Where is the first 19th Ohio Flag, A Mystery?

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Oct 24, 2019
The 3-month 19th Ohio had several flags at Rich Mountain, gifts from the various communities that sent companies to Cleveland to begin building a volunteer Union Army in May, 1861.

The "3-year +" 19th O.V.V.I. flag was mentioned the other thread regarding battles names on their flags.

The fate of the flag carried by the regiment from Shiloh through Missionary Ridge is unknown, but there is a thread of evidence as to its last known location around 1900. There is evidence that the flag was in the Omaha home of 19th Ohio Colonel Charles F. Manderson, then a U. S. senator from the state of Nebraska.

The evidence is a photograph that appears opposite page 44 of Manderson's book, The Twin Seven-Shooters. The picture shows a doorway to an adjacent room in a home that would be fitting for a senator from Nebraska. On the wall hangs a sword and a scabbard. Leaning in a corner by the door there appears to be a flag with an edge of fringe and rolled up on its staff. Manderson's caption to the picture reads: "In the corner stood the regimental flag presented by my comrades when we parted in 1865.The 'deep scar' upon its staff matched the deeper scar upon the manly breast of its bearer in the brave days of old."

The regiment was presented with a new flag when it came home for a month-long furlough, January 1864. In March 1864 a newspaper article describes that Manderson presented that original flag (Shiloh - Missionary Ridge) to the state of Ohio as was then customary for flags no longer serviceable in battle.

The article describes the flag: "the flag is riddled and torn by bullet holes and the staff had a "deep scar" made by a Rebel bullet which killed the standard-bearer in its last battle." That flag was on display in Cleveland. The press carried a statement from Manderson presenting this flag to The state of Ohio and a response of thanks from then Gov. John Brough. With the reference of the "scar" in the presentation news article and the flag in the Manderson home, this must be the same flag.

The question is how did it get there and where is it now?

Checking with the Ohio History Connection that has the 19th Ohio OVVI flag provides some hints. Shortly after the war the Ohio flag collection acted as a sort of lending library with flags being loaned for reunions or other celebrations. This lending was eliminated in the 1870s because of wear and teat on the delicate flags and because, sometimes, the flags were not returned as the borrowers would rather pay the twenty-cent fine instead. It is my contention that the men' admiration to him asked for the flag back from the State of Ohio and presented it to him upon his resignation or some time after although there is no record that this is fact.

The only record tells that the flag was given to the state and accepted, and then shows up at Manderson's home in 1900. Where is the flag now? Communication with the Nebraska Historical Society has no information as to the whereabouts of the flag. Is it hidden in somebody's home in Nebraska or elsewhere, or burned or in a landfill someplace? One might think that a flag recorded in a two-term U. S. senator's home in 1900 might still have a trail to follow for some time after.

The "manly breast" Manderson describes in the caption to his flag picture is probably that of Corporal Sylvester Sprowl. This is based on a news story that summarizes the September Battle of Chickamauga: "wounded - Sylvester Sprowl, color corporal, mortally."

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