Historical Society to rotate battle flags in Capitol Building Tuesday
First time public will see Civil War "Elson Flag" since 1890s

For immediate release October 29, 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 State Capitol Building Tuesday, returning the 10th Iowa Infantry Regimental Flag to storage and putting the 9th Iowa Infantry, National, on display.

The event will be at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. The public is invited and encouraged to attend and observe the rotation. For preservation concerns, the 10th Iowa Infantry Regimental Flag 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 was the first regimental flag to go on display at the Capitol after receiving full conservation treatment.

Many of the 260 battle flags in SHSI’s collection carry bullet holes and the blood of the soldiers who fought under them. Many of the flags were in extremely poor physical condition when SHSI took possession of them several years ago. Museum conservators rotate the flags into exhibits as they are conserved and properly prepared for public display.

The 9th Iowa, also known as the “Elson Flag,” underwent 16 months of conservation treatment. The flag was given to the 9th Iowa Infantry from the Ladies of Boston on July 10, 1862 as a “token of our grateful admiration for the valor and heroism displayed by you on the memorable field of Pea Ridge.”

The “Elson Flag” is also a Medal of Honor flag – Sgt. James Elson was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his gallant stand on the edge of Vicksburg. Sgt. Elson’s descendent, John Elson of Iowa City, has been invited to attend the rotation Tuesday, when it will be seen by the public for the first time since the 1890s.

The “Elson Flag” will be on display at the Capitol Building through Dec. 30, 2007.

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.

Postscript: The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Charles H. Huntley, Camp # 114, honorably carried the 9th Iowa into the Capitol and placed her in the rotunda alcove.  Several other re-enactors were in attendance to pay homage to the 9th Iowa as well.


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