Civil War Flags

Harner Room, 3rd Floor, Musselman Library

Ogden Flag

Richard OgdenLike his father before him, Richard Ogden, a WWII veteran, kept a long underwear box in his safety deposit box at a small bank in Bendersville, PA.  Inside was a carefully folded 34-star flag of cotton and wool.  The hand-stitched flag flew for the first time when Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, it flew over the Rose Farm during the Battle of Gettysburg, and it travelled west with the expansion of the American frontier.

Margaret DeGroff, the seamstress of this flag, and her husband, James Ogden, were tenant farmers on the Rose Farm.  They had 10 children, two of whom, William and Wesley, served in the Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War.  Both were captured, Wesley on April 20, 1864, and William on May 6, 1865, and imprisoned at Andersonville, GA.  Both survived.  Wesley took the flag with him when he moved west in the 1870s, eventually settling in Washington, KS.

Ogden Flag in Harner RoomIn 1923, Wesley’s granddaughter mailed the flag back to Pennsylvania.  William Ogden’s daughters, Flora and Phoebe, hung the flag on the front porch of the family home.  In the 1940s, Richard Ogden’s father, Charles, deposited the flag in the Bendersville bank for safe keeping.     

After over 70 years in storage, Richard Ogden donated his family’s flag to Musselman Library, Gettysburg College in November 2012.  Prior to hanging, it underwent extensive cleaning, restoration, and custom preservation framing.  

Scarlato FlagScarlato Flag

The Scarlato flag, like the Ogden flag, it is a 34-star civilian flag dating to the early 1860s. It is made of silk and was embroidered with a slogan, now partially lost. This flag was used to make a political statement. The embroidered slogan “The Union as our Fathers . . .” was a common rallying cry in the early 1860s. One form, “The Union as our fathers intended it to be,” was used by pro-Lincoln abolitionists who cited the absence of the word “slavery” in the Constitution as support for their cause. Another, “The Union as our Fathers made it,” was used by Copperhead Democrats under the leadership of Clement Vallandingham of Ohio. The exact message of this particular flag is unknown.

The Scarlato flag was purchased by an avid Civil War collector and is on loan.