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  48 STARS ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG MADE FOR USE BY CIVIL WAR VETERANS AT THE 50-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG, WITH A RELATIONSHIP TO THE STORY OF JACK SKELLY & GINNIE WADE

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 14" x 9.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 2.25" x 4" on an 8.25" staff
Description....:
48 star American parade flag, printed on glazed cotton and retaining its original staff. The flag bears an overprint in black that reads:

1863 – 1913
Compliments of
Skelly Post #9
Penna. Dept. G.A.R

Parade flags with overprinted text are generally rare and highly collected. This one served as a souvenir for the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg, 1913, when a great celebration was held. This was the first major “Blue & Grey” reunion, when men from both the North and the South came together in great numbers to honor the fallen.

The G.A.R., or Grand Army of the Republic, was the primary association for Civil War veterans of the Union Army. Similar to today’s American Legion or V.F.W., it was a benevolent and social organization, but more fraternal in nature. Founded in 1866, the G.A.R. was among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, appealing for voting rights for black veterans, providing patriotic education, lobbying the United States Congress to establish regular veterans' pensions, and supporting Republican Party candidates. The G.A.R. was instrumental in making Memorial Day a national holiday. Membership peaked in 1890, at approximately 410,000 members.

Skelly Post was the name given by local founding members to Gettysburg’s own G.A.R. chapter. The story of the soldier for whom it is named is an unusual one that will continue to be told for centuries in the town that hosted the most famous of all Civil War battles.

Corporal Johnston “Jack” Hastings Skelly enlisted at Harrisburg on April 20th, 1861, mustering into “E” Company of the 2nd Pennsylvania Infantry (a 3-month unit). Re-enlisting with the 87th Infantry on September 25th of that year, Jack is said to have been engaged to marry a woman by the name of Jennie Wade (a.k.a, Gin or Ginnie). Both were residents of Gettysburg. As Jennie’s father had worked for Jack’s, the two had grown up together and were close childhood friends.

With Confederate forces situated on the north side of town, and Union to the south, some civilians found themselves caught in-between. Fearing for their safety, Jennie, her younger brother, and another young boy, a family friend, abandoned Jennie’s home to take up temporary residence at the home of her sister, Georgia, who had just given birth. Their mother was spending much time there, so they could look after each other, and the location was thought to be safer.

When the melee began, numerous bullets struck the house. When Jennie was tragically killed by a stray, sniper’s bullet on July 3rd, 1863, she became the only civilian to be killed in the battle. So it is told, she had been standing in the kitchen, baking bread. Jennie would never learn that Jack had actually been mortally wounded about two-and-a-half weeks prior, on June 15th, at the Second Battle of Winchester, Virginia. Before he passed, Jack sent a letter to Jennie with a mutual friend, Wesley Culp, also of Gettysburg, who had traveled to Harper’s Ferry in April of 1861 and, on the exact same day as Jack, enlisted with a Confederate unit. In the summer of 1863, Culp had actually arrived in Gettysburg with Confederate forces as part of “B” Company of the 2nd Virginia Infantry. He was killed on Culp’s Hill on the same day as Jennie, within sight of the family farm, and the letter was never delivered.

Jack and Jennie were buried together at Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery. Founding members of the Gettysburg G.A.R. bestowed their post with Jack’s name. The beautiful building still stands and today the Jennie Wade House is a major Gettysburg attraction, open for visitors.

Two varieties of flags are known with this overprint. This one displays 48 stars, arranged in staggered rows. The other is a 13 star variety, made for the 1876 centennial, that seems to have been in long supply many years later.

Arizona joined the Union as the 48th state in 1912. The 48th star was officially added on July 4th of that year and the star count remained official until Alaska joined the Union in 1959. In 1912, President Howard Taft wrote an executive order that dictated, for the first time, an official star pattern for the American national flag. This consisted of 6 justified rows of 8 stars. 48 star flags with something other than this configuration—like the one that is the subject of this narrative—tend to be encountered between 1912 and WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-1918). On occasion they may even be seen before the 48th state had actually joined the Union, made in anticipation of the event.

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 extraordinary, 2-part molding is constructed of wood, but has a finish that presents like antique iron. The background fabric is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There is minor fading, but there are no serious condition issues.
Collector Level: Beginners and Holiday Gift Giving
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 48
Earliest Date of Origin: 1913
Latest Date of Origin: 1913
State/Affiliation: Pennsylvania
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
 

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