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While the star patterns of 19th century American flags can vary greatly from the common modern convention of stars in rows, among the rarest are those with random placement and orientation of the stars. There are just a small handful of pieced-and-sewn examples that exist, and also a very few examples of printed flags with random star patterns, such as this one. This particular flag is one of just four or five examples of the type known. A similar example of this type features 36 stars, while the other handful of known examples features 35 stars like this flag. Rather than being printed on cotton muslin like typical parade flags of the Civil War era, these flags are printed on fine wool bunting, which is made for prolonged use outdoors. Most, if not all, of these kinds of press-dyed printed wool bunting flags from the Civil War period were made for the purpose of being used as a "Camp Color" which is the smallest regulation flag carried and used during the war. While these random-pattern wool flags are slightly longer than the various Camp Color flags present in collections such as the New York State Museum, it is also likely that this flag and others like it were intended to be used as Camp Colors. Camp Colors were flown on a staff outside of the tent or quarters of a Union Army officer to denote their presence in camp. This flag was found in West Virginia, which was the 35th State, separating from Virginia during he war and entering the Union as a free state. A white silk strip was affixed to the hoist end of the flag, and a red silk strip, now in part worn away, was affixed to the fly end of the flag. It's clear from the wear pattern of the flag that it was flown for some period of time, but the colors of the flag are beautiful and vibrant, with cream colored white stripes, deep scarlet red stripes, and a rich indigo blue canton. This is a fine example of a very scarce and beautiful Civil War period flag.

Click here to see a gallery of Civil War Era Flags. Star Count: 35

Date: 1863-1865

Era: Civil War

Statehood: West Virginia

Construction: Press-Dyed Wool

Catalog Number: IAS-00444


35 Star American Flag
Civil War Great Star Pattern

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