June 18, 2016 was the 153rd anniversary of the First Rhode Island Cavalry‘s demise at the Battle of Middleburg during the U.S. Civil War. Nearly surrounded by overwhelming numbers from Jeb Stuart‘s Confederate cavalry, Col. Duffie ordered every man to try to get away. Out of roughly 280 soldiers, only 27 made it out. In the midst of the fray, this guidon flag of Company L was captured late in the morning of June 18th, 1863. The guidon flag is one of the newer exhibits at the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum in East Greenwich, RI. Click here to book a tour at the armory!
We plan to mount a plexiglass sheet with museum-quality ultra-violet protection over the flag’s existing archival-safe matting and frame. The treated plexiglass will protect the flag from light damage and will keep curious fingers and dust off of the cloth. The display’s backside is open to the unbleached linen backing to allow the flag to breathe.
While the custom framing is ordered and built, the flag will be professionally cleaned previous to display in the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum. To book a tour of the Armory’s military history collection, just click here.
The 1st Rhode Island Cavalry Regiment (Company L) guidon flag is now on loan to the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum! This stunning piece of American Civil War history is on display at the armory through a generous loan from the Rhode Island National Guard (RING). Book a tour at the armory to view this exciting new exhibit!
This flag has witnessed some of the most ferocious and important cavalry battles of the Civil War. It was present for the Gettysburg Campaign where the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry Company were tasked with finding General Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern Virginia as it moved north through the Shenandoah Valley towards Maryland and eventually Pennsylvania.
But to find Lee’s Arm, they first had to punch through Confederate General Jeb Stuart’s cavalry screens guarding the mountain gaps. At Middleburg, VA, the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry Company were essentially surrounded and attacked by a North Carolina regiment. Out of roughly 280 men, the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry Company lost 250 or so (most being captured).
This flag (belonging to Company L) was captured on that day, June 17, 1863. The flag remained in North Carolina in a museum for over 100 years before North Carolina returned the flag to Rhode Island in a ceremony held at the armory in 2008. The RING has been keeper of the flag ever since. Thank you RING for this generous loan!
Armory Curator Patrick Donovan and Varnum Continentals Treasurer Tim Jackson (along with other volunteers) have made great progress toward the renovation of the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum’s exhibit spaces. There’s be demolition, new LED lighting for display cases, lining of display cases with unbleached linen, and overall painting. Once that’s done, we will put down a new floor. The goal is to finish all of it before Memorial Day.
The renovation is taking place in a small part of the museum, so we’re still open for tours.
CLICK HERE TO TOUR THE ARMORY!
This set has its original paint and appears to have been actually used in the field to load and swab the bore of a 6-pounder cannon. It comes from the Valley Forge Historical Society, having been acquired by them in the 1910s. The collection at that time was said to have come from Antietam and Gettysburg; both not too far from Valley Forge. It’s amazing that the lambs wool (or carpet?) still remains on the sponge head! This is extremely rare! Book a tour to see this exciting piece.