The Civil War Flags Collection

The Civil War Flags Collection consists of more than 800 silk and cotton flags, many of which are adorned with battle damage, bloodstains and in-the-field repairs. Some are small, like the miniature flag a Missouri woman sewed into the hem of her dress; others are 12 feet long, as in a naval flag that shows Pocahontas standing proudly on the Virginia state seal.Check this

When Congress transferred the museum’s collection to the State in 1866, it was already well-worn. The fabric had been stored in the state arsenal in Harrisburg, Hill’s Capitol Museum, and the Executive, Library and Museum Building before being moved to the rotunda in 1914. The collection was exhibited and accessed by the general public, as well as historians and aficionados of the Civil War.

But years of temperature, humidity and sunlight fluctuations took their toll on the collection. In addition, the large cases in which they were kept – and often tightly rolled or furled around wooden staves – made them more vulnerable to damage.

Civil War Flags Collection: Remembering a Divided Nation

The museum has since begun conserving the flags, rather than restoring them to their original appearance. Conservation is different from restoration; it preserves the original artifact, while interpreting its history for future generations. The result is a more authentic display, complete with frays and bullet holes that will tell the story of how these textiles survived the Civil War. A companion catalogue, The Civil War Flags of Tennessee, has been published by the university’s Center for Historic Preservation to accompany the exhibition. The book serves as a hybrid guidebook and chronicle of the history behind each flag, a testament to those who stitched them, the regiments that bore them and the men who sacrificed for their cause.

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