The flags of the 76th NY

On December 16, 2002, we received the following message from Christopher Morton, registrar and flag person at the New York State Military Museum, about the Regimental Colors of the 76th NY:

We have 2 flags (one National, one regimental) associated with the 76th Regt. When we inventoried the collection a couple years back we found only one flag associated with the 76th - the regimental. I selected the regimental color for the next capitol flag exhibit. I transferred the 76th Regimental to Peebles Island in November. When Sarah and I unfurled the much tattered never before treated regimental we discovered the National had been furled to the same staff underneath the regimental! We separated the regimental from the staff (so it can receive treatment for the exhibit) but left the national furled upon the staff because no space exists to treat/flat store the national. It appears as if very little remains from the national. The regimental is also in rough shape with the entire central design gone. In any event, to summarize, we have the national and regimental from the 76th, both currently at PI, the regimental will receive treatment and go on display at the capitol in the spring, and the national got wrapped and placed into storage at PI.

The following was received in April, 2003, from Michael Aikey, Director, New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center:

The New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project will commemorate the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg with a new battle flag exhibit at the New York State Capitol entitled “Banners From the Battlefield : New York Flags at Gettysburg.”  The exhibition, scheduled to open on July 2, 2003, will feature ten flags carried by New York State regiments into combat between July 1 – 3, 1863.

 The New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA) is responsible  for the care and interpretation of New York State’s Battle Flag Collection, a group of over 1,700 military flags including approximately 60% from the Civil War.  Many of the flags are in poor condition due to age, improper storage, and exposure to light, temperature variations and dust.  In 1997, DMNA and Textile Conservators from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) surveyed the collection and prepared a conservation plan that includes the establishment of a flag archive.  Governor George Pataki and the New York State Legislature provided funding beginning in 2000 to implement the survey’s recommendations and to initiate the Battle Flag Preservation Project.  In October 2002, Governor Pataki opened a new home for the DMNA collection - the New York State Military Museum & Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Additional rehabilitation of the historic state armory is proposed to establish an archive of preserved flags from the New York State Battle Flag Collection. 

 “Banners From the Battlefield : New York Flags at Gettysburg” is the fourth installment in the Project’s exhibition series designed to raise awareness about the collection’s conservation needs and to interpretively display conserved pieces from the collection.  Each flag within “Banners From the Battlefield : New York Flags at Gettysburg” has been conserved by the OPRHP, at the Peebles Island Resource Center in Waterford, New York.  The exhibit will include the 76th Infantry regimental: S.R. Campbell, on behalf of his mother, Mrs. Samuel Campbell of York Mills, presented a stand of colors, believed to have included this regimental, to the 76th Regiment at the State Capitol, Albany, on January 17, 1862.  John Cook, Colonel of the regiment who assumed command at Gettysburg on July 1, deposited this flag with the state in 1870.  

For more information on the Battle Flag project, see:

Picture of 76th NY Regimental Flag courtesy Pat Stepanek

A book was printed when the Regimental Flags of the various New York Volunteer regiments were presented to the state on July 4, 1865, reporting the speeches given and providing a brief history of each regiment and its flags. This is the entry for the 76th NY:


1. National Flag, silk; in tatters; original staff gone.

This Flag was presented to the Regiment, on the steps of the Capitol in Albany, on its departure for the field, by Mrs. CAMPBELL, of York Mills, Oneida Co., with public ceremonies. It was carried until December, 1863, during which time it was borne in the battles of Rappahannock Station, Warrenton, Sulphur Springs, Gainesville, 2d Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Upperville, Fredericksburgh, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Mine Run. It received fifteen musket balls and one twelve-pound shot through it in action. The Color-Bearer, Sergeant Champ, was killed at South Mountain. At Gettysburg, the Color-Bearer was wounded just as the Regiment was falling back, and came near being captured, but was rescued by Private John Stephens, of Company H, who left the ranks under the fire of the enemy, and recovered the Flag in safety.

In the campaign of 1864-5, it was in all the battles of the Fifth Corps. About 100 men reenlisted in Jan., 1864, and the Regiment was made up by transfers and conscripts, having had over 2,000 names on its rolls. In Jan., 1865, its veterans were consolidated with the 147th, and subsequently with the 91st, and came home with the latter Regiment.

The organization of the 76th, or " Cortland Regiment," was commenced at Cortland village, N. Y., and embraced volunteers from the counties of Cortland, Tompkins, Tioga and Madison. Its head-quarters were removed to Albany, Dec. 18th, 1861, where two of its companies were transferred to other organizations, and the balance consolidated with volunteers for the 39th Otsego or Cherry Valley Regiment, raised in the counties of Otsego, Chenango and Schoharie. It left Albany, Jan. 17th, 1862, but did not enter into active service in the field until August 9th, when it joined the forces under General POPE at Culpepper Court House. The battles in which the Regiment was engaged, up to the close of the campaign of 1863, have already been stated. Represented by Capt. Ed. B. Cochrane.

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