Civil War Flag Conservation

We’ve been working on conserving, mounting, and framing five original Civil War flags from the DuBose and Wray collections. This can be very tedious and expensive work, but well worth it to save some of the most significant artifacts in the nation! Below are some photos showing the process.

Conservator Patricia Ewer hard at work on the 1862 battle flag of the 4th South Carolina Battalion. Some historic flags have been “restored” so many times in the past that old repairs must first be removed or adjusted before the flag can be prepared for mounting. This battle flag will be exhibited in Turning Point: The American Civil War.

Susan Neill and Kate Rehkopf prepare a special mount by covering a backing board with multiple layers of inert cloth material, to which the flag will be carefully attached.    

This odd-looking flag was made for the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1862. It is known as a “vanity flag” because it lists the battles in which a particular unit participated – but in this case, we do not know which unit. Here, the flag has been attached to its backing, but is still awaiting a frame. This flag will be exhibited in Turning Point: The American Civil War.

Professional framers from Myott Studio in Atlanta install a custom-made pressure-mount frame for the battle flag of Cobb’s Georgia Legion. Draped over the coffin of Brigadier General T.R.R. Cobb after his death at the Battle of Fredericksburg, this flag will be on temporary display at the T.R.R. Cobb historic house in Athens.

This is the flag of the Gate City Guard, an Atlanta volunteer militia company that was among the first to go off to war in 1861. This is the only known surviving flag from any of the Atlanta militia units. Unfortunately it is in pretty tough shape, with most of its original silk fabric missing. It may be a while before this flag is ready for exhibit! Here Patricia Ewer records notes on the condition of the flag in preparation for a report recommending the correct treatment. 

The Atlanta History Center is able to undertake this work thanks to a generous grant from the Watson-Brown Foundation.