Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Jersey Civil War Flag Exhibition Unveiling - December 30, 2014

New Jersey Civil War Flag Exhibition Unveiling
December 30, 2014

Representatives of the New Jersey State Museum and the New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association will participate in the unveiling of five historic New Jersey Civil War flags at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, December 30th, 2014. The unveiling will take place at the State Museum Flag Gallery, located on the first floor at 225 West State Street (the building housing the NJ State Archives at the corner of West State and Calhoun Streets) in Trenton.

The State Museum collections include over a hundred flags carried by New Jersey soldiers in the war and the museum periodically rotates five of them for display in specially designed archival exhibit cases. Some of the flags are so fragile they have not been on public display for decades.  The unveiling event will feature an educational gallery walk by flag historian Dr. David Martin, author of the award winning New Jersey at Gettysburg Guidebook.

The forthcoming rotation includes the national colors of the 1st, 8th and 9th Infantry regiments, the state colors of the 7th Infantry regiment, and a rare divisional flag from the 3rd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, in which the famed Second New Jersey Brigade served.  The national flag of the 9th regiment has a particularly dramatic history.  When that unit was almost overrun at the battle of Drewry's Bluff, Virginia on May 16, 1864, Color Sergeant George Meyers stripped the flag from its staff and wound it around his body under his coat so he could pick up a musket and protect it from capture. When the fight was over, Meyers dropped the musket and re-mounted the flag on a stick he picked up on the battlefield. 

As part of the Civil War 150th anniversary, the gallery also features a rotating mini-exhibit of firearms, equipment, photographs, and military documents of the era. The documents are from the New Jersey State Archives collection, and the military items are on loan from private collectors around New Jersey. In keeping with the museum's Civil War Sesquicentennial annual theme, the new exhibit will focus on the 4th, 9th and 33rd Infantry regiments and the events of 1865, including President Lincoln's assassination.  The artifacts will include the 1865 diary of Medal of Honor recipient John Beech of the 4th New Jersey Infantry and the presentation sword and 1865 diary of Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Bray of the 33rd New Jersey Infantry. The exhibit was prepared by Nicholas Ciotola, Curator of Cultural History at the New Jersey State Museum, with the aid of members of the New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association.

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