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This beautiful parade flag commemorates the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment and its involvement in four of the most significant battles of the American Civil War.   The 71st, known as "The American Guard", mustered into service between June 20th and July 18,1861 for a three year term.  Among the many battles the unit heroically participated in are: Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. The unit was recalled to New York City and was eventually mustered out of service in at the end of its three year term on July 30, 1864.  This flag likely dates period circa 1880 to 1915, though it presents 35 stars, which were official at the time the unit disbanded in 1864 but which predate the end of the war in 1865.  The double medallion consists of 31 stars with four corner stars, and its configuration is striking compared to other medallion flags of the period because of the absence of a center star.  One of the most unusual aspects of this rare flag is the high quality of the printing and fineness of the fabric used in its construction.  Most parade flags of this era were made of coarse cotton muslin and of inferior quality to this flag. Only a handful of these flags have surfaced, and I'm aware of only two others.  Overall, the flag, made for the veterans of one of the hardest fighting regiments of the Civil War, remains among the most beautiful and historically significant printed parade flags known.

The illustrious history of the unit is as follows:

  "The 71st, the 2nd regiment of the Excelsior brigade, composed of companies from New York city, Olean, Great Valley, Colchester and Kingston, N. Y., Newark and Orange, N. J., and Philadelphia, Pa., was mustered into the service of the United States at Camp Scott, Staten island, June 20 to July 18, 1861, for a three years' term. It left the state for Washington on July 23; served for a time in the vicinity of the city; was attached to Sickles' brigade, Hooker's division; performed guard duty along the Potomac, and in the advance under McClellan was part of the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 3d corps. It was on trench and picket duty before Yorktown; was present at the battle of Fair Oaks, and lost 118 killed, wounded and missing during the Seven Days' battles. It left the Peninsula to go to the support of Gen. Pope at Manassas and at Kettle Run, Groveton and in the battle of Bull Run (second) lost 114 out of 250 engaged. During the Maryland campaign the regiment was stationed in the vicinity of Washington and marched to Falmouth in November, arriving in time to participate in the battle of Fredericksburg, but did not occupy an exposed position. Winter quarters were established at Falmouth and camp was broken late in April, 1863, for the Chancellorsville campaign, in which the regiment took a prominent part. After returning to camp at Falmouth for a short time, it marched to Gettysburg and there participated in the thick of the fighting with a loss of 91 killed, wounded or missing. It was also engaged in the encounters at Wapping heights, Kelly's ford, in the Mine Run fiasco, and after a comparatively uneventful winter in camp near Brandy Station, Va., entered upon the Wilderness campaign in the 2nd brigade, 4th division, 2nd corps. It was transferred May 13, to the 4th brigade, 3d division, 2nd corps, with which it served until the expiration of its term of enlistment. The regiment was repeatedly in action through the month of May, at the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, the North Anna, Totopotomy, Cold Harbor and Petersburg, and was mustered out at New York city, July 30, 1864, the veterans and recruits being transferred to the 120th N. Y. infantry. It lost during service 94 by death from wounds and 74 from other causes."1  

1The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II.


Learn more about the presence of writing on American flags. Star Count:  35

Dates:  Circa 1880-1915

War Era:  Civil War

Statehood:  West Virginia

Construction:  Printed Heavy-Gauge Cotton

Catalog Number:  IAS-00229


13 Stars in a Rare
4-5-4 Pattern, c1890

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