Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

New Web Site for Pennsylvania Civil War Flags

Posted By on November 23, 2013


Recently, an e-mail was received from Jason Wilson, Historian at the Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, informing The Civil War Blog of a new stand-alone site for Pennsylvania’s Civil War Flags.  The site is more user-friendly and searchable than the previous web pages which were part of the Capitol Preservation Committee web site.

Go directly to the web site by clicking on the banner above, or by using the URL www.pacivilwarflags.org.

For the most part, this stand-alone site is a great improvement over the previous site which was difficult to use and much less user-friendly. The flag images are easily located in sets of thumbnails (pull-down menu, “Regiments”).  For example, by clicking on the thumbnail for the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, a page appears with a set of three flags.  The three flags pictured include the First and Second State Colors and the Regimental Flag, along with a description of the regiment including the counties from which the regiment was recruited.  By clicking on the flag, a high resolution image of the flag appears.  On the high resolution image, there is a “PA CPC” watermark.  The watermark does not appear on the low resolution images.

There is a list of Pennsylvania’s Civil War Color Bearers.


Jason Wilson is also collecting stories of the Color Bearers and these stories will appear on the web site. It is an ambitious project to collect the stories of all “340,000 men who served the Commonwealth during the Civil War” as the web page states.  Limiting the project to just the Color Bearers might be a more achievable goal.  There are many current research endeavors conducted by individuals and groups that seek to document the Civil War service of men who served in a particular regiment or company, men who fought in a particular battle, or men who had geographic ties to a particular part of the state – this Civil War Research Project included which covers the upper townships of Dauphin County, the lower townships of Northumberland County, and the western townships of Schuylkill County.  Within these projects there is a great deal of information, numerous stories, pictures of the soldiers, etc.  At present, there is no coordination of these projects nor is there any known comprehensive “bibliography”.

Another feature of the web site is the history of the “Save the Flags Project.”  Conservation methods, preservation and storage are discussed on this page.  Sponsorship of flags (providing funds for conservation) is presented on a page entitled “Continued Preservation” and information on donation is provided on a page entitled “Make a Donation.”  For this latter effort, a phone number and address are provided, but there is no link for making a donation on-line (such as through PayPal) nor is there an e-mail address on the page.  It might be helpful to add both to the web page.

Free tours may also be scheduled through the new web site.

There is a print catalog and order form available which contains art images of portraits of Pennsylvania’s governors as well as other art work at the Pennsylvania Capitol, but at present, there does not appear to be a way to order prints of the flags through this general catalog.  There does not appear to be any clear way to order prints of the flags – except by sending an inquiry to the Capitol Preservation Committee via Jason Wilson.

The photographic rights of the images on the site are protected by copyright law, but the statement on the site does indicate that “Fair Use” is permitted for “non-commercial educational purposes” which includes “teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary and news reporting.”  Permission need not be obtained in advance for “Fair Use” of the images, but users are requested to cite the web site of the Capitol Preservation Committee (http://cpc.state.pa.us) as the source of the images.  However, commercial use of the images with prior permission or payment of required fees is prohibited.

Finally, a section titled “Donate a Flag” encourages site visitors to add to the collection of the Capitol Preservation Committee.  As stated on the page, three flags have been donated over the last fifteen years.


In the collection of the Civil War Research Project, one news article has been located which tells of a 1921 donation of two flags and one guidon, all of the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry.  That article appeared in the Harrisburg Patriot on 9 August 1921, and is filed under Col. John Page Nicholson, who after the war became superintendent of the Gettysburg Park:



Governor Sproul yesterday received two flags and one guidon, carried during part of the Civil War by the 28th Infantry, Colonel John W. Geary, commanding, from Col. John P. Nicholson, superintendent of the Gettysburg Park.  They were turned over to deputy Superintendent Rambo, of the Department of Public Grounds and Buildings, and will be placed in the glass cases at the Capitol containing other war flags.

Colonel Nicholson said in turning the flags over that owing to a misunderstanding between Governor Curtin and Governor Geary, the 28th left Philadelphia 20 July 1861, without colors.  Citizens of Philadelphia, whose sons were in the regiment, furnished the flags and the guidon.

These were carried by the regiment from October 1861 to October 1862 when the State furnished colors for the regiment.  They went through various skirmishes and the Battle of Antietam where 236 officers and men of the regiment met death.  The flags later disappeared and Colonel Nicholson explained, they only recently had been recovered.


The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


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