Historic Civil War Flag Found

Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by csaanv, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. csaanv

    csaanv Member


    MEADVILLE — The flag carried by Company I during the Civil War has always been a great source of conversation amongst students, professors and historians of Allegheny College.
    But for years, the location of the 5-by-10-foot flag that was carried into 19 battles — including Second Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg — was unknown. That was until Professor Emeritus of History and College Historian Jonathan Helmreich’s retirement in 1998, at which time he made it his mission to recover the flag.

    “I looked for about two years,†Helmreich said to a group from the Greater Pittsburgh Civil War Roundtable, which made a stop at Allegheny College on Saturday for a presentation about the Allegheny College Volunteer Company and its flag.

    “I had just about given up when I decided to look in an old cupboard underneath a sink (at Pelletier Library).â€

    Helmreich searched diligently under the sink to no avail and was preparing to put the contents back underneath when he was reminded of his upbringing.

    “The shelf paper was old and ripped,†Helmreich recalled. “I could hear my dad saying, ‘Don’t be so lazy. Replace the shelf paper.’ â€

    So Helmreich started to dig further to remove the old paper under he reached a piece clear in the back.

    “I had the most difficult time removing this piece of paper,†he said. “It was heavy.â€

    There was the flag.

    Helmreich will give a four-minute talk on the Allegheny College Volunteer Company, which became Company I of the 39th Regiment of the 10th Reserve, Pennsylvania Volunteers, as part of the college’s commemoration of Founders Day on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. in the Campus Center Lobby.

    The commemoration, which will include refreshments and drawings for prizes, is free and open to the public.

    Junior Amy Sapalio, who works as an intern in the college’s archives, has prepared an exhibit of photographs, letters and artifacts from the Civil War. Those artifacts include a bullet that passed through the lung of Levi Duff of the Allegheny Class of 1857, and an original handwritten love letter from Captain Edward Henderson, Allegheny Class of 1863.

    “My goal in creating this exhibit was to make our history as Allegheny students relatable to even the student least interested in history,†Sapalio said. “With these items displayed in the Campus Center during Founders Day, it’s my hope that math and science majors, in addition to students of history, will enjoy stopping by to see the accomplishments of students, much like themselves, during the Civil War.â€

    Also on display will be a near-full-size replica of the flag that Company I carried. The original flag, marked by bloodstains and tears caused by shrapnel, is on permanent display in the college’s library.

    Founders Day was first commemorated in 1909 as a way of acknowledging the work and sacrifice of the Rev. Timothy Alden, who founded the college with the help of the townspeople of Meadville in 1815. Alden and his family first arrived in Meadville in April of that year.

    This article was originally posted by Ed Norris on the Civil War Flags Message Board.

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