Haas, SFC Josh Mann and Cliff Eckle beginning to unroll the flag.

John Haas, SFC Josh Mann and Cliff Eckle beginning to unroll the flag.

History of the 89th OVI
The 89th OVI was organized in August 1862 with men from Brown, Clermont, Highland and Ross counties. The regiment fought at Chickamauga, the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. Future Ohio Governor Joseph Foraker served in the regiment. The flag, known as the regimental colors, was purchased by the ladies of Brown County and sent to the regiment as a replacement for their flags that were captured at the battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. During the Atlanta campaign, this flag was captured by Confederate cavalry on August 18, 1864 when one of the sutler wagons carrying the flag broke down on a march.

Removing layers of tissue paper to reveal the flag.

Removing layers of tissue paper to reveal the flag.

After the War
After the war, William Barnes, a veteran of Company C of the 89th OVI and a Williamsburg, Ohio native, searched the southern states for the regiment’s lost flag. Barnes discovered the flag in the possession of a J.C. Duncan of Talladega, Alabama. Duncan had served with the Confederate cavalry unit that had captured the flag during the war. Barnes recovered the flag from Duncan on June 30, 1880. The flag remained in Barnes’ family until it was donated to the Ohio Society DAR in 2001 for display at the Camp Dennison Civil War Museum near Cincinnati. While researching preservation options for the flag, they learned that Ohio’s regimental battle flags could not be owned privately and were still under the auspices of the Ohio Adjutant General and the Ohio National Guard. Since 1971, the Ohio History Connection has partnered with the Ohio National Guard to preserve the battle flags. The Ohio Society DAR made arrangements to transfer the flag to the Ohio History Connection.

The flag completely unfurled.  The eagle pattern missing in the center of the flag was the Arms of the United States.

The flag completely unfurled. The eagle pattern missing in the center of the flag was the Arms of the United States.

Ohio Battle Flag Collection
The Adjutant General’s Battle Flag Collection contains 554 flags; the majority from the Civil War. Displayed in the Ohio Statehouse for many years, the collection has been under the care of the Ohio History Connection since 1971. In addition, the Ohio Army National Guard Historical Collections contain 328 flags, for a total of 882 flags. These flags were carried by Ohio units from the Mexican War through the Global War on Terrorism. It is one of the largest collections of flags in the country. To see images of the battle flag collection go to the Fight for the Colors online exhibit.

The unfurled flag being slid into the storage cabinet where it will be protected.

The unfurled flag being slid into the storage cabinet where it will be protected.

By Cliff Eckle, History Curator
Photography by Ty Pierce, Multimedia Coordinator

This entry was posted in Civil War, collections, Curators, Current News, Military History. Bookmark the permalink.

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