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This small hand sewn 13 Star American Flag dates to the period of the Civil War. It was most likely gifted by a veteran member of the William H. Bartlett Post No. 3 of the Grand Army of the Republic.  Stenciling on the reverse of the hoist reads:


and faint but legible script in period ink reads:

W. H. Bartlett
     Nov 9th 1868

Soldiers often gifted flags that were carried or used in the war to their G.A.R. posts as mementos.  Interestingly, the William H. Bartlett post was actually formally organized as Post No. 3 in Tauton, Massachusetts, about 20 miles from the stamped location of New Bedford, Massachusetts.  The post would have served veterans in the local area that included nearby New Bedford.  The Bartlett Post was named for Captain William H. Bartlett of Tauton, Massachusetts.  Bartlett mustered into Company G, 4th Massachusetts Regiment, as a Sergeant on April 22, 1861.  This early war enlistment was for only 90 days, when the nation was optimistic that the war would be resolved quickly.  But with the war continuing, and enlistments expiring, longer term units were soon organized.  He mustered out of the service on July 22, 1861, at the end of the 90 days enlistment with Company G, and immediately re-entered the service as a Captain in Company K, 4th Massachusetts Regiment.  Captain Bartlett was killed in a grenade attack during the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana, on June 14, 1863.  An excerpt in the History of Bristol County, Massachusetts, describes the sad events:

"On the 30th of May the regiment (with Companies G and K) left for Port Hudson, where they had a full share in the siege of that place. On the 14th of June followed the hand-grenade slaughter of the brave men under Capt. Bartlett, whose death has been duly noticed, in the attempt to take that fort. It was one of the deplorable mistakes of the Banks campaign, as a few days' time must have compelled a surrender of the rebels without the reckless loss of valuable lives, accomplishing nothing."

The flag's extremely small size, at just two feet on the hoist and three feet on the fly, is very rare.  Flags during this period were typically large, often more than eight feet in length.  The flag is entirely hand sewn, which is a highly desirable trait in a thirteen star flag of any period.  The wide canvas hoist is interesting and unusual, and the edge reinforcements that extend from the hoist along the top and bottom of the flag, to prevent the wool from tearing from the hoist, are unique in my experience. The colors of the flag are rich and vibrant.  The canton is a deep blue with a tinge of purple hue, typical of Civil War era wool flags, and the red stripes are a deep ruby red color.  The proportions of the canton, being half the length of the fly rather than typical one-third length, is another very attractive and striking feature of the flag.  Although it might be suspected that the flag's length was longer and may have been turned back and re-stitched, examination shows that the current proportions of the flag are original and as intended.  The irregular spacing of the stars, with their flat, blunt tips and haphazard rotation, results in a folky and beautiful presentation of the Hopkinson patterned thirteen star flag.

1 History of Bristol County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Part 2; by Duane Hamilton Hurd, Published by J. W. Lewis & Co., 1883.


Learn more about the patterns of 13 Star Flags. Star Count:  13

Dates:  1860-1868

War Era:  Civil War

Statehood:  Kansas

Construction:  Cotton Muslin Stars on Wool Bunting

Catalog Number:  IAS-00266


31 Stars, California Statehood

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