December 08, 2008
For Release: Immediate
Exhibition highlights conservation of New York State's Civil War battle flags collection
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today announced the opening of the "Chattanooga Colors" exhibition commemorating the 145th anniversary of the Civil War battles of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The flag exhibit will be on view in the New York State Capitol in Albany through September 2009.
"Each flag serves as a silent testimonial to the valor and sacrifice displayed during the struggle to liberate Chattanooga – the ‘Gateway to the South' – and the fierce pride the participants felt in their state and nation," Ash said. "Preserving and showcasing these tangible reminders of their courage is a fitting way to honor their service."
"Chattanooga Colors" is the ninth installment in the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project Capitol exhibition series, which highlights the ongoing collaboration between the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs to preserve and properly store the state's 1,900 battle flags. Many of the 850 Civil War flags in the state's battle flag collection incurred damage in battle. At the end of the war, the flags were furled on their staffs and placed in glass cases in the Capitol. Nearly a century and a half of poor storage subjected the flags to the harmful effects of humidity, light, gravity, and temperature variance.
"These flags are an important part of New York's military heritage. Men fought and died under these flags and I'm happy to see them properly preserved and displayed so the New Yorkers of today can learn something about New York's Soldiers of yesterday," said Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General of New York.
"When most New Yorkers are asked to name a Civil War battle names such as Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Antietam - battles in the Eastern Theatre are likely to be mentioned," said Michael Aikey, the director of the New York State Military Museum & Veterans Research Center. "Our new exhibit, ‘Chattenooga Colors,' is meant to remind us that New Yorkers fought with their flags in all of the major battles of the Civil War, from Pennsylvania to Florida and from the Carolinas to the campaigns along the Mississippi River. Throughout our history, where service and duty required, New Yorkers have followed their state and country's colors and served with distinction."
The exhibit showcases six battle flags carried by volunteer regiments from throughout the State of New York that served during the battles for Chattanooga, Tennessee, and includes a small Unites States flag made by a group of women in eastern Tennessee who concealed the banner in a tea pot to prevent its capture by the Confederates. Flags carried by the 60th Infantry, 136th Infantry, 137th Infantry, 143rd Infantry, 154th Infantry and Battery I, 1st Artillery are included in the exhibit. Over 3,700 citizen soldiers followed their colors to faraway battles in Tennessee.
Each flag within "Chattanooga Colors" has been conserved and prepared for exhibition at State Parks' Peebles Island Resource Center as part of the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project. Since 2000, the Flag Project has conserved and properly stored over 500 flags carried into battle by New York State regiments. The New York State Military Museum in the Saratoga Springs Armory is the permanent home of New York's battle flag collection.
Visit www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/btlflags/btlflagsindex.htm for more information on the state's battle flags collection.