of the modified regulation cavalry pattern adopted in January 1862, possibly made by either Horstmann or Evans & Hassall, Philadelphia. Constructed of heavy silk with 35-star light blue canton having inner ring of 12 hand-sewn dark blue five-pointed stars surrounded by concentric ring of 19 matching stars with four matching corner stars. Thirteen red and white striped fly with sewn sleeve hoist made from ends of the canton and fly, overall 27" x 35.5".
With marvelous provenance pasted to backing of white silk and framed with an early 20th century manuscript letter sheet relating the extraordinary circumstances of how the flag was preserved, This flag was a Quarter Flag of Co. B/First Virginia Cavalry at the Battle of Antietam/Aug. 16, 1862 (the date is in error). The quarter bearer was wounded/and dropped this flag and Captain Boone/ordered Serg. James Shaw to get the flag./Shortly after he got the flag his horse fell/and wounded his knee./That night he torn the flag from its staff and bandaged/his wounded knee with it./The next morning he reported to headquarters, a missing flag, and in fear of an inves-/tigation he sent it to Mary Boyer at Con-/nonsburgh, Pa, who afterwards became his wife./James Shaw was born near Washington,/Pa. April 1st, 1841-Enlisted in the First Virginia/Cavalry at Wheeling, W.V., Sept. 1861 and served/4 yrs. and 13 days. He was an orderly of/Gen. Custer, and an aid to Gen. Phil./Sheridan, and had the distinction of carrying/the National Colors at the Grand Review at/Washington D.C. at the close of the War./He Departed this life March 8, 1913, in period frame, 29.75" x 37.5".
There is nothing in the Official Records documenting the two companies of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry present during the Antietam campaign and very little anecdotal information. James Shaw had enlisted as Company B Quartermaster Sergeant and served for the duration. Some incidental genealogical information pertaining to Shaw is found on the internet while his National Archives records would surely reveal more substantive details of his service. Lieutenant, later Captain Hugh Patterson Boon would earn the Medal of Honor for "gallantry" at Saylor’s Creek in April 1865 — one of eight 1st West Virginia Cavalry men so honored. While well-armed and decently mounted, the Federal cavalry at Antietam was poorly led, dispersed among the divisions and corps of the Army and never in position to affect a tactical, much less strategic decision against Lee even during the retreat from Maryland. Like the rest of the cavalry corps, the 1st West Virginia Cavalry would earn its spurs, fighting in over 75 battles and engagements, including Gettysburg while losing 81 men killed and mortally wounded. Perhaps the best documented Civil War flag we have ever sold.
Condition: As above, with stains on canton, fly end truncated and many small tears, still very good.