Designating Flag, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Army Corps

Physical Description:
Wool bunting pennant flag. White field with wide blue border around all three edges. Red trefoil, or clover, in center of flag. Unbleached cotton heading. Machine-stitched panels with flat-felled seams. Machine-stitched turned-under edge hems. Hand-stitched pole sleeve with hand-stitched cord casing in pole sleeve (cord is not enclosed in casing). Hand-stitched flat-fell applique (red trefoil). The inscription on the hoist reads "2 ARMY CORPS 1 Div 3 Brig HORSTMANN./PHILADELPHIA.."
General Description:
Second Army Corps (3 March 1862 - 28 June 1865)
General Daniel Butterfield, who designed many of the army corps badges in detail while serving as Chief of Staff to General Philip Kearny, chose the trefoil (shamrock) for this army corps due to the Irish origin of many of the soldiers. The trefoil badge of the Second Army Corps was ordered in March 1863. Although variations came to be used, the original pattern was re instituted by General W. S. Hancock who carried the flag for the duration of the war.
According to an 1864 catalog compiled by the Military Service Institute at Governors Island, New York, the actual Second Army Corps Headquarters flag was one of the few Civil War battle flags in that museum's holdings. The 1884 MSI Catalogue description of the flag: "With a certificate, signed by Major-General Hancock, reads as follows: 'This was my headquarters flag, and (with its present staff) was carried at the head of the 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, during the Wilderness Campaign of 1864, from its commencement, May 3, 1864, and in that time was borne through the battles of the Wilderness, May 5, 6, and 7, 1864; battles of the Po, May 10, 1864, and at Spotsylvania C.H. In its present battered condition it was borne in battle for the last time during the assault made on the enemy's works at Spotsylvania, May 12, 1864. A few days afterward, a new flag was procured and I then presented these colors to my senior Aide-de-camp, Major and Bvt. Brig. Gen. William G. Mitchell, who was with me on those battlefields. I have made this memorandum to accompany the flag at the request of General Mitchell.'"
The Second Army Corps has a prestigious history; it has been called "the corps with the longer continuous service, a larger organization, hardest fighting and greatest number of casualties than any other in the eastern armies....Of the hundred Union regiments which lost the most men in battle, thirty-five belonged to the Second Corps." By reputation, "until the battle of Spotsylvania, on May 10, 1864, it never lost a gun or color." (Boatner, Mark Mayo III, the Civil War Dictionary, p. 188.)
Currently not on view
Object Name
flag, designating
date made
ca 1865
William H. Horstmann & Sons
Physical Description
wool (overall material)
cotton (part: heading material)
cotton (part: appliqe material)
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Designating Flags
Civil War
Civil War
Civil War
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
Civil War
Designating Flags
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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