CIVIL WAR “NATIONAL FLAG DEPOT NEW YORK 1864” MARKED “FOUR-FOOT RED” SIGNAL FLAG

$6,950.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 282-431

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To Order:
Call 717-334-0347,
Fax 717-334-5016, or E-mail

The “Four-foot Red” and “Four-foot White” were the most commonly used flags in the Civil War signal kit and are described in Brown’s “The Signal Corps, U.S.A. in the War of the Rebellion” (page 116) and elsewhere, including the Myers’ codification of the system in his 1866 signal manual. This is a very nice example of the ‘Four-foot Red,” measuring 48 inches on the hoist and 46 ¾ inches on the fly, which is well within the prescribed 4-foot specifications, especially allowing for shrinkage from outdoor use and the frequent washing recommended in Signal Corps manuals to keep their colors bright and visible.

The fly and hoist edges have ½ inch hems. The white center panel 16 1/4 inches on the hoist, and 15 ¼ on the fly, again, well within specifications, which were 16 inches square. The red portion is made of three panels, 10, 29, and 9 inches in width. The hoist has five ties: thin tapes at the corners and wider tapes in between. The center panel is stamped on either side in one corner, “NATIONAL FLAG / 1864 / DEPOT. NY” in ink. The flag is solid and very displayable with just small wear spots at the upper hoist, a 3-inch separation line along the hoist hem at the center tie, and some scattered slight dirt and stains.

The “National Flag Depot” was a business name of James E. Sebring, 27 Cortland St., NY City, who started business there in May 1862, listing himself sometimes as “agent,” perhaps to keep old creditors off his trail from a failed business in Minnesota. He advertised as the “National Flag Depot,” in the Army-Navy Journal Sept 24, Nov. 5th and Dec. 10th, 1864, specializing in “silk flags and banners,” and he also had government contracts for medical, recruiting, field hospital, ambulance, garrison flags and others from 1861 through 1864 (see Sebring’s listing in Bazelon and McGuinn.)

The Signal Corps was the brainchild of Albert Myer, a U.S. medical officer stationed in Texas in the late 1850s. He managed to interest the U.S. Army in his system of signaling just as the war was about to break out and for a while was the sole U.S. signal officer. The corps expanded rapidly in importance if not in ultimate size, playing a vital role in the conflict. It was somewhat ironic that one of Myers’s prewar proteges was E.P. Alexander, who was equally convincing with Confederate authorities that rapid long-distance communication was essential on the battlefield and on campaign.

This flag has great color and would frame up nicely. It is also a very convenient size for display.    [SR]

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