The Conservation Process


7th IA Cavalry

7th Iowa Cavalry flag before

This flag belonged to the 7th IA Cavalry, a unit of 1600
men who served in the western Plains during the Civil
War. Years of display in the State Capitol rotunda left
the flag in need of extensive conservation to both stop
continued deterioration and to correct damage that had
already occurred. Iowa Battle Flag Project staff spent
6 months conserving this flag and preparing it for safe

7th Iowa Cavalry

The 7th IA Cavalry was organized in Davenport, Iowa in 1863, and served in the west including Nebraska, Kansas, Dakota, and Colorado. As troops serving in the west, they would have garrisoned posts, protected emigrants and telegraph lines, and engaged in fighting with bands of Native Americans. The 7th Cavalry were engaged at Whitestone Hill, Julesburg, Mud Springs, Tahkahokutah, Fort Cottonwood, Horse Creek, and Rush Creek. They mustered out in 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

Total Enrollment 1592
Killed 53
Wounded 18
Died of Wounds 2
Died of Disease 92
Discharged for wounds, disease or to other causes 267
Buried in National Cemeteries and Forts 30
Captured --
Transferred 9



Removal of Previous Treatments

In 1894 and 1904, this flag was covered with fine cotton gauze.
The brown, discolored fabric seen over the blue silk is what
remains of this previous conservation treatment. Iowa Battle
Flag Project conservators must remove this gauze stitch by stitch
before any other treatments can be completed.

Paint Consolidation

Over time, the painted areas of the flag have become very brittle,
and have fragmented into many pieces. These fragments must be
placed in their original locations and heat fused together with
an archival adhesive called BEVA-371 and Stabiltex, creating a
kind of “bandaid” for the individual pieces.

Fringe Reattachment

The fringe along three sides of this flag was extremely fragile and
had separated from the blue silk entirely in some areas. A Stabiltex
backing was added to the most fragile pieces, and the fringe was
reattached to the field of the flag, sewing through the original
construction holes, to prevent any further damage to the silk.



Conservation staff applied a controlled amount of moisture to
the silk and painted areas, and gently eased drapery lines and
creases with cotton blotting paper and glass weights, which were
placed on the flag and left to slowly flatten the silk.


Adding Stabiltex

With all other treatments completed, the flag must be encapsulated between two layers of a fabric called Stabiltex. Instead of sewing directly into the flag fabric, like previous treatments, conservators use a tacking iron to solder the edges of the Stabiltex, and sew around loose fragments.

Cavalry Flag?

After the removal of the previous conservation gauze, further
examination of the painted unit I.D. banner revealed something
unusual. If you look closely at the fly end side of the ID banner, you
can see that the red paint under CAVALRY is much brighter than the
rest of the banner. It is possible that this flag was not originally
a cavalry flag, and that this section of the unit I.D. banner was
painted over. The large size of the flag also lends to the theory that this flag may have been a recycled infantry flag. Typically cavalry flags are much smaller to allow the flag bearer to carry it while on horseback.