The 33rd Regiment North Carolina State Troops first saw battle at New Bern on March 14, 1862. There the unit lost 32 men and 28 were wounded. Union Brig. Gen. John G. Foster reported the capture of the 33rd Regiment’s commander, Col. Clark M. Avery, and 150 of his men during the battle. It is likely that the regiment’s flag, a standard wool bunting flag of North Carolina, was captured at the same time.
This historic banner is part of the Confederate flag collection, one of the nation’s largest, at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Conservation of these banners requires expensive, specialized textile treatment. To help fund this need, the museum has formed a partnership with the 26th Regiment North Carolina Troops, Reactivated, the state’s largest Civil War re-enactment group.
During a Dec. 13, 2014, presentation at the Museum of History, the 26th Regiment unveiled the newly conserved colors of the 33rd Regiment North Carolina State Troops. The flag will be featured in a future exhibit.
“This early war flag, an example of the first state flag design, represents the service and sacrifice of those North Carolinians who volunteered to defend the state from Federal invasion,” says Jackson Marshall, Deputy Director, Museum of History. “It is the eighth North Carolina Confederate flag from the Civil War that the 26th Regiment organization has raised the funds to conserve, totaling over $55,000 donated to the museum since 2004.”
The 33rd Regiment eventually became part of the Branch-Lane Brigade and saw active service in the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until the end of the war, when 119 members were paroled at Appomattox Court House, Va., on April 12, 1865.
According to an Oct. 15, 1917, article in the Raleigh News and Observer, Brig. Gen. Foster gave the 33rd Regiment’s flag to his friend Col. John L. Lay, who passed it on to his sister, Mary A. Ensign of Buffalo, N.Y. Eventually, the banner came to the attention of Rev. Charles A. Jessup, a friend of Ensign’s, who urged that it be returned to North Carolina. Jessup contacted Mary Eugene Little of Wadesboro, who then informed North Carolina governor Thomas W. Bickett of Ensign’s wish to return the flag. The regimental colors were returned to the Hall of History (now North Carolina Museum of History) on Oct. 14, 1917.
“Artifacts, such as the colors of the 33rd Regiment, must be conserved so that the story they tell will carry on,” notes Chris Roberts, colonel of the 26th Regiment. “Only by stepping forward and committing ourselves to preservation will these precious elements of our past be there for future generations.”
For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or YouTube. To learn more about the 26th Regiment North Carolina Troops, Reactivated, access www.26nc.org.
About the N.C. Museum of History
The N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is located at 5 E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The museum collects and preserves artifacts of North Carolina history and educates the public on the history of the state and the nation through exhibits and educational programs. Each year more than 300,000 people visit the museum to see some of the 150,000 artifacts in the museum collection. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
About the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan W. Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission to enrich lives and communities creates opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.
Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and economic stimulus engines for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of Archives and Records, State Historic Sites, and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state, developing and supporting access to traditional and online collections such as genealogy and resources for people who are blind and have physical disabilities.
NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported symphony orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives of North Carolina. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call 919-807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.