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Nebraska’s Civil War Flags


Much of this 35-star flag has disintegrated and is mounted on a black backing for protection. Battle honors were commonly stitched on regimental colors. This First Nebraska flag bears the names of Milford, Donalson (sic), Shiloh, Corinth and Cape Girardeau. Under the heading “1st Regt. Nebraska Cav.” are Chalk Bluff, Sycamore, Red Bank and Jacksonport.

History Nebraska, 7135-389-(1)

By David L. Bristow, History Nebraska

As we’ve just celebrated another Veterans Day, here are three flags belonging to the first soldiers to formally represent Nebraska in the U.S. Army.

Nebraska Territory had only about 9,000 men of military age when the Civil War began, but it sent more than 3,000 of them into the Union armies. The First Nebraska Infantry Regiment fought in two major battles in 1862, playing a crucial role at the Battle of Fort Donelson and fighting bravely at Shiloh.

Later, mounted as cavalry, the two Nebraska regiments guarded overland trails in Nebraska’s Platte Valley. Statehood followed two years after the end of the war. 

Visit History Nebraska’s website at history.nebraska.gov.

In 1863, the First Nebraska was mounted as a cavalry regiment. It served in the Platte Valley from August 1864 until it was mustered out in July 1866. History Nebraska, 8611-4
Flag of First Nebraska Regiment, Company A, 1861. States and territories organized recruits into thousand-man regiments, and young men from the same town usually filled hundred-man companies. Company A was organized in Plattsmouth.
Mrs. O. F. Johnson sewed the company’s flag. It was said she had the only sewing machine in town. Many years later, the flag came to History Nebraska in fragile condition. Its blue field is all but gone, and at some point, its remaining 26 stars were mounted to a new backing — and not very neatly.
Mrs. Johnson’s stripes are a bit uneven, but we assume she placed her 34 stars with more care. The U.S. had 34 states after Kansas joined the Union in January 1861. During the war years, new U.S. flags added stars for Kansas, West Virginia (1863) and Nevada (1864), but did not — as a matter of principle — subtract the 11 seceded states from the Perpetual Union. History Nebraska, 2046
Pvt. James Hutton, age 19, Co. E, First Nebraska, circa 1861.
History Nebraska, rg2057-40
This ad appeared in the Nebraska Advertiser (Brownville), on May 23, 1861. The Brownville company traveled by steamboat to Omaha City, where it was mustered into the First Nebraska Regiment.