A Guest Post | Preservation of the Original Kentucky "Alexander Guards" Flag

Greetings Blog followers! My name is Matt O’Driscoll (Mark’s eldest brother) and I volunteered to blog this month, while they are busy preparing for the newest ‘O'. 

I am a Civil War reenactor and Captain of a company representing a confederate company from the state of Kentucky. We raised money to conserve the original company flag of the unit we represent, the 1st Regiment Kentucky Volunteers, Company E – the “Alexander Guards”.

The 1st KY, Company E was a confederate unit which formed up in the first year of the war (1861) from a state which was internally divided, just like the nation at that time. Kentucky had 2 governments and supplied troops to both sides of the war.

Members of the 1st KY pay honors to the flag in 2009 

Through hard work and personal sacrifice, the members of our unit worked over the last 8 years to raise $22,000 which was donated to the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, VA for the restoration of our company flag. 

The money was donated to the museum last year and their conservators began the work of cleaning the silk, separating each metallic braid around the fringe, and every strand of silk fiber that had become entangle over the years. 

Museum Conservator Inspecting the Flag (2010 Magazine Cover) 

They even vacuumed dust and particles off the flag and had them analyzed. Often times, they will pull off 150 year old pollen which might give them a clue as to the areas and times of year the flag last saw service. Some flags may even offer up gunpowder residue or dried blood which can give clues as to who carried the flag and in which battles. Finally the flag was sealed in a frame which will help to preserve the fabric for generations. 

Recently, members of the company and some guests from the 47th Virginia, a sister unit which supported us all along the way, traveled to the museum in Richmond for the great unveiling ceremony. For many in the unit, this was the first time they had ever seen the flag in person. Other than pictures, they had never seen it in its original tattered state. This was a very satisfying end to a long hard road preserving a little piece of history for posterity.

The same three members from 2009 pay honors again
At every event, when we post a replica of our company colors, the Sergeant shouts out: “To the honor of the Alexander Guards, Post Company Colors, Present Arms!” As reenactors and historians, we strive to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on both sides of the Civil War.

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