Mystery of the Battle Flag

A battle flag was presented to the men of Schooley’s Battery prior to their departure to Camp Curtin. William Phillips describes the scene in his letter of August 13, 1862. He writes, “After we got to Pittston….we were treated in magnificent style by the ladies of Pittston with a silk flag, inscribed ‘Schooley’s Battery.'” With these few words a mystery was solved — the mystery of what was on the missing piece of the flag.

To continue the story we must fast forward to modern day Pittston. At some point in the history of the flag, either during or after the Civil War, a large portion of the flag was cut from the center of the 34 star field and went missing. The now altered flag, along with a presentation box and plaque eventually found its way to the home of a Pittston family. The flag moved from the attic to the basement and was handed down from generation to generation.

Carmella Lombardo always remembered the flag being at her great-great grandmother’s house. When her son was remodeling the old house she took the flag home and began studying it. By researching on the internet Carmella learned of Schooley’s Battery and the story of the presentation of the flag by “the Ladies of Pittston.” What remained a mystery was the missing piece of the flag. Why was a circle cut from the center of the 34 star flag? Where did it go ? What did it contain?

The mystery of why the flag was cut and where the missing piece went remains. Maybe it was presented to Captain Schooley. Perhaps it was cut apart and distributed among the men as mementos of their service. It is also possible that the flag was altered when Schooley’s Battery was attached to the 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery and redesignated Company M. Several of the flags of the regiment still exist but Battery M’s disappearance is considered a historical mystery. Perhaps the inscription was cut out, discarded and replaced with “Company M.”

What we discovered from William’s letter is that the missing piece contained the inscription “Schooley’s Battery.” This fact was later reconfirmed when a reader of this website uncovered a long buried article from the Pittston Gazette describing the flag presentation and the inscription.

On a personal note: while researching the Civil War experiences and letters of my great-great grandfather, I was fortunate enough to make contact with Carmella Lombardo. Several years ago I travelled from my home in Los Angeles and visited Carmella in Pittston. While I was there she was gracious enough to get the flag and presentation plaque down from her attic so I could see them and take the photos that are included with this post. She also provided the story on the flag reprinted from the Wyoming Valley Sunday Dispatch dated August 31, 2003. –Greg Taylor

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Flag Article 2

Flag Article - Version 2

Flag Article 2

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