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!