34-Star Civil War Flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by raoul_duke, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. raoul_duke

    raoul_duke New Member

    I sure would like to hear some comments from the experts about my 34-star flag which has been passed down to me.
    It is approximately 16 X 23" and in pretty okay??? condition for a flag over 150 years old.
    I'm intrigued by the size and the alignment of the stars. The other 34 stars flags I have seen seem to have so many different patterns. I have enjoyed the conversations with the many friends that have seen it. I would like to have some idea about what it would be worth on the flag market today.
    I have attached several photos. Thanks for any help.

    Attached Files:

  2. flagcollector

    flagcollector New Member


    Thanks for posting photos of your flag to the forum, I can tell you more about it. First your flag is an authentic Civil War period flag. It dates to 1861-1863, the opening years of the Civil War. The flag is made of wool bunting material, possibly blended with some cotton, and it was produced using a press-dying process where the color was pressed onto the flag material in a printing-like process. This particular type of flag is known as a "Camp Color", and it was an official flag used by the Union Army during the Civil War. Camp Colors are the smallest official military Stars and Stripes format flag used on the battlefield. These were typically placed on wooden staffs, often with metal spearhead-tipped flag pole toppers on the top end, and were emplaced outside the tents and camps of Union Company-sized units, often outside of the commander's tent. Unlike parade flags of the era, which were made to be small hand wavers made of thin cotton muslin and not intended to last, the wool material stood up well to the elements and was made for use in the field. The wear on your flag is good evidence that the flag was in fact used and flown. I would think that if the flag descended in your family, you might be able to look back in your family records and perhaps identify who may have kept it, if any of your family served in that war. The pattern of stars on Camp Colors varies, and they're quite quirky. These kinds of flags were typically made under Government contract, but the manufacturers seem to have been free in their decision on the patterns of stars. Yours, with the additional space in the top left, and the change in the tilt of the stars in the bottom two rows, is unusual but I believe I've seen exactly this pattern before. Though it's not definite that your flag was used in this way, it is very possible that it was.

    You can see and read more about one definitive Camp Color in the Rare Flags collection:

    Rare Flags - Antique American Flags, Historic American Flags

    and this other example, which is likely an early Camp Color that was used and captured by Confederate forces in Newburg, Indiana:

    Rare Flags - Antique American Flags, Historic American Flags

    To see what I mean about quirky designs for these, also see these links to Camp Colors in the New York State Collection:

    5th NY Regiment Battle Flag - NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center
    14th Regiment Artillery (Heavy), New York Volunteers, Battle Flag - NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Centers
    54th Regiment NY Volunteer Infantry Battle Flag - NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center
    59th NY Regiment Battle Flag - NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center
    146th NY Regiment Battle Flag Early Civil War- NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center
    146th NY Regiment Battle Flag Late Civil War - NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center

    It's a special flag and I'm glad you and your friends enjoy it. I hope the information above helps enrich the story of your flag even more.


    Anthony Iasso
  3. flagcollector

    flagcollector New Member


    As a follow up, I found the example that matches yours which I had seen before.

    34-Star Printed U.S. National Parade Flag, - Cowan's Auctions

    I don't believe it's a Parade Flag, though, as Cowan's Auctions states. It's form and material, and knowing other examples of similar form and type that are definitely made and used as Civil War Camp Colors, is good evidence this was the purpose of this kind of flag.

  4. raoul_duke

    raoul_duke New Member

    Thanks for all the information and the help. It truly is cool learning the history and background of the flag. Just the understanding that it is civil war flag makes it a fun conversation piece at parties.

    Thank You Very Much
  5. AmericaHurrah

    AmericaHurrah Member

    Hi. Here is a description of your flag:


    34 star American national flag, printed on a wool and cotton blend. The star configuration, which leaves a single star missing from the top row, is very unusual for this time period. Called a “notchedâ€￾ design, the blank space leaves little doubt that the maker of the flag assumed that West Virginia might soon break free from Virginia (which occurred in 1863), or that another Western Territory would soon acquire statehood.

    The first 3 rows of stars are tilted to the 1:00 position, while the last two rows tilt to 11:00. This is yet another unusual feature that I have only seen on this particular style of 34 star flag, of which a handful of examples are known to exist.

    It is likely that this variety was produced as a military camp colors, used to mark Union Army encampments. The size and proportions are very close to that of other identified flags used for that purpose. Wool content made outdoor use flags more durable than those produced of silk or cotton. Wool sheds water and was the best storm-worthy fabric available for flag-making in the 19th century. First patented in 1849, the press-dyeing process was eventually used in the making of flags for private use, but its initial purpose seems to have been for U.S. military, ground-force colors and naval ensigns.

    Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about 2 ½ months before the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter that marked the beginning of the Civil War. The 34th star was officially added on July 4th of that year, but most flag makers would have added a 34th star with the addition of Kansas in January. The star count remained official until July 4th, 1863, and 34 star flags would have generally been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

    I have owned a number of them in this exact style. I don't know of any in state collections like it.

    You'd probably find a few in the sold section of my website, but here is one that I have presently:


    Warm Regards,

    Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques
    Jeff Bridgman American Antiques and Antique American Flags
  6. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

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