Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Dinwiddie County's Battle Flag

From the Progress Index of 04/26/2003, by Cliff Davis, Staff Writer

History reflected in restored Civil War flag

DINWIDDIE - Pamplin Historical Park told a love story yesterday from long ago: Of Dinwiddie women, not allowed to fight for their Southern homeland, who sought a way to show their patriotic passion.Of Dinwiddie men, who did fight - under a bright blue banner that those women had sewn for them. And of their admirers and descendants, nearly two centuries later, rescuing that flag, restoring its beauty and unveiling it at the Civil War pride and joy of Dinwiddie County, Pamplin Historical Park.
Step back in time:
In July 1861, volunteers with the Dinwiddie Cavalry became Company K, 3rd Virginia Cavalry Regiment, of the Confederate States of America. They were sent to protect the Tidewater Peninsula from the Union forces and they took their banner with them. It bore the state seal of Virginia on the back and on the front, the inscription, "Presented by the Ladies of Dinwiddie County to the Dinwiddie Cavalry." But a year later, in retreat after a skirmish with Union forces near Williamsburg, their precious flag somehow was lost.For nearly 80 years after that, it was kept by the family of the late Col. David Campbell, of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The Campbells finally sent it back to Dinwiddie in 1941.
From then until 1998, the flag was displayed at the Dinwiddie Clerk's Office, then the Historic Fork Inn in Sutherland. Along the way, light, air and humidity drained away its color and damaged the fragile silk fibers. It was on a slow course to oblivion.
Until now.
About 30 people watched quietly on Saturday as John Chappell, president of the Dinwiddie County Historical Society; and Bobby Bowman, chairman of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors, lifted a cover cloth from that flag, now protected behind glass after a painstaking conservation effort. "We're celebrating a wonderful partnership that has combined to preserve a valuable part of Dinwiddie history. Tens of thousands of visitors will be able to see (this flag) every year," said A. Wilson Greene, executive director of Pamplin Historical Park. Maryland-based Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. put their nationally-renowned expert, Fonda Thomsen, to work on the flag. Over a three-month period, she brought back its vivid blue hue and strengthened its silk threads, Greene said. No public money was spent on Thomsen's work, Bowen said. Fund-raising credit belongs to the Dinwiddie County Historical Society, and to Pamplin Park, which paid half the $8,400 cost, Chappell said. "It's amazing that the flag was in any condition to even be able to be restored, after more than 140 years," Chappell said. But now it's safe and it's home, in Dinwiddie County, where more Civil War history took place than anywhere else in the nation, according to Greene. The flag will be on exhibit at Pamplin for a while, then possibly be displayed at the old Dinwiddie Courthouse, Chappell said. The ladies of long ago would surely approve. "It's a treasure that the people of Dinwiddie can be proud of," said Betty Bowen, a charter member of the Dinwiddie County Historical Society.

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