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
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
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
to What's New Section