Two More Iowa Civil War Battle Flags Now on Display at State Historical Museum

For immediate release July 22, 2004



Sarah Oltrogge, 515-281-4011

Des Moines, Iowa—Two more of Iowa’s Civil War Battle Flags have been placed on display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa after undergoing months of conservation work. The flags are now available for viewing in the "Honor the Colors: Iowa’s Civil War Battle Flags" exhibit, open through 2006.

The first is a Southern Rights flag, one that was handmade and discovered in the aftermath of the Battle of Athens (Mo.), apparently discarded in the Confederate retreat. The flag is constructed in the pattern of the 1st National flag of the Confederacy, also known as the "Stars and Bars," which was adopted on March 4, 1861. Preserved by David Beaman of Croton, the flag was donated to the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1901. Regretfully, a large portion of the flag was taken as souvenirs of the battle.

The second flag to be placed on display is that of Company B, 1st Iowa Infantry. In August 1861, Confederate forces from Missouri, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas and the Mounted Rifles (cavalry) from the Cherokee Nation moved to secure Missouri as a Confederate state. On Aug. 10, 1861, just four days before this Iowa regiment was to be mustered out, Gen. Nathaniel S. Lyon attacked the Confederate forces at Wilson Creek. The 1st Iowa Infantry’s casualties at Wilson’s Creek were 18 killed, 136 wounded, and four missing. Although this battle was a Confederate victory, it demonstrated to Iowa the ability of its soldiers, who held their own against 2-to-1 odds.

The flag of Company B, 1st Iowa Infantry is a handmade silk that measure 35"x70" including the fringe. The red stripes have faded, but the blue canton remains bright and holds 33 painted gold stars. A red ribbon states, "SPRINGFIELD 1st REGIMENT IOWA INFANTRY: COMPANY B" and a red, white, and blue cord with tassels of cotton and silk thread. It is unknown when the flag was presented to the State Historical Society.

"The preservation of these flags is vitally important to understanding Iowa’s role in the Civil War," said exhibit curator Bill Johnson. "Each one tells its own unique stories and brings the past alive for the public."

Restored Battle Flag Returns to State Capitol

The 1st Iowa Regiment of African Decent Civil War Battle Flag has returned to its home in the northeast alcove of the State Capitol, after undergoing more than a year of conservation work.

On Jan. 23, 2002, this flag and 24 others were removed from the alcove after having hung and deteriorated for almost 100 years.

The flag is from the 1st Regiment of Iowa African Infantry, which was organized in 1863 and reorganized as the 60th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops on March 11, 1864. They participated in action at Wallace's Ferry, Big Creek, Arkansas, July 26, 1864.

As part of the Battle Flag Preservation Project, the flag cases at the State Capitol have been renovated with new flooring, new doors, lighting and HVAC systems and sensors to provide security and climactic controls needed for the flags to be safely exhibited.

Funds to restore the Civil War battle flags are provided by the Iowa Legislature and private donations. In October, 2002, the State Historical Society of Iowa received a $144,000 Save America's Treasures grant to help fund the Iowa Battle Flag Preservation Project. Save America's Treasures is a national effort to protect America's threatened cultural treasures, including historic structures, collections, works of art, and maps and journals that document and illuminate the history and culture of the United States.

Depending on its condition, one flag can cost between $8,000 and $30,000 to stabilize and preserve. Donations toward this project are appreciated can be sent to: The State Historical Society of Iowa, 600 E. Locust, Des Moines, IA 50319.

For complete information about the Iowa Battle Flag Preservation Project, visit


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