Flags of the Iron Brigade (con'd)

2d wis flag.JPG (148764 bytes)
Second Wisconsin Regimental Flag

ALTHOUGH parroting much of the descriptive language for the blue regimental color prescribed by then current Army Regulations, the design of the flag was attributed by the Milwaukee Sentinel "to the good taste of Secretary Watson. (The Sentinel may have been basking in its own glory, Since William H. Watson had been both an editor and co-owner of the paper before joining Governor Randall's staff, first as his personal secretary in 1858 and then in 1861 as his military secretary.) Although documentary evidence fails to support or deny the Sentinel's contention, Secretary Watson would be instrumental in securing the new flags for the state in 1863.  Documentary evidence does indicate that he envisioned a double-layered flag like that which the state presented to the Second Wisconsin in August, 1861. In addition to the resolution establishing the state flag, Hopkins' joint committee submitted a bill that authorized the governor to purchase flags in accordance with the state flag resolution. Submitted to the legislature on March 20, the bill quickly passed the procedural hurdles.  Signed by the governor on April 2, 1863, the bill became Chapter 215 of the Laws of 1863. This new "act to authorize the governor to purchase flags" essentially encompassed three provisions, one of which prescribed the procedure for paying for the flags.  In substance, regiments having worn-out flags that had been provided by the state were to requisition a new set through the governor.   The new set would include a state flag conforming to the provisions of the newly adopted joint resolution of the legislature together with a national color bearing the names of the engagements in which the unit had served "honorably." 

The new set of colors could only be purchased with the proviso that the unit's old colors be returned to Wisconsin for safekeeping. The progress of the bills on the new state flag and the procedures for acquiring them evidently were common knowledge to the officers commanding the Wisconsin contingents of the Iron Brigade. Only two days after the act permitting the governor to provide flags was officially in effect, Colonel Bragg,  commanding the Sixth Wisconsin,  determined to take advantage of the law's provisions and wrote the governor: "On behalf of the regiment I have the honor to command, I return to the state of Wisconsin the regimental color,presented this regiment in the summer of 1861. We part with it reluctantly, but its condition renders it unserviceable for field service.  When we received it, its folds, like our ranks, were ample and full; still emblematical of our condition, we return it, tattered and torn in the shock of battle.  Many who have defended it, sleep the sleep that knows no waking; they have met a soldier's death; may they live in their country's memory. The regiment, boasting not of deeds done, or to be done, sends this voiceless witness to be deposited in the archives of our State. History will tell how Wisconsin honor has been vindicated by her soldiers, and what lessons in Northern courage they have given Southern chivalry.  If the past gives any earnest of the future, the Iron Brigade will not be forgotten when Wisconsin makes up her jewels."

The flag itself accompanied newly appointed  Major John F. Hauser on his brief leave to Wisconsin. The Madison Journal reported Hauser's arrival at Madison on April 17.

"Major Hauser, of the 6th Regiment delivered today at The Executive Office, the old regimental flag of the gallant   Sixth regiment, worn and torn, and tattered in the fierce conflicts of Gainesville, Bull Run, 2nd, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.   It will be replaced by the Governor with a new flag under the law passed by the late session."

Although the Second Wisconsin would retain its colors until actually replaced by a new set, Colonel Lucius Fairchild must have made application for a replacement stand of colors at about the same time as the Sixth. The first sets of colors ordered under the 1863 legislation included sets of flags for the First Wisconsin, the Sixth Wisconsin (both of which regiments had returned one of their 1861 colors), and the Second Wisconsin. The governor was directly responsible for securing new colors for the Wisconsin regiments under the 1863 law, but the details of procurement befell to his military secretary, William H. Watson.  Watson sought bids for the new flags only four days after the enabling Act was formally published.  On April 14, 1863, Military Secretary Watson addressed identical letters to G. D. Norris & Co. of Milwaukee and Gilbert Hubbard & Co. of Chicago, stating: I am directed by the governor to enquire prices for, National and Regimental Flags. Under a recent act of the Legislature, he is authorized to furnish new flags to such of our regiments as shall retire them, having used up their first years in service. The National Colors are to be the U.S. Regulation style, and to be inscribed with the names of the battles in which they have been borne. The Regimental flags to be also as described in paragraph 1438 of Army Regulations, except that it must, I suppose, be of double silk, so as to have the State Arms painted on their obverse side.  We shall need several at once, and probably ten or more of each.  Your early reply, with prices &c. will oblige.

Gilbert Hubbard & Co. responded by suggesting that a single layer of silk could be employed if the painting of the arms of Wisconsin and the United States could be executed upon opposite sides of a single panel centered on the blue field of the state flag. Anxious that the work be executed in Wisconsin, Watson suppressed any scruples he may have had about the ethics of his action and communicated the essence of Gilbert Hubbard & Co.'s bids to Norris on April 21, noting:

Your letters of 17th and 21st are received.  We have an offer to make the flags needed, in good style complete with pole, spear head, fringe, tassels, cover, and boot' for $85 and $60. 'Ihis  presumes the regimental flags to be of single silk having a panel painted, so as to put a coat of arms on {sic} each side. This is more desireable than to have it of double silk. The parties propose to commence delivery in two weeks from the order. Time is an important element, as two of our regiments are without any flags whatever, and must be supplied at once. The Governor will await a letter from you tomorrow before deciding upon this order.

In fact, Secretary Watson waited a full week in hope of channeling the state's orders to the Milwaukee firm, but the delay was to no avail. Finally, on April 28, Watson placed the following order with Gilbert Hubbard & Co. of Chicago.I am directed by the Governor to order from you at present, six each of the Regimental and National flags, as per your proposition - complete at $85 and $60. The National Flag to be the U.S. regulation, and a portion of them to be lettered on the stripes. The Regimental Flags to be as per enclosed extract from the recent act of the Legislature. The words to be inscribed on the National Flags and the designations of regiment for the scroll in the others will be sent in a few days. You will oblige by proceeding with the work as rapidly as possible.

Watson complied with his promise to forward the designations and battle honors on May 2, but only for four of the sets under preparation - those of the First, the Second, the Sixth, and the Twenty-Third regiments. (The last regiment had never received colors from the U.S. Quartermaster Department, so the governor had decided to furnish one of the newly ordered sets to it and bill the federal government for the expenditure.) The other two sets of colors ordered on April 28 were to be held in abeyance until the commanding officers of the units for which they were destined provided a proper listing of the battle honors which the units had earned. Gilbert Hubbard & Co.'s proposal had optimistically indicated a delivery schedule of two weeks.  However, by May 26, a month had passed since the order for the six sets of colors had been placed, and no flags had yet been received. Accordingly, Watson asked when the colors might be forthcoming. His inquiry produced results, for by June 4, four flags - two full sets - had been received at Madison, though without the required slings and sockets. These were the sets for the First Wisconsin and the Second Wisconsin.  Two days later Watson forwarded both sets to their respective regiments. Colonel Fairchild was notified of the shipment in a separate letter.  Under the provision of a law of the last  session of the Legislature [wrote Watson], a new stand of colors for your regiment has been prepared and forwarded by Express to Washington, to take the place of those which have been worn out  in the service. Your regiment will doubtless part with regret with the glorious old  flags beneath which it has won so high a reputation, and around which its brave officers and men have so often rallied, and poured out their blood like water in the contest with the enemies of the Union and Constitution; but those flags, returned to this state, will be guarded with care, and serve as mementoes of your valor. The new stand of colors is entrusted to you, in full confidence that the men of the gallant 'Second' will never suffer them to be disgraced, but will return under them to receive the grateful thanks of their fellow citizens.

The colors of the Sixth Wisconsin were ready a few weeks later, and on June 25, a similar letter notified Colonel Bragg of the shipment of his new set of colors:
In compliance with your request a new set of colors for your regiment has this day been sent by Express to Washington in place of those whose torn & bloodstained folds attest the heroism and bravery of your noble regiment. Upon the new regimental [sic-actually the national] flag you will find inscribed the names of the battles in which the regiment won its proud name fighting under the colors that will now be preserved  in the archives of our State as a perpetual monument of the patriotism, brav'ery & heroism of the 6th Reg. Wis. Vols' With full confidence that the honor of our country & state will be as nobly protected by you & our regiment under the new colors as it has been under the old, I remain,
very respectfully yours,
Governor of Wisconsin

In spite of these June mailings, the new sets of flags would not participate in the iron Brigade's next encounter with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia - the sanguinary struggle on the ridges west and north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On June 12, 1863, the Iron Brigade and the rest of the reorganized First Army Corps left their camps along the Rappahannock River in Virginia in pursuit of their old adversary. General Robert E. Lee had slipped his army of Northern Virginia around the flank of the Army of the Potomac and had launched an invasion of Pennsylvania.  For the rest of the month, still under their old colors, the Iron Brigade marched northward in search of the elusive foe. The morning of July 1 found the brigade nearing the crossroads hamlet of Gettysburg. To the northwest, Union cavalry was attempting to delay Confederate General Henry Heth's Division, which was advancing from the northwest on the Chambersburg Pike. Brigadier-General Lysander Cutler's Brigade, in the Union vanguard, quickly relieved the cavalrymen north of the Pike. The Iron Brigade followed close behind to fore stall the enemy advance southward towards Gettysburg. The old colors of the Iron Brigade were due one last bathing in shot and shell, smoke and blood.
The veterans of the Iron Brigade advanced into the fray.  They struck Brigadier-General James J. Archer's Brigade of Alabama and Tennessee troops just as they were regrouping from their crossing of a little creek called Willoughby Run. In the onslaught, Archer's Brigade was shattered, and Archer himself was captured by the Second Wisconsin, which led the charge. The Second had entered the battle with a reduced color-party.  Philander B. Wright, a sergeant detached from Company C, carried the national color. An unidentified corporal carried the blue regimental state color. Only two corporals had been detailed as their color-guard. In the initial assault against Archer's Brigade, this
entire color-party fell dead or wounded. When the colors fell, Corporal Rasselas Davison of Company H sprang forward and raised the regimental color, and Corporal Paul V. Brisbois of Company G seized the national color from the wounded Wright. (Miraculously, both men survived the three-day battle unscathed.) By the end of the day, when the Second Wisconsin made its final stand on Seminary Ridge against the onslaught of Major General William D. Pender's Confederate Division, the color-company, Company H, had been so reduced by casualties that Major John Mansfield assigned its survivors to act as a color-guard for Davison and Brisbois. The Seventh Wisconsin joined the initial assault on Archer's Brigade in echelon to the left of the Second Wisconsin. Less exposed than the rest of the brigade, the colors of the Seventh suffered less severely until the retreat through Gettysburg late in the afternoon. Sergeant Daniel McDermott of Company K carried the Seventh's national color on July 1.  With the collapse of the Union forces north of the town, the Iron Brigade was forced to retreat hastily through Gettysburg to the formidable hills to the south. Colonel William W. Robinson of the Seventh, commanding the brigade after the wounding of his superiors, reported that McDermott "was wounded, just as we were entering the town, retiring, by a charge of grape and cannister, the same charge slivering the flag-staff into a number of pieces.  McDermott was placed upon a caisson that was moving ahead of us, still hanging to the tattered banner, which he waved in defiance at the foe as he rode off.  He has carried this color through every battle in which the regiment has been engaged. That night, bivouacked on Culp's Hill, the color-party of the Seventh substituted a sapling for the shattered staff of its national color. In the disjointed assault across Willoughby Run, the Nineteenth Indiana had adjoined the left of the Seventh Wisconsin. It carried two colors. The blue regimental color was carried by Corporal David Phillips and dated to 1861, when it had been presented to the regiment by ladies of Indianapols.

flag_art_11.JPG (35141 bytes)

Presentation regimental color of the Nineteenth Indiana Infantry, 1861-1864

The complementary national color presented to the Nineteenth in 1861 had been retired during the winter of 1862-1863 at the instigation of Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton, who replaced it with a national color requisitioned from the U.S. Quartermaster Department but decorated with the unit name by the state.(19)  Sergeant Burlington Cunningham, of the Nineteenth's Company K, carried this flag into the assault upon Archer's Brigade. Sergeant Cunningham, who had saved the old national color of the regiment at Antietam, unfurled the national color as the Nineteenth Indiana charged across Willoughby Run, only to receive a bullet through his left side from the first Confederate volley. The same volley wounded P. J. McKinney of Company B, serving as one of the color-guard. When Cunningham fell, Abram J. Buckles picked up the national color and pressed forward. Afterward, Buckles was surprised to discover that Cunningham had not only survived his wound but felt sufficiently recovered to renew his claim to carry the national colors! The two remaining brigades of Heth's
Confederate Division soon renewed their attack, bringing the color party of the Nineteenth Indiana under a withering fire. Sergeant Cunningham was wounded again, this time in the leg. Buckles was wounded in the shoulder. Color-Corporal Phillips, carrying the regimental color, was surprised to suddenly find himself alone and unhurt next to his stricken fellow flag-bearer, Blair. Unhesitatingly he took up both flags. He raised the national color and waved it briefly; then Phillips too was wounded, falling upon both flags. As the Nineteenth Indiana fell back to a new position, someone called to Captain W. W. Macy that the colors had fallen. Captain Macy, Lieutenant Crockett East, and Burr M. Clifford (who had been detailed to the color guard shortly before the battle) rushed back to the place where Corporal Phillips had fallen and rolled him off the flags.  As Lieutenant East attempted to encase one of the flags, he was killed, but Captain Macy and Private Clifford succeeded in furling the colors and were bringing them to the rear when they encountered Sergeant-Major Asa Blanchard. Blanchard accosted the two and demanded possession of the flags. Macy at first balked, but Colonel Samuel J. Williams interceded on Blanchard's behalf, and Blanchard uncased the national color and began to rally the regiment with it. Then he too was struck, the bullet severing an artery in his thigh. Dodging spurts of Blanchard's life-blood, Private Clifford took up the national color and safely retreated with it to Cemetery Hill, where the Union forces rallied.
(19) Judging from other colors issued at the same time, the Nineteenth's second national color was a standard U.S. Quartermaster's contract flag of the type purchased through its New York Depot from Paton & Co. and William and Alexander Brandon. These colors were distinguished from the colors purchased through the Philadelphia Depot by having square cantons, decorated with gold stars in five horizontal rows-7, 7, 6, 7, 7. On November 25, 1862, the Indianapolis Daily Journal published the text of a circular headed "Executive Department/Indianapolis, Nov. 22, 1862" in which Governor Morton informed unit commanders that replacement colors could be procured through him. Telegrams dated December 3 and 4, 1862, concern the shipment of the Nineteenth's new national color on the "24th," presumably of November, 1862; see [Governor Oliver P. Morton], General Telegrams and Dispatches," No. 9 (September 30-December 31, 1862), Indiana State Archives.  Presumably this color was decorated by the state with the inscription "19TH REGT INDIANA VOLS." in gold Roman figures and letters on the ret stripe below the canton. However, when later viewed by its bearer, he stated that "there is no letters on it except a few that is in paint, the gilt letters are all gone; there was very little by which I could identify it to a certainty." See Burr M. Clifford to H. Marsh, December 3, 1915, in the Marsh Papers, Indiana State Library.

flag art 12.JPG (36790 bytes)

Presentation national color of the Twenty-Fourth Michigan Infantry, 1862-1864

Initially posted on the Iron Brigade's left flank, the Twenty-Fourth Michigan carried but a single color into battle at Gettysburg.(20) The flag, a beautifully embroidered national color, had been made by Tiffany & Co. of New York City and presented to the regiment on behalf of F. Buhl & Co. of Detroit on August 26, 1862.  Upon receiving the color, Colonel Henry A. Morrow noted that Color-Sergeant Abel G. Peck would shortly receive a check from a Detroit citizen and, to ensure the flag's safety, an additional $100 was guaranteed Peck if the flag was returned unsullied by Rebel hands. Sergeant Peck never had the opportunity to claim that reward.  In the attack across Willoughby Run, a Confederate bullet made him the first of at least nine color bearers to fall beneath the banner of the Twenty-Fourth Michigan on, July 1, 1863. With Peck's death, Corporal Charles Bellore, detailed to the color-guard from Company E, sprang forward and took up the colors.  In the blazing fight between J.J. Pettigrew's Brigade of North Carolinians and the Iron Brigade for McPherson's Ridge, Corporal Bellore was killed and Private August Ernest of Company A assumed Bellore's charge.  Ernest held fast to the colors until he too was killed.  Sergeant E. B. Welton of Company H picked up the flag from the fallen Ernest and gave it to Colonel Morrow, who searched in the confusion for survivors from the color-guard. But Corporal William Ziegler of Company A was already dead and Corporal Thomas Suggett of Company G and Private Thomas B. Ballou of Company C lay mortally wounded. Finally he found Corporal Andrew Wagner of Company F, the last man of the color-guard, and to him he entrusted the flag. Wagner waved the flag for several minutes and then was shot through both lungs. Colonel Morrow again took the colors, but Private William Kelly of Company E intervened, saying, "The Colonel of the Twenty-fourth Michigan shall not carry the colors while I am alive." He had just grasped the staff when a bullet killed him instantly. Colonel Morrow then turned the flag over to Private Lilburn A. Spaulding of Company K., but he soon retrieved it to help rally the retreating regiment as it fell back towards Gettysburg. While endeavoring to reform the Twenty-Fourth Michigan, Morrow was wounded in the head and forced to leave the field. Temporarily blinded by his own blood, he turned the colors to an unidentified enlisted man, who safely brought the color to Seminary Ridge, though himself mortally wounded. From the hands of' this prostrate, unknown soldier, Captain Albert M. Edwards, senior officer of the Twenty Fourth to survive the day's carnage, took the color and brought the remnants of the regiment to the safety of Cemetery Hill. There rallied the remnants of the Iron Brigade, including the Sixth Wisconsin.
(20) O.B. Curtis, History of the Twenty-fourth Michigan of the Iron Brigade, Known as the Detroit and Wayne Coutity Regiment (Detroit, 1891), 225-227, describes the ceremonies of April 27, 1864, when this old color was replaced by two new flags: a national color under the charge of Sergeant George R. Welch and a regimental color carried by Thomas Saunders, protected by eight other corporals.
THE Sixth had been detached from the rest of the brigade early on the morning of July 1. The color bearers of the single national color remaining with the Sixth Wisconsin were to share the fate of the flag bearers who strove to keep the colors flying through the storm of musketry that swept McPherson's and Seminary ridges west of Gettysburg. Like the final color-bearer of the Twenty-Fourth Michigan, however, their names would not be recorded for posterity. All of them fell, their faces to the enemy, during the headlong counterattack of the Sixth Wisconsin at a railroad cut just north of the Chambersburg Pike. When the rest of the Iron Brigade attacked and crushed Archer's
Brigade, the Sixth Wisconsin and approximately 100 detached men from all of the regiments comprising the brigade provost guard were withheld as a reserve on Seminary Ridge. While the Iron Brigade successfully counterattacked the brigade of Heth's Division south of the Chambersburg Pike, General Cutler's Second Brigade of the First Division, north of and astride the pike, was driven back by the attacks
of Confederate General Joseph R. Davis' Brigade.  Soon this Confederate brigade outflanked the position held by the Iron Brigade and the left units of Cutler's Brigade.  The Sixth Wisconsin, in reserve, was called upon to fill the gap. Supported by New York troops, the men of the Sixth Wisconsin plunged into the maelstrom. In the moments it took to traverse the 150 yards from the Chambersburg Pike to the railroad cut, no one recorded the names of the color-bearers who bore the Flag of the Sixth. Writing after the war, Lieutenant-Colonel Rufus R. Dawes, who commanded the Sixth, remembered:

The only commands I gave as we advanced, were, 'Align on the colors.  Close up on the colors. Close up on the colors!' The regiment was being so broken up that this order alone courd hold the body together. Meanwhile the colors fell upon the ground several times, but were raised again by the heroes of the colorguard. Four hundred and twenty men started in the regiment from the turnpike fence, of whom about two hundred and forty reached the railroad cut.

First Lieutenant Earl M. Rogers, of Company I of the Sixth, recalled after the war:

The distance to the cut was but a few hundred yards and the Mississippians were firing as rapidly as they could load. The colors of the Sixth fell, Dawes seized them and carried them forward. Soldiers eager to be in the vortex of battle rushed to carry the flag when it went down a second time. Dawes again lifted the colors and gave the command to close on the colors. Again men rushed to seize the flag in that great conflict to carry it to the railroad cut.

Although Lieutenant Rogers remembered the names of eleven of his compatriots of Company I that fell in the charge, regrettably he could name none of those who carried the colors except Colonel Dawes. For the balance of July 1, the Sixth Wisconsin fought to the right of the positions occupied by the rest of the Iron Brigade. Though it had suffered less severely than the rest of the brigade, when its withdrawal ended at Cemetery Hill that night only five men huddled around the national color. Sixty others straggled in over the next twenty-four hours, so that the unit was considered sufficiently strong to serve as the brigade's floating reserve at Culp's Hill during the next two days of the battle. On the night of July 2, an enterprising Confederate endeavored to capture the flag of the Sixth shortly after an assault against the Union lines on Cemetery Hill had been repulsed.  He was seen by the Wisconsin men, and Sergeant George Fairfield of Company C later remembered the rebel's fate: "He fell back, pierced with six balls and a bayonet."This brave, futile gesture would prove to be the last threat to any of the old colors of the Iron Brigade during 1863.  Battered as the units they represented, the colors were ready for retirement. New faces and new flags would start the 1864 campaigns of the Iron Brigade.

THE new sets of colors that had been ordered by the state in April and sent in June to the Second and the Sixth regiments finally caught up with the regiments in early August of 1863. The flags had been sent to Washington, D.C., for delivery by the state's military agent there, W. Y. Selleck. By mid-July he had succeeded in locating the brigade in Maryland and informed the unit commanders of the arrival of the flags.

Lieutenant-Colonel Rufus Dawes of the Sixth noted on a letter on July 16:
The State of Wisconsin has at last furnished us a beautiful stand of colors upon which our battles are inscribed: 'Rappahannock, Gainesville, Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Fitz Hugh's Crossing, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg,' and who can tell what more is in store for this shattered fragment of veteran heroes before next July when our term of service will expire.

The battles that Dawes related were indeed the engagements in which the Sixth had participated, but they did not actually reflect what he had seen upon the flags, which had not yet arrived. The flags finally caught up to the two Wisconsin regiments on August 2. Writing from Beverly Ford on the Rappahannock River in Virginia on the day before the flags' anticipated arrival, Dawes commented:
The State of Wisconsin has sent us a fine stand of colors which will, I understand, be here to-morrow.  I wish I could keep our old color lance, which has three bullet holes through it, and two other marks. Think of that slender stick struck five times. . . .

flag pole's IB.JPG (54831 bytes)

flag pole3.JPG (40007 bytes)
Bullet holes in the 2d and 6th Wisconsin Flag poles

Five days later, on August 5, Dawes provided a better insight as to the actual engagements appearing on the flag when he wrote that he had "sent away our old flag yesterday, and were sorry to see it go. The new one is a very handsome silk color (national color) and it has all of our engagements inscribed upon it, except Fitz Hugh's Crossing."

The national flag to which Dawes referred survived only as fragments. The ravages of the elements and of the 1864 campaigns (and possibly souvenir hunters) reduced this flag to a small section of the stripes of the upper fly corner. Given the similarity between the state colors received by the Second and Sixth at the same time, it is highly probable that the national colors were likewise nearly identical except for the unit number and addition of the battle honor "BULL RUN, JULY 1861" to the listing of the Second's engagements.
flag art 14.JPG (47644 bytes)

National color of the Second Wisconsin Infantry, 1863 -1864

Basically conforming to the measurements specified by Army Regulations for national colors, the new U.S. color of the Second Wisconsin bore thirty-four gold stars painted on its rectangular canton, set in six horizontal rows -6, 5, 6, 6, 5, 6. The unit name, "2d Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers.," was painted in gold block letters on the center stripe, the upper-case letters three and a quarter inches high and the lower-case two inches high. The first red stripe beneath the canton bore the battle honors that had been painted in gold by the artist working for Gilbert Hubbard & Co. Since the order for these flags had been place in April, they reflected the 1861 and 1862 battles of the Second. To fit the stripe, the honors were compressed into two horizontal rows.
The upper row bore the names "BULL RUN, JULY, 1861.  GAINSVILLE, BULL RUN, AUG, 1862." and the lower "SOUTH MOUNTAIN, ANTIETAM, FREDERICKSBURG.," all in one-and-a-half-inch-high lettering.  On the red stripe beneath the stripe bearing these honors, two additional honors were added: "CHANCELLORSVILLE." over "GETTYSBURG." Although painted in the same height and face of lettering as the earlier honors, the coloration and widths of individual letters suggests that these last two honors were affixed to the flag after it left Gilbert Hubbard & Co. Most likely these two honors were added in Washington through the efforts of agent Selleck, possibly accounting for the August delivery of the two sets of colors. Exclusive of the two-and-a-half-inch-deep yellow silk fringe that borders all but the staff edge, the 1863-1864 national color of the Second Wisconsin measures seventy-one inches on its staff by seventy-three inches on its fly.  Its rectangular canton measures thirty-seven inches on the staff by twenty-six inches on the fly, and the thirtv-four gold stars thereupon each measure two and five-eighths across their points. The flag was attached to its staff by means of a sleeve, two and a quarter inches in diameter, formed by doubling over the leading edge, lining it with linen, and sewing it to form a tube.The complementary state flags accompanying the national colors received by the Second and Sixth regiments in August were nearly  identical.  Essentially they agreed with the provisions of the 1863 joint resolution of the legislature as modified in the Hubbard company's  proposal of April. Each blue silk color bore a disc in its center, approximately thirty to thirty-two inches in diameter, inclusive of the three-eighths-inch-wide edge.  Against a sky blue background circumscribed by gray clouds, the obverse side of each bore a painted rendition of the 1851 Wisconsin coat of arms. The buff shield with Wisconsin's symbols dominated the center, surmounted by a  badger crest in natural colors and a red scroll with the state motto "FORWARD" in the same 1861-1865 yellow paint that edged the scroll. 'I'o the right shield stood a sailor holding a coiled rope and attired in dark blue except for his white shirt with light-blue falling collar and plastron. Leaning against the shield's left side was a    bareheaded yeoman with a pick, wearing a loose red shirt and black trousers. Natural colored cornucopiae emptied at the foot of the shield. On the reverse, the background coloration remained the same. However, in lieu of Wisconsin's coat of arms, the national coat of arms was displayed. Like some of Gilbert Hubbard & Co.'s earlier work, the source for the representation remains enigmatic. The eagle was displayed with wings upstretched and with a flowing red scroll bearing the motto "E PLURIBUS UNUM" curling in front of the eagles right wing
and neck but behind its left wing. The clipped corners on the U.S. shield on the eagle's breast were atypical of the era the flag was painted. Three gold arrows in the eagle's left talons and a natural-colored olive branch in its right talons completed the design of the panel on the reverse side. On each side beneath the painted panels bearing the coats of arms, the regimental designation was painted on a single-piece, six inch wide red scroll edged in gold. For the 2nd, this unit name read "2D WISCONSIN INFANTRY VOLS.," and for the Sixth the number was changed so that it read "6TH WISCONSIN INFANTRY VOLS." in gold letters and figures . Unlike the lettering on the national colors (which read correctly only on the obverse of the flag), these abbreviations were readable from both sides of the flag.

flag art 15.JPG (44314 bytes)

State regimental color of the Second Wisconsin Infantry 1863 -1864 (obverse)

flag art 16.JPG (36360 bytes)

State regimental color of the Second Wisconsin Infantry 1863 - 1864 (reverse)

flag art 17.JPG (42277 bytes)

National color of the Sixth Wisconsin Infantry, 1863-1864 (reconstruction).

flag art 18.JPG (37876 bytes)

State regimental color of the Sixth Wisconsin Infantry, 1863-64 (obverse)

flag art 19.JPG (36029 bytes)

State regimental color of the Sixth Wisconsin Infantry 1863-1865 (reverse)

THE receipt of these two sets of colors prompted the commanding officers of the Second and the Sixth regiments to return their war-torn colors to the state in accordance with the provisions of the 1863 state legislation.  Col. Rufus Dawes of'the Sixth Wisconsin addressed state agent W. Y. Selleck at Washington, August 4,  sending back the U.S. color :(21)

I have the honor to acknowledge at the hands of Mr. Taylor, the receipt of the National color, with the names of our battles inscribed upon it, provided by the State of Wisconsin for this regiment. I send to you herewith for transmission to the Governor our old color.  It can no longer be unfurled and five bullets have pierced the staff.  Its tattered folds and splintered staff bear witness more eloquently than words to the conduct of the men who have rallied around it from Gainesville to Gettysburg. We send it to the people of Wisconsin, knowing what they expect of us, and we promise that the past shall be an earnest of the future, under the beautiful standard they have sent us.
(21) Less the two-and-a-half-inch-deep yellow silk fringe, the blue silk state flags of the Second Wisconsin and the Sixth Wisconsin respectively measure seventy and three-quarters inches on the staff by seventy-six inches on the fly and seventy-one inches on the staff by seventy-three inches on the fly. Both flags were attached to their staffs by means of sleeves, formed as described above. 

While the Sixth sent their colors through Washington, the Second sent their colors directly to Wisconsin, where they arrived on August 13. When the latter's colors passed through Milwaukee en route to Madison, the Milwaukee Sentinel commented that the "battle flags of the Second Wisconsin arrived here yesterday of the United States Express, and were sent directly on to Madison. They are completely riddled with bullets, and one of the staff's showed marks of having been hit some four or five times, and splintered by balls."

In spite of the condition of these flags, the state was loath to retire them. Accordingly, the national colors of the Second Wisconsin and the Sixth Wisconsin were loaned in October of 1863 to the Great Northwestern Soldiers Fair in Chicago, to be displayed in the relic section of this huge fund raising event.

They both were photographed in their tattered condition. "Sanitary fairs" in 1864 and 1865 would call the old flags to further service. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Iron Brigade contingents still possessed one dilapidated set of colors. The Seventh Wisconsin would shortly rectify that problem. 
Although documentation is lacking, the receipt of the new colors of the Second and Sixth regiments must have elicited both admiration and envy within the Seventh Wisconsin, for shortly after their receipt, the Seventh requisitioned a new set of state colors. 
On September 9, 1863, Military Secretary W. H. Watson placed the following order with Gilbert Hubbard & Co. of Chicago "I am directed by the Governor to order of on a suite of flags for our 7th Reg't Infantry Volunteers; the National Flag to be inscribed as follows: Gainesville, Bull Run, 1862, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Fitzhugh Crossing, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg

flag art 1.JPG (57530 bytes)

National color of the Seventh Wisconsin Infantry, 1863-1865.

For some reason, this set of colors took nearly two months to prepare.
Finally, on November 71 1863, Secretary Watson wrote to Wisconsin's Washington agent, W. Y. Selleck: "I am directed by the Governor to say that he sends by Express today the new flags for the 7th Wis. Inf'y, to your address. You will oblige the Governor by seeing that they are delivered to the regiment, and that the old flags are sent to the Governor immediately."
It is not known if these new colors reached the Seventh before the commencement of the Mine Run Campaign three weeks later. The blue state flag that accompanied the Seventh's new set of colors differed little from those issued in June to the Second and Sixth Wisconsin regiments. However, certain details were altered by the artist who executed the state coat of arms. The shape of the scroll bearing the state motto, "FORWARD," was modified from a single section to a double section ribbon. The entire coat of arms was also made somewhat smaller, and the gray clouds that adjoined the gold edge of the panel were made more pronounced.

State regimental color of the Seventh Wisconsin infantry 1863-1865 (obverse).

The single-piece red scroll below the coat of arms bore the regimental designation "7 TH REGT WIS. INFANTRY VOL'S." in gold lettering. The shape of the scroll was identical to that used earlier on the flags of the Second and the Sixth. While this state color differed little from the six predecessors that had been ordered in April, the Seventh's new national color was different in two important respects. West Virginia's admission to the Union had become official July 4, 1863, and from that day hence until 1865 the national flag bore thirty-five stars. The new national color of the Seventh reflected that addition. The thirty-five gold stars in the rectangular dark-blue canton were arranged in six horizontal rows-6, 6, 5, 6, 6, 6. The unit abbreviation on the center stripe also had been modified in style of lettering and method of ordering the wording. The latter apparently followed the form used on the state color. And, while much of the lettering has been lost to age and battle damage, the new style apparently eliminated the use of lower-case in favor of all upper-case letters. (This was also done on the new national flags ordered for the Tenth Wisconsin on August 14 and for the Eleventh Wisconsin on October 9, 1863.)  The eight battle honors specified in the original order to Gilbert Hubbard & Co. of September 7 were painted on the red stripe below the canton in two horizontal  rows in one-and-three-quarter-inch gold and the Eleventh Wisconsin,  see letters, shadowed black low and left. The Wisconsin contingents of the Iron Brigade at last all had new colors.
'The blue state color of the Seventh Wisconsin received in 1863 measures seventy-one inches on its staff by seventy-two inches on its fly, not including the two-inch deep yellow silk fringe on three sides. The central disc is about twenty-eight inches in diameter, inclusive of its one half-inch gold edge. The scroll is four and three-quarter inches wide, also inclusive of its one-half-inch gold edge. The sleeve is two inches in diameter when flattened.'

State regimental color of the Seventh Wisconsin Infantry 1863-1865 (reverse).

"The 1863-1865 national color of the Seventh Wisconsin measures seventy-one inches on its staff; however, only fifty-seven inches remain of what is presumed to have been a seventy-six-inch -long fly, all exclusive of the two and-a-half-inch-deep yellow fringe on three sides.
The flag is heavily damaged, so that only L`- R" remains of' the unit designation, and several of the battle honors are partly or completely missing as well. The canton, measuring thirty-eight inches on the staff by twenty-six inches on the fly, is also damaged, but the star pattern is discernible. Regrettably, the restorer of this flag incorrectly reapplied the unit abbreviation and one of the battle honors during conservation of the flag. For the orders to Gilbert Hubbard & Co. for the colors of the Tenth Wisconsin (as well as one for the Seventeenth)

WHILE the Wisconsin units of the were the only regiments to receive new colors until 1864, another elaborate flag was presented to the Iron Brigade as a whole in 1863. Shortly after the battle of Gettysburg, and partly in recognition of the gallant conduct of the brigade in that battle, a group of citizens of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan residing in Washington determined to honor the brigade through the gift of a special presentation flag. The group raised a thousand dollars and commissioned the New York City firm of Tiffany & Co. to prepare the flag
of the richest practical construction, which was to be presented with great pomp at a special ceremony. 
The first anniversary of the battle of Antietam (September 17, 1863) was selected as the appropriate presentation date, and dignitaries were invited to make preparations for that date. Unfortunately for these dignitaries, Major General George Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, had other plans, and the Iron Brigade moved to Culpepper, Virginia. Wisconsin's military agent, W. Y. Selleck, caught up with the brigade at Culpepper, and in the absence of the scheduled dignitaries, gave a speech on behalf of former Governor Randall and then presented the flag to the brigade. The Twenty-Fourth Michigan received a net set of colors on April 27, 1864; (see Curtis, History of the Twenty Fourth Michigan, 225-227.) Unfortunately, these flags were not restored during Michigan's Civil War Centennial Restoration Program, so their design and measurements remain enigmatic.

Click to read the 
Flag presentation program to the  


Colonel William W. Robinson, still commanding the brigade in the absence of wounded senior officers, accepted the gift, and then all attending officers opened the champagne that had been bought for the occasions. With few exceptions, the officers of the brigade and their guests (and any enlisted men who chanced to scavenge a bottle) were happily tight that night.

Mathew Brady's photograph, taken prior to the September, 1863, presentation of  the
Tiffany embroidered Iron Brigade color, depicts the flag in its full glory

The Tiffany embroidered Iron Brigade flag today

The Iron Brigade flag itself was made of the finest blue silk, bordered with a deep gold fringe. In brocade embroidery in its center, the artisans at Tiffany had worked a representation of an eagle with upstretched wings perched upon a U.S. shield floating in a bank of clouds. A shaded yellow scroll bearing the U.S. motto, "E PLURIBUS" and "UNUM" in brown block letters flowed from the eagle's talons and below the clouds. The entire central device was based on the engraving appearing on the obverse side of the $10 demand note issued by the Treasury Department in 1861." Above this central motif, similarly embroidered in yellows and browns, was another scroll bearing the name "IRON BRIGADE." Six smaller yellow scrolls decorated the edges of the field; the three along the staff edge were respectively inscribed (top to bottom) "GAINESVILLE.," "BULL RUN.," and "SOUTH MOUNTAIN." The three along the fly edge were similarly inscribed "ANTIETAM.," "FREDERICKSBURG.," and "GETTYSBURG." The names of the five western regiments of the brigade were also embroidered on the blue field, but in yellow script figures and letters directly upon it. The upper edge bore the designations 2" Wisconsin." and 6"Wisconsin." The lower edge was similarly inscribed " 19 Indiana." and "7 Wisconsin." The final name, "24 th Reg. Michigan Vol." was worked into the field beneath the scroll bearing the U.S. motto.  In typical Tiffany style, a narrow sleeve along the leading edge of the flag held an iron rod that screwed into the finely finished, silver-mounted staff. In workmanship and elegance, the flag was unsurpassed. The question arose, however, as to the role of this presentation flag. Flags permitted at brigade headquarters and the flag was sent to field were the designating flags ordered by the headquarters into combat headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. Like company flags, the brigade presentation flag was therefore superfluous. The officers of the Iron Brigade resolved to send the flag to one of the Northern states for safekeeping. 

Since Wisconsinites outnumbered the others, the flag was sent to Madison.

The field and staff officers of the Second Wisconsin Infantry, photographed at Fredericksburg, Virginia, in July of 1862. To the right is the blue regimental color presented to the Second Wisconsin Infantry by Governor Alexander Randall on August 2, 1861. The tricolored flag (white-red-blue) with the numeral '2 " on the left is the regimental devignating  flag adopted in June of 1862.
In this photograph taken near Fredericksburg, Virginia, in July of 1862, the flag of the Second Wisconsin of this type (bearing the numeral "2") flies near Colonel O'Connor's tent and the Second's regimental flag. For a detailed discussion of these regimental flags, see Howard Michael Madaus, "McClellan's System of Designating Flags, Spring-Fall, 1862," in military Collector and Historian, 17:1-14 (Spring, 1965). In May of 1863, a new system of distinguishing the subordinate levels of the Army of the Potomac was devised. Under this system the brigade received a white triangular flag bearing a red disc, which it continued to carry to the end of the war. See OR, Series 1, Vol. 25, Pt. 2, pp. 152 & 469-471, and Frederick P. Todd, American Military Equipage, 1851-1872 (Providence, 1977), Vol. 2, pp. 318-33

The only flags carried at Brigade headquarters into combat would be the white-red-blue horizontal  color that designated the 3rd brigade of King's Division in 1862 and the white triangular pennant bearing the red disc of the First  Division, First Army Corps, adopted in 1863 and associated with all the Iron Brigade's battles, even those from the 1864 campaigns.(23)

(22)"Sometime prior to 1919. the brigade flag was vandalized by a souvenir hunter who gashed an approximately eighteen-inch square from the tower section, including not only the "N Vol" of the Twentv-Fourth Michigan's inscription but also the "7th Wiscon" of the Seventh Wisconsin's inscription.  Prior to its presentation, the flag had been photographed by Brady's Washington studio, so a record of its original appearance survives.

(23)The earlier brigade flag, a five-foot hoist 1) six-foot fly rectangular flag composed of' three horizontal bars (from the top, white-red-blue) was adopted under its circular issued June 19, 1862, from the headquarters of'the Department ot the Rappahannock; see OR, Series 1, Vol. 5 1,Pt. 1, p. 683. Each regiment of'the brigade had it similar flag with the numeral "1", "2, "3', or "4" laying on its side sewn to the upper white bar; however, there is no evidence to indicate that these flags were carried into combat.

Many historians consider the Iron Brigade's gallant stand on the first day at Gettysburg as signaling the brigade's unofficial demise. Casualties incurred that day did unalterably change the "all-western" composition of the brigade. But the addition of the small First Battalion New York Sharpshooters (as well as temporary assignments of other "eastern" units) was more than offset on April 28, 1864, when the Seventh Indiana was transferred to the Iron Brigade. Moreover, even though the First Army Corps was consolidated into the Fifth Army Corps in March of 1864, through August the old divisional integrity was maintained. Even after consolidation with the 'Junior Bucktail"
brigade in September, 1864, attrition and terminations of service affected the brigade more dramatically than the attachment of any "eastern" units.

The partially revitalized Iron Brigade entered the spring campaign of 1864 in good spirits and with new colors flying over four of its old regiments. But the first two days of combat in the Wilderness Campaign (May 5 and 6, 1864) leached the strength of the brigade once more. Those two days cost the Iron Brigade more than five hundred
One of these casualties was Abram J. Buckles, who was subsequently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. After recovering from the wound he suffered at Gettysburg, Buckles had been appointed color-sergeant of the Nineteenth Indiana. He later recalled that after the Iron Brigade had driven the enemy through a clearing in the heavily forested Wilderness, it stopped to reform.
". . Meanwhile the johnnies crossed the clearing and posted themselves in a thicket. Up to this time I had been unable, because of the bushes and trees, to unfurl my colors, but on coming into the clearing I loosened its folds and shook the regiment's flag free to the breeze. From their covered position the enemy had begun to pour a  withering fire into us; comrades were dropping at every hand and delay was fatal, while retreat was never dreamed of. The only possible safety lay in a charge, and believing that a short quick rush with such a line as we had, a heavy one, would force the Confederates to fly, I ran to the front.

Waving the flag above my head, I called upon the boys to follow. To a man they responded, and together we dashed toward the troublesome thicket. We were going in fine style when I was struck, shot through the body. I fell, but managed to keep the flag up until little John Divelbus, one of the color-guard and as brave a man as ever lived, took it out of my hands, to be killed a few minutes later."
He Kept His Colors Flying," in W. F. Beyer and 0. F. Keydel, eds., Deeds of Valor: How Americas Heroes Won the Medal of Honor
(Detroit, 1903), Vol. 1, pp. 316-317.

The Wilderness would also cost the Nineteenth Indiana its commanding officer, Colonel Samuel J. Williams, who had earlier played a part in the struggle for the Nineteenth's colors at Gettysburg.

The Second Wisconsin would also lose field officers in the Wilderness: Colonel John Mansfield, who was wounded and captured, and Lieutenant-Colonel William L. Parsons, who was twice wounded and missing in action. The forty casualties suffered by the Second Wisconsin caused the unit to be assigned to divisional provost guard duty for the balance of its term. Then, because it failed to secure enough re-enlistments to become a "veteran" regiment, the Second was mustered out of service at Madison on June 18, 1864. Captain George H. Otis, the unit's last commander, turned over the regimental colors to the State of Wisconsin on July 1, 1864, with these words.

"The 2nd Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers having been mustered out of service upon expiration of term of service, it becomes my duty to return to the State the colors borne in the engagements on the Rappahannock and Mine-Run, 1863, the first and second days battles of the Wilderness, at Laurel Hill and Spotsylvania, and to the 11th of June in the present Virginia campaign.... The records [of the regiment] are our story and the colors the mementoes of our firm resolve of the right and a will to do and dare when facing a common foe. I only regret that I cannot give the names of the color bearers who have fallen in our three years' service. Yet I may assure you they were always in good hands, and defiantly waved in the face of the enemy."

Throughout 1864 the other color-bearers in the Iron Brigade seldom received official recognition.

On the second day of the battle of the Wilderness (May 6, 1864), Colonel Rufus Dawes of the Sixth found it necessary to again take up the unit's colors to rally the regiment." The name of the color-bearer who carried it up to that point was not recorded. Similarly, the color-sergeant who was wounded carrying the colors of the Sixth in the disastrous assault at Petersburg on June 18, 1864, remains anonymous. The next casualty, however, was Sergeant C.A. Winsor of Company A, who was slightly wounded on August 19, 1864, at the Weldon Railroad battle.

These sergeants had been carrying the national color of the Sixth Wisconsin. The state color drew its share of enemy fire as well, as evidenced by the bullet hole that passed directly through its staff. While no losses are recorded among the color-bearers of the state color of the Sixth, on June 12, 1864, Mair Pointon was detached from Company A to the color-guard and assigned the responsibility of carrying the state color.

COMPARED to its mate, the state color issued to the Sixth Wisconsin in 1863 is in good condition. Aside from the hole in the staff and the corresponding damage inflicted upon the flag from the splinters, there is little to indicate that the state color saw extensive combat. The relatively good condition of the state flags of both the Sixth and the Seventh Wisconsin suggest that both may have been retired from active combat at the beginning of the seige of Petersburg. Indeed, in the autumn of 1864 the state color of the Sixth was formally retired, and by October 26 it was in the hands of the state's quartermaster-general. The state flag of the Seventh Wisconsin was similarly returned before the beginning of the spring campaign of 1865, the quartermaster-general noting its return on March 16, 1865. In the last engagements of the Seventh, only a national color was carried, under the care of Sergeant George W. Davis of Company C.  Even the Twenty-fourth Michigan had reverted to carrying a single color. When Colonel Morrow reorganized his color-guard on December 16, 1864, he appointed only a single color-bearer, Sergeant Charles D. Durfee of Company C, protected by a truncated guard of only five corporals. By the last year of the war, the surviving veterans traveled more lightly than they had in 1861, and no doubt had fewer illusions about the importance of flags, martial music and ceremony.

Until January of 1864, when the responsibility for procuring colors was turned over to the state quartermaster general, the governor of Wisconsin had purchased for the state regiments ten full sets of national and state colors, two national colors unaccompanied by state flags, and a single state flag conversely unaccompanied by a national flag. Most of these were purchased under the authority of the act of the legislature passed on April 10, 1863. (These included the three sets received by the Wisconsin regiments of the Iron Brigade in 1863.) However, one of the sets purchased in 1863 had been paid for out of the governor's contingency fund, and three other sets were billed
to the federal government.'
flag art 6.JPG (76207 bytes)
National color of the Sixth Wisconsin Infantry, 1865.

To rectify the deficiencies of the 1863 legislation, a bill had been introduced into the state senate in February, 1864. However, before this proposal would pass the legislative hurdles, Governor James T. Lewis had endeavored to secure new state colors for the Wisconsin regiments returning to the state on veteran furlough. He attempted to secure these flags from the U.S. Quartermaster Department. When the latter declined to furnish anything other than colors that agreed with U.S. regulations, the governor unsuccessfully appealed to the Secretary of War. Undaunted by this rebuff, Lewis appealed to ex-Governor Alexander Randall, who was then serving as Lincoln's Assistant  Postmaster-General. Randall interceded on Lewis' behalf on October 3. Though Quartermaster-General Montgomery C. Metes thought the changes could be effected with little additional expense, Lincoln's Chief of-Staff, General Henry W. Halleck, objected. Accordingly, on October 27, Randall was informed that the U.S. would only furnish colors in accordance with current Army Regulations and only inscribed with honors that had been approved by the commanding officers of field armies. 

Not waiting upon the Washington bureaucracy, the state legislature had meanwhile adopted a bill on April 15, 1864 that permitted veteran regiments and other Wisconsin units to receive new colors. Under this legislation, new colors were provided in 1864 to four veteran and nine non-veteran regiments. 

The same legislation on allowed the state quartermaster-general to furnish colors to six other Wisconsin regiments in 1865, three of which had "veteranized" (re-enlisted) in 1864. Among these was the Sixth Wisconsin Veteran Infantry, which, with the Seventh Veteran Infantry, continued the traditions of the old Iron Brigade after the final reorganization of February, 1865.

Major William Orr of the Nineteen Indiana applied to the state adjutant general for a new national color on September 8, 1864, stating that "the staff is shattered by balls and the flag itself torn to shreds by balls and the elements." Six weeks later the Nineteenth Indiana was consolidated with the Twentieth Indiana, so the newly requisitioned color never saw combat with the Iron Brigade. By the time the Twenty-Fourth Michigan received a new state flag on February 22, 1865, it too was no longer part of the Iron Brigade.

THE order for the new national color for the Sixth Wisconsin was drafted just before active campaigning began in the East in the spring of 1865. On March 24,, the Wisconsin quartermaster-general, J. M. Lynch, placed the order for this flag with Gilbert Hubbard & Co.: "By order of the Governor, you are hereby requested to make for this State, one Stand of National Regimental Colors for the 6th Reg't Wisconsin Vet. Vol. Inf'y, to be also inscribed as follows, with the names of battles in which the regiment has been engaged, viz: Gainesville, Bull Run, South Mountain Antietam, Fredericksburg, Fitz Hugh's Crossing, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Laurel Hill,
North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, 1st Hatcher's Run, 2d Hatcher's Run. Please forward the flag to me, by American Express, as soon as completed.

The resulting color reflected a major deviation from the national colors Gilbert Hubbard & Co. had provided Wisconsin during 1864. Like most of the national colors made since late 1863, the unit's name was abbreviated on the center stripe in gold block letters (shadowed black, low and left): "6th. REG.WIS. VET. VOL. INFANTRY." The full listing of battle honors, agreeable with Lynch's order, was painted in shadowed gold block letters on the two red stripes below the canton, each stripe containing two horizontal rows of honors across its full length. The canton, however, differed from the 1864 issues in that the thirty-five gold stars were arranged in seven horizontal rows of five stars each instead of the six staggered rows that typified the 1864 issues. By the time this color was completed, the remnants of the old Iron Brigade had fought their last campaign. Two days after Lee's army had surrendered to Grant near the small hamlet of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, the Wisconsin quartermaster-general forwarded the veteran Sixth's new national color to Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas
Kerr."' The new color would lead the regiment on its triumphant march through Washington during the Grant Review of the Army of the Potomac in May. Immediately behind, in stark contrast, followed the battle-worn national color of the veteran Seventh. From Washington, the flags of the veteran Sixth and the veteran Seventh would travel to Louisville, Kentucky, and at last, in July, back to Madison. There the flags were formally returned to the state, rejoining the colors that had been sent home in 1863 and 1864.

Never again would the flags of the Iron Brigade fly above the smoke and din of combat. Like the veterans who had borne them, they had returned home in glory, to be honored and then honorably retired. But their day was far from over. Even before the Civil War ended, the flags had been propelled into the political arena, and now they were to begin a new career as symbols and artifacts of the triumphant Union.

(This color measures seventy-two and a half inches on the staff by seventy-one inches on the fly, not including the two-and-a-quarter-inch-deep yellow silk fringe. The unit designation is painted in two-and-a-half-inch-high letters, reading properly on the obverse, but painted in reverse on the other side. The canton measures thirty-nine inches on the staff by twenty-six inches on the fly, and its gold stars are one and three-quarters inches across their points, inclusive of the alternating black and yellow high lights. As with all the later colors produced by Gilbert Hubbard & Co., the flag was secured to its staff by means of a sleeve lined in linen and two and a quarter inches in diameter formed by doubling over the leading edge of the flag. During 1864, the usual star pattern on Gilbert Hubbard & Co. Flags furnished on contract to Wisconsin had been six horizontal rows of stars, arranged either 5,6, 6, 6, 6, or 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 6 stars per row.)

Beyond the Battle 1865-1985