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Rare 34-star Civil War flag returns home

Mar 23, 2011 2:35 pm
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="A rare 34-star flag from the SS Oregon, created by two Hudson women during the Civil War, has made itself back home for a summer exhibition by the Columbia County Historical Society in Kinderhook."][/caption]The Columbia County Historical Society announced in a press release on March 23 that they recently “welcomed back” a 34-star American flag that flew on the Steamship Oregon during the Civil War, whose bicentennial gets honored over the next four years. The garrison size (80.5 inches high by 123 inches wide) flag will be the centerpiece of the Society’s 2012 exhibition on Columbia County and the Civil War and recently underwent extensive conservation at Spicer Art Conservation in Delmar, NY. Before it is returned to storage until next year, CCHS will host a special 2-hour preview showing of the flag on April 2nd from 4-6pm at the James Vanderpoel House at 16 Broad Street in Kinderhook. Tickets to the special showing will go towards supporting the Civil War exhibition program at CCHS. The flag was hand-stitched by Sarah (1841-1925) and Clara Clark (1842-1934) of Hudson. Their father, William H. Clark (c.1812-1884), was a partner in Haviland, Clark and Company of Hudson, the owners of the Oregon. Inscribed in ink on the flag’s hoist is “W.H. Clark.” The 34-star flag became the official United States flag on July 4, 1861 and remained so for only two years. Abraham Lincoln was the only President to serve under this flag. This short period of use makes the flag quite rare. Beginning in 1845, the Oregon made regular trips on the Hudson River between New York and Albany and contributed to New York’s effort in the Civil War. On May 5, 1862, The Hudson Daily Star reported that “the proprietors of the steamers Oregon and Connecticut, both tendered their boats free of charge to take the sick and wounded to Troy.” It is probable that this flag was flying on the Oregon on the evening of September 5, 1862 as the steamer left Hudson bound for New York City carrying the 128th Regiment Infantry of New York Volunteers from Columbia and Dutchess Counties. The ship made many trips until October 22, 1863, when she collided with the steamer City of Boston, an accident reported in detail the next day in the New York Times. A $5,000 grant from Greater Hudson Heritage Network covered most of the cost of the flag restoration. For reservations to the Salute the Flag event, contact CCHS at 758-9265 or cchs@cchsny.org. Reservations may also be made online at www.cchsny.org.