52nd New York Flags


The flags of the 52nd New York are a bit of a mystery.  There is no record of them as being held by New York State in a list of flags in Phisterers New York in the War of the Rebellion in 1912.  However, NY currently holds several flags of the 52nd, including their first regimental color and flank markers. 

The flank markers are similar to other flank markers issued by the state.  Dark blue in color and about 29” by 30 “, they are fringed along the border.  The design and inscriptions are painted on the flag in red, gold and black, with the inscriptions reversed on one side.  However, the regimental number read normally on both sides.  The markers probably date from an earlier period in the 52nds service, as they only say “NYSV” for “New York State Volunteers”, not “NYSVV,” representing “New York State Veteran Volunteers.”  The 52nd became a Veteran regiment in the winter of 1863.  The oval shield in the center is also not as ornate as the ones seen on the markers for Veteran regiments.

The 52nds first regimental color is a beautiful, and possibly, one of a kind flag.  According to an article published in the Brooklyn Eagle on October 31, 1861, it was presented to the regiment on October 30, 1861 while they were encamped on Staten Island.  The flag was sewn by Brooklyn ladies under Mrs. Otto Schloemer, and presented by Miss Mary Matthews with remarks given by a Judge Reynolds, whose speech talked about the honor and devotion of “those who came to us from another continent” who are “pledging to the country a higher and stronger allegiance than that of mere birth, and cementing it in blood.”  Accepting the flag, Colonel Paul Frank then gave a speech in German.  After the 52nd put on some maneuvers for the assembled crowd, the guests attended a party. 

            The flag was made of two separate pieces of silk with a cotton layer inside and gold bullion fringe on the border, 77" by 85" in size.  All of the work on the flag was embroidered, while the majority of other flags were painted on silk.  One side of the flag was made of white silk, with Liberty mounted on the back of a flying eagle, holding the Constitution in one hand and the US flag in the other.  The eagle holds an olive branch in its mouth, but clutches lightning bolts in its talon.  Oak leaves are in the corners.  Gold bullion was also used on the border of Liberty’s collar, sleeves and dress hem.  Silver bullion was used for the star at the apex the collar and probably for the stars on the American flag.  The name of the embroiderer, Franceska Klein, is on one of the corners.  She also did the embroidery for the first colors of the 7th and 20th NY regiments. 

            The reverse side was made of scarlet silk.  It was embroidered with “Sigels Rifles,” “52nd Regt. N.Y.S.V. 1861” and “Col. Paul Frank,” with oak leaves in the corners and laurel leaves in a wreath in the center.  Both sides were embroidered with the battle honors of Fair Oaks, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Gaines Mill, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, Antietam and Fredericksburg, though they appear in a different order on the two sides of the flag. 

            The flag of the 52nd has been shown in two books from two different Time Life Series.  One is The Bloodiest Day: The Battle of Antietam and the other was Echoes of Glory: Arms and Equipment of the Union.  It was also on display in the Capital in Albany from October 2006 to October 2007 as part of an exhibit on the ethnic regiments of New York in the Civil War called “United Under the Flag.”  The following pictures were taken during the exhibition.  Though better views of the white side of the flag exist, this is the only place I know of that has a picture of the red side of the flag.

 

The commonly seen "white side" of the 52nd flag, on display

The rare "red side," taken from the "United Under the Flag" exhibits information panel

"United Under the Flag" Exhibit Page

52nd New York Regimental Color - NYS Military Museum

52nd New York Flank Markers - NYS Military Museum

 

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