During the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 12, 1864, a Union soldier ripped the battle flag of the 1st Regiment North Carolina State Troops from its staff during hand-to-hand combat with the color-bearer. The flag's missing left border attests to the ferocious fighting in the Virginia battle.
This historic banner is part of the Confederate flag collection, one of the
nation's largest, at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.
Conservation of these banners requires expensive, specialized textile
treatment. To help fund this need, the museum has formed a partnership with the
26th Regiment North Carolina Troops, Reactivated, the state's largest Civil War
During a Jan. 19 presentation at the Museum of History, the 26th Regiment
unveiled the newly conserved colors of the 1st Regiment North Carolina State
Troops. This represents the seventh flag the organization has helped conserve
for the museum.
"This flag is a silent witness of one of the most horrific days of battle
in the Civil War, but it has not been seen by the public for nearly 100
years," said Jackson Marshall, Associate Director of the Museum of History.
"Once again, the museum owes a debt of gratitude to the 26th Regiment
members for donating the funds needed to conserve and exhibit the flag."
Organized in Warrenton, the 1st Regiment participated in many of the major
engagements fought by the Army of Northern Virginia. The regiment suffered
enormous casualties at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. During the
fighting, Pvt. George W. Harris of the Pennsylvania Volunteers seized the 1st
Regiment's battle flag carried by color-bearer Sgt. John Reams of Northampton
County. Harris received a Medal of Honor for his deed - Reams was captured and
imprisoned in Maryland and New York until he was paroled when the war ended.
The 1st Regiment's flag was sent to the U.S. War Department in Washington, D.C.
It was returned to North Carolina in 1905 and generally kept in a storage vault
"The 26th Regiment is proud to work with the Museum of History in its
conservation efforts, and we look forward to continuing this partnership far
into the future," noted Skip Smith, Colonel of the 26th Regiment. "We
encourage all North Carolinians to support the museum and to share our state's
history with their children."
The Museum of History plans to feature the 1st Regiment flag in the exhibit
gallery A Call to Arms as part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration.
Adds Smith, "We hope that descendants of the 1st Regiment will come see
their ancestors' battle flag when it is in the exhibit."
Susan Friday Lamb
Public Information Officer
North Carolina Museum of History