Civil War battle flag installation Monday at Capitol

For immediate release July 27, 2007

 

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa will rotate battle flags in the Capitol rotunda Monday, returning the 6th Iowa Infantry National flag to storage and putting the 10th Iowa Infantry Regimental flag on display.

The event will be at 11 a.m. in the Capitol rotunda. The public is invited and encouraged to attend and observe the rotation. For preservation concerns, the 6th Iowa Infantry will be stored in the State Historical Building’s Battle Flag laboratory and will not be available for public viewing for the next three to four years. The 10th Iowa Infantry is the first regimental flag to go on display at the Capitol after receiving full conservation treatment.

“The 360 battle flags in our collection not only carry the stories of the soldiers who fought under them, they also carry the history of Iowa,” said Cyndi Pederson, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “When we took possession of the flags several years ago, many of them were in extremely poor physical condition. We rotate them into exhibits as they are conserved and properly prepared for public display.”

The 10th Iowa is a standard Regimental Civil War flag. It is a blue silk flag, rectangular in shape, with gold silk fringe extending around three sides of the flag, excluding the hoist end. The flag is 71” high and 77” wide.

It is machine sewn with hand-painted images and stenciled letters. The field consists of two crescent shaped rows of 32 gold pigmented stars and soldiers snipped pieces of the decorative hand-painted eagle down the middle for souvenirs. The eagle’s out-stretched wings and talons clutching the olive branches and arrows are intact and the hand-painted banner below the eagle reads “Tenth Iowa Veterans.”

The 10th Iowa Infantry was organized and mustered into service August and September, 1861, from the counties of central Iowa. It was destined to see action in the Western theatre along the Mississippi River and into Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. It was commanded at the beginning by Colonel Nicholas Perczel of Davenport.

After mustering was completed at Camp Fremont near Iowa City, the regiment headed south into Missouri. Their first skirmish occurred at Charleston in southeastern Missouri when Confederates ambushed them on the march during a thunderstorm on January 8, 1862. Despite the ambush, the 10th Iowa dispersed the enemy with minimal casualties.

They settled into Charleston and did not see much action until near the end of the winter. In March, under the command of Brigadier General John Pope, the 10th Iowa joined the general campaign to take control of the Mississippi River.

Their first engagement in this campaign was the bombardment of New Madrid, which the Confederates evacuated on March 13. The following morning, the 10th Iowa was the first regiment to enter the town to find that the enemy “had left their suppers untouched, their candles burning in their tents.”

Shortly thereafter, the 10th Iowa saw action at Island No. 10, Iuka, and Corinth. The 10th Iowa went on to serve the Union cause at Vicksburg, Champion Hills, the Seige of Jackson and Missionary Ridge.

In June, 1864, the 10th Iowa was granted a month-long furlough due to its high re-enlistment rate.

During that furlough, its flags were turned in to the Iowa Adjutant General’s office. The Adjutant General turned them over to the Historical Society with the admonition that “…they (the flags) have been borne gallantly and I send them to you as sacred mementos of the men who have never faltered in the hour of danger. Preserve them faithfully.”

When the Adjutant General recalled the flags in 1868 to the State Arsenal, SHSI sent two regimental colors of the 10th Iowa, but retained the national flag.

After its furlough, the 10th Iowa was stationed near Kingston, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta. It participated in Sherman’s maneuvers that forced the Confederate evacuation from Atlanta at the end of August. The regiment also marched with Sherman to Savannah, into the Carolinas, and into Columbia. It eventually reached Washington, D.C. and marched in the Grand Review in May 1865. The 10th Iowa Infantry was mustered out of service in August 1865 at Little Rock.

One color bearer from the 10th Iowa Infantry has been identified: Sgt. Jacob W. Gower, Company C, of Toledo. Another color bearer was either Private Franklin Sanders, Company F, of Deep River or Corporal Franklin A. Sanders, Company I, of Independence.

Following is a summary of casualties and other statistics involving the 10th Iowa Infantry:

Total enrollment: 1319
Killed: 63
Wounded: 277
Died of wounds: 35
Died of disease: 135
Discharged for wounds, disease or other causes: 288
Buried in national cemeteries: 60
Captured: 17|
Transferred: 49

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at www.culturalaffairs.org.

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