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  13 STAR FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD (1861-1865), WITH A CIRCULAR VERSION OF WHAT IS KNOWN AS THE 3RD MARYLAND PATTERN AND WITH EXCEPTIONALLY ENDEARING GRAPHIC QUALITIES FROM HAVING BEEN EXTENSIVELY FLOWN, PERHAPS AS A BATTLE FLAG OR TO MARK A SITE IN THE RECRUITMENT OF SOLDIERS

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 62" x 110"
Flag Size (H x L): 48.25" x 96.75
Description....:
13 star American flag, made during the Civil War period (1861-1865), with extraordinary and almost ghostly presentation, resulting from both the sheer nature of its loosely woven wool bunting fabric and extensive use. While many flags may have been flown until they looked this way, the number that survive today is miniscule. Most that reached this point were apparently discarded.

The stars are arranged in a wreath of 12 with a single star in the center. This basic configuration, whether oval or circular, has come to be known as the 3rd Maryland Pattern. Note the size of the stars themselves, which display both irregular profiles and exceptionally pointy arms. Oriented in various positions on their vertical axis, these overlap each other’s space so that they fit together in a tight circle. The result has great folk qualities that further compound the visual weight of its worn and tattered appearance.

While Union Army battle flags were near to square, at 6 x 6.5 feet, there were thousands and thousands of volunteer units and all did not carry regulation colors at all times. Some carried flags made for them by family members, or ordered and donated by local individuals. These especially could deviate from expected proportions. Yet another possibility is that the flag was used in the recruitment of Civil War soldiers. In this light it conforms more closely to a regulation format. Regulation recruitment flags measured 4.5 x 9.5 feet, which is unusually elongated by modern standards for American national flags. At approximately 4 x 8 feet, this flag does follow the same general style and is close in scale. Whatever the case may be, I believe that a military function was likely given the amount of wear, the fact that it was saved at all, instead of discarded, and its origin. This particular flag was at one time donated to Reverend W. Herbert Burke, D.D., who founded the Valley Forge Historical Society. The flag was taken in with a note that simply read: “Civil War flag brought in by Dr. Hart. Will get data on it later.” Because the focus of the Valley Forge Historical Society was the Revolutionary War, not the Civil War, it was later decommissioned. The note supports the date I would have placed on the flag based upon its materials, construction, and other various factors.

13 star flags have been flown throughout our nation’s history for a variety of purposes. They were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1824-25, the celebration of the centennial of American independence in 1876, and the sesquicentennial in 1926. They were displayed during the Civil War, to reference past struggles for liberty and victory over oppression, and were used by 19th century politicians while campaigning for the same reason.

The name 3rd Maryland comes from a flag that resides at the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis, long thought to have been present with General Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. According to legend, the flag was supposed to have been carried by Color Sergeant William Batchelor of the Maryland Light Infantry and was donated to the State of Maryland by Batchelor's descendants. The story was disproved in the 1970's, however, following an examination by the late flag expert Grace Rogers Cooper of the Smithsonian. She discovered that the Cowpens flag was, at the earliest, of Mexican War vintage (1846-48).

Since there was no official star configuration until the 20th century (1912 specifically, beginning with the 48 star count), the stars on 13 star flags may appear in any one of a host of configurations. The 3rd Maryland pattern is appreciated both for its visual appeal and the general scarcity of its use. The name comes from a flag that resides at the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis, long thought to have been present with General Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. According to legend, the flag was supposed to have been carried by Color Sergeant William Batchelor of the 3rd Maryland Light Infantry and was donated to the State of Maryland by Batchelor's descendants. The story was disproved in the 1970's, however, following an examination by the late flag expert Grace Rogers Cooper of the Smithsonian, who discovered that the Cowpens flag was, at the earliest, of Mexican War vintage (1846-48).

Despite the lack of direct association with the reputed regiment, many flag collectors and enthusiasts embraced the name "3rd Maryland" and it stuck to the design. The term actually received some legitimacy through the existence of a similar flag, in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History & Technology, with verified Maryland provenance. This was carried by the Maryland and District of Columbia Battalion of Volunteers during the Mexican War. While the configuration is known to be an early one, as evidenced by 18th century illustrations, this star pattern is most often encountered among surviving flags that date to the mid-19th century, roughly within the Mexican War to Civil War time frame (1846-1865). For some reason it seems to have not been quite as popular during our nation's 100-year anniversary, in 1876, but some examples of that period are known. It was also revived in small scale, commercially-produced flags during the 1890-1920's time frame.

Construction: The stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and single-appliqued. I always find single-appliquéd stars more interesting, not only because they are evidence of a more difficult level of seam-work and stitching, but also because they are more visually intriguing. Both the sewing itself and stretching of the fabrics over time results in stars that tend to have irregular shapes and interesting presentation, which is certainly the case here. This is why flags with single-appliquéd stars often appeal to connoisseurs of early American textiles. The two visible rows of hand-stitching emphasize their hand-sewn construction and the nature of the technique leads to elevates folk qualities.

The canton of the flag and the stripes are made of wool bunting that has been joined with treadle stitching. There was a coarsely woven binding along the hoist originally, probably a blend of linen and hemp, with two hand-sewn, whip-stitched grommets. This broke down and was carefully repaired with a cotton underlay. Repair of a hoist binding in this manner is rarely encountered and interesting to see.

Provenance: In addition to having been previously among the holdings of the Valley Forge Historical Society, this flag was exhibited from June 14th – July 21st at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, in an exhibit entitled “A New Constellation,” curated by Jeff Bridgman. This was the first ever large scale exhibit of 13 star examples at a major museum.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding, with a wide ogee profile and a rippled inner lip. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to inquire for more details.

Condition: There is substantial loss throughout from obvious extended use, particularly at the fly end, along the lower edge, and in the bottom hoist-end corner of the canton. There are a number of darned repairs in both the stripes and canton. The hoist binding was repaired, as mentioned above. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. This one displays exceptionally because of it.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1865
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
 

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