A valuable piece of Civil War history made its return to Central New York on Flag Day, June 14.
Representatives from Congressman Jim Walsh's and state Senator John DeFrancisco's offices were on hand to welcome the return of the 149th Volunteer Infantry Civil War flag. The banner was originally sewn in Onondaga County by the Jewish Ladies of Syracuse, a woman's organization from Fayetteville, for troops to carry into battle. A dedication in honor of the flag's return to CNY was held at the county courthouse on Flag Day.
The 122nd Regiment New York State Volunteers Inc., a Civil War re-enactment group, funded the flag's restoration. The flag comprises a single layer of blue silk with painted designs on either side. The top, bottom and fly edges are lined with gold silk fringe, machine-stitched into place.
The 149th flag is one of 11 Civil War flags currently kept safe on the second floor of the courthouse in a cabinet just outside the county clerk's office. The flag is so old that it was in danger of deteriorating completely. County Clerk Ann Ciarpelli, the 122nd Regiment and other groups have undergone a preservation process that involves physically restoring flags, displaying them in the courthouse, and educating the public about the story of the 12,265 men from Onondaga County who fought in the Civil War.
According to an article by Christopher Piering, published in the May 2001 issue of the Jewish Observer, the 149th infantry was born in 1862 when President Lincoln called for the help of 300,000 American men to enlist in the army. The infantry, led by Colonel Henry Barnum consisted of 10 companies comprised of 100 men each, and was named the 149th New York State Volunteers.
"Over the past seven years, as the county clerk, I have worked with many local groups to raise funds for the preservation of the 10 Civil War flags that have been in custody of the various clerks from the time when the Civil War ended and our troops returned to Central New York," Ciarpelli said. "We have a very impressive and extensive display that is the largest known collection of Civil War flags by any one community and we are proud of the preservation efforts we have been able to achieve."