Reproducing the Flags of the
64th Illinois Volunteer Infantry
I’m happy to report to you that the new National Flag is coming along and, although not finished, will be ready for the Naperville event.
With the current state of our country, more and more people are interested in our National Flag. It has come to be a source of pride and a reassuring symbol of comfort. It has been a long time since our flag has been revered in this manner and we should expect questions from the public on it.
The quest for the new flag caused a number of members to learn about flags and flag makers during the war than any of us had anticipated. We feel that the membership may be interested in this information we’ve pooled, if for no reason than it will provide them with tidbits to pass on to the public.
Before the war, all flags that were issued by the Federal Government were made at the Sckukill Clothing Dept. at Philadelphia. After the war started, this depot was soon overwhelmed and depots in New York and Cincinnati were charged with supplying flags as well. At the start of service for many units some states and towns sent their sons and fathers off to war with flags of their own manufacture. This was the case of the 64th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, then known as “1st Battalion, Yates Sharp Shooters.”
When the unit decided to replace our torn and tattered National Flag, we felt that a late war flag showing all the battle honors would best serve our living history presentation. The flag we now have is close to the first issued flag before being designated the 64th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The flag we are now making is a reproduction of a second issue that we have a description of, even though the flag is missing, from inventory in Springfield.
We are not sure if the missing flag was a Cincinnati or Philadelphia issue so we choose the Philadelphia as the evidence points to this flag. With some luck, the original flag may be found and returned to its place of honor with the rest. The design was not chosen lightly as the flags from the Philadelphia were all hand stitched [other depot flags allowed machine sewing].
All the battle honors we are including on our new flag are listed on the description of the original flag with the exception of Bentonville. The flag was issued before that battle honor was awarded so we are taking the liberty of including it in ours.
We hope this information will be of some interest and with luck we can all enjoy this flag as much as I’ve enjoyed making it. My thanks go to John Thurston for his excellent research on the history of our unit’s flag including a trip to Springfield for some close research.
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