Lot 5    

Sixth Plate Ambrotype of Flag Bearer with National Colors
6/23/2011 - American History, Including the Civil War
An outstanding ruby ambrotype of an unidentified bearded private holding kepi with small embroidered cross cannon insignia (no numbers). The soldier wears a nine button frock coat and regulation cavalry belt rig retaining the early over-the-shoulder strap with rectangular plate, cap box, and saber. Oral provenance relates that this is the flag of the 9th NYLA.

The flag is more likely an unidentified prop as light artillery batteries were not authorized national colors during the Civil War and, instead, were issued guidons. In addition to alternating stripes, the canton of this flag (shown in reverse) bears an unusual eagle over shield within a circle of stars, not readily identifiable as a military or state symbol. The extensive Civil War flag collection held by the New York State Military Museum (viewable online) contains nothing similar for any of the existent light batteries or heavy artillery regiments. It should be noted that the banners of the 9th NYLA and 9th Heavy Artillery are not among the museum’s holdings. Both artillery units were originally organized as infantry, the 9th NYLA from Company F. 41st Infantry (June 1861) and the 9th NYHA redesignated from the 138th Infantry in December 1862.

AUCTIONEER'S NOTE: Upon closer inspection of the ambrotype, the word "LIGHT" is visible on one of the stripes of the flag, indicating part of the unit designation. In addition, the insignia on the private's hat further indicates that he was part of the Light Artillery. This ambrotype was acquired in New York State.

AUCTIONEER'S NOTE: It has been brought to our attention that this is a photograph of Nathan Gillette, of Hebron, CT, with the national color of the 1st light Battery Connecticut Vols. This flag still exists and there is an identified photo of Gillette in the State Capitol in Hartford, CT. This appears to be the same photo but printed correctly so that the man's cap is in his right hand and the view of the flag is of its reverse. There is no known reason why the Battery received an infantry sized color, but it did. The large ungainly eagle, executed in shades of gray, appeared on almost all national colors carried by Connecticut troops.


Condition:  
The plate is noticeably dark and silvery but retains strong clarity, near EXC. with an errant finger print impression along left border. Housed in a split composition case.
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