So bear them on and guard them well
In yonder proud Memorial Hall.
The flag - the cause for which we fell
Swear brothers it shall never fall.
No Traitor's hand its glory mars
While yet a man is still alive
Who bore the banner of the stars
From Sixty-one to Sixty-five.
The above is a portion of the poem written by Lt. S.F. Flint
of Galesburg, Illinois who was a member of the 7th Illinois
Infantry. The poem was read at the dedication of Memorial
Hall (Hall of Flags) in 1878 and reflects the deep patriotic
feeling of the men who fought under the flags that they placed
Have we been faithful to their trust?
In 1878 the flags were removed from their staffs and placed
on pieces of white tarlatan, which had been cut to the original
size of the flag. The flags were then stitched to the tarlatan,
pressed and placed back on their staffs.
In December of 1923, the flags were removed from the tarlatan,
cleaned and sewn between two pieces of black silk netting.
The flags were reattached to their staffs using leather strips
and returned to the cases in Memorial Hall (Hall of Flags).
No further effort at conservation or storage has been made
Civil War flags were made of weighted silk and painted with
oil based paints. Silk is a "natural product and due to weather,
battle and age the silk has become brittle and has in many
cases "turned to dust." Many of the flags are now beyond salvage
and with the passing of time eventually all of them will disintegrate
if not properly conserved. The silk netting applied to the
flags in the 1920's has stabilized the flags to some extent,
but the netting like the flags is silk and deterioration of
the netting will soon occur.
The flags are now stored on trays within a humidity-controlled
environment at Camp Lincoln in Springfield, IL. They may be
viewed by contacting Mark Whitlock, the curator of the museum
at Camp Lincoln.