Flying the Flag

This Flag Day, as we celebrate the official birthday of the American flag, we would like to mark the occasion with some historic flag stories from our collections.

Rumford flag
Flag made for Charles Rumford by Emily Wollaston (DHS collection, gift of Lewis Rumford)

This hand-sewn, thirty-four star flag was made by Emily G. Rumford Wollaston (1823-1886) of Wilmington for her half-brother, Charles Grubb Rumford (1841-1901), who carried it with him during his service in the Civil War. Charles G. Rumford studied Law under his uncle, Delaware Chief Justice Edward W. Gilpin. During the Civil War, Rumford served from 1862-1865 as a First Lieutenant in the First Delaware Light Artillery Battery, also known as Nields’ Independent Battery, under Captain Benjamin Nields. Rumford clearly did not want to lose this flag as it accompanied him on his tour of duty, so he wrote his name and address, “Rumford, 1401 Market St.,” on the third stripe from the bottom. Both the flag and Rumford survived the war and the flag was later donated to the Society in 1944 by his son Lewis.

Moore flag
Fort Delaware flag presented to Edwin C. Moore (DHS collection, gift of Isabella Klabe)

This thirty-four star flag flew over Fort Delaware in 1863, when the Fifth Delaware Regiment was stationed there to guard Confederate prisoners during the Civil War. The canton originally contained thirty-two printed white stars but two additional stars have also been hand-sewn onto it. According to the donor, this flag was given to First Sergeant Edwin C. Moore of Company E as a souvenir when the regiment was mustered out of service in Wilmington on August 10, 1863. This flag is also marked with the owner’s name, “Edw Moore flag, EM.”

Middleton flag
Middleton family flag (DHS collection)

This thirty-six star flag originally belonged to Mrs. C.S. Middleton of 820 West Street in Wilmington and was made by her mother at the end of the Civil War. The flag is entirely hand-made, with seven red strips of wool and six of white cotton with thirty-six carefully hand-sewn stars. The three edges are also carefully rolled and neatly hand-stitched. This flag was a treasured Middleton family heirloom and later proudly hung in the window of their home to celebrate the end of World War I.

Happy Flag Day!


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