Hoag Library on July 14 will unveil restored Civil War flag for 26th U.S. Colored Infantry

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 June 2021 at 10:06 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Hoag Library has a flag from an African-American unit that fought in the Civil War. The flag has 35 stars. That’s how many stars were on the flag for two years from 1863 to 1865. The flag was picked up last week from a textile conservator after a restoration.

ALBION – A tattered Civil War flag for the 26th U.S. Colored Infantry has been cleaned and restored. Hoag Library officials picked up the flag last week from the textile conservator in Delmar near Albany.

An anonymous donor contributed $10,000 for the restoration. The flag will be unveiled from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 14 at the library.

The flag is from a Colored Troops regiment. The 26th Regiment United States Colored Troops wasn’t for a local unit. Those troops were based out of New York City, although former County Historian Matt Ballard said the group was led by a local white soldier, Charles H. Mattison of Barre.

The library trustees in March 2019 felt it would be costly for the library to preserve the flag and then to properly display it. The trustees didn’t think the library should have the responsibility of caring for an artifact that didn’t originate in the local community.

But the community spoke out and urged Hoag to keep the flag. A donor offered to pay to have the flag be cleaned and restored.

Spicer Art Conservation, LLC, did the work on the flag. The firm that has cleaned and restored many Civil War flags, and even one from the War of 1812, which was a half century before the Civil War.

Gwen Spicer, owner of Spicer Art Conservation, did the work restoration work on the flag owned by Hoag Library. She has worked on many historically significant flags and banners, including a pre-Revolutionary War “Liberty” flag and Civil War flags. She has treated flags from every American conflict from the Revolutionary War to the present.

The flag was in a frame for many years. The white stripes in particular were badly deteriorated.