A brief history of the company I colours
In April 1861, when word was received of Kane’s recruiting for the regiment, the companies that eventually became C, G, and I, gathered on the upper reaches of the Susquehanna River and floated by raft to Lock Haven, where they then boarded trains to Harrisburg. Before leaving home, the men of Company I, recruited in McKean County, received a wool bunting flag to take with them. The lead raft carried this flag.
When Kane divided the regiment into two wings, the banner was carried by Kane’s four companies into the Shenandoah Valley. This detachment engaged Jackson’s troops at Harrisonburg on June 6th 1862, at Cross Keys on June 8th, and again at Cedar Mountain on August 9th. The detachment was present at Cattle’s Station when the famed Rebel cavalry leader JEB Stuart raided General Pope’s headquarters there on August 22nd. Kane’s men attacked during the night and succeeded in driving off the Rebel raiders before more damage was done to Pope’s wagon train.
The original Co. I colour. (larger image)
It’s poor condition is partly due to battle scars and partly due to the fact that it was unfortunately stored whilst still wet after the July 4th. 1866 ceremony.
The detachment then fought in the Seconded Battle of Manassas on August 29th -30th, and was the last of the Federal troops to cross Bull Run as the army retreated to Washington. The companies under Major Stone’s command also fought in this battle as part the Reserve Division, and as the column retreated to Washington the regiment was finally united as one body of men.
Owing to the loss of the state colour, Company I’s flag was used as the regimental colour. The company I colour was used as the regimental colour until the regiment was presented with a new national flag from the 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers on May 15th, 1863.
The company I flag was given to Colonel Kane when the Bucktails mustered out of service, and he forwarded it to state care in time for the July 4th 1866, ceremony.
The flag in now in the care of the Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee (CPC), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. who in 1982 began a “Save the Flags” project and have now conserved over 400 American Civil War and Spanish American flags. On their web site you can search for details on all the flags in their collection, order prints and even arrange viewing’s. The following is an extraction from their records of the company I colour prior to conservation:
CAPITOL PRESERVATION COMMITTEE PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL WAR FLAG PROJECT DESIGN AND CONDITION COMMENTS
REGISTRATION NO.: 1985.047
This is a national color, wool bunting flag. The regimental designation, “Kane’s Rifles” is located on the first white stripe. Battle honors are found on the 6 white stripes and are painted black.
The blue canton contains 30 white cotton stars, hand-stitched to the wool ground. They are placed in 5 rows of 6 stars. The stars are all 5-point. The replacement star in upper left corner of canton is slightly larger than the original stars.
All seams are hand-stitched. The stripe seams are sewn with an off-white cellulosic thread, while the canton seams are sewn with a darker brown thread. The stars are stitched with off-white thread.
The bucktail nailed to the finial measures approximately 10″ x 2 3/4″. Three nails are embedded in staff. One is 25″ from top. Two tacks are close together near the center of staff with fragments of red wool attached.
There is no pole sleeve; the flag was tacked directly onto the staff through the wool of the flag; the raw cut edge is visible.
The flag is in relatively good condition, but fragile. It is very dusty and soiled. Some fading and discoloration has occurred. Insect damage may have occurred to the wool.