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    The 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry's Walter S. Newhall Memorial Flag

    Important Painted Silk Presentation Flag of The 3rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, 54" x 60", maker unknown. A professionally rendered Great Seal of the State of Pennsylvania dominates one side of this historic and attractive Union regimental banner. Set against a dark blue background having yellow fringe, the state's colorful seal is meticulously painted with special attention given to the interplay between light and shadow. A scrolled foliate border encloses this central device and incorporates two flowing streamers on which dedications are made. The upper banner reads "In Memory Of Captain Walter S. Newhall" while the lower one is "To The Third Pennsyla. Cavalry, Dec: 1863". The flag, though certainly eye-catching, needs conservation since its fields are considerably degraded by loss and separation. This issue was crudely addressed during the early 20th century by backing the flag with a more stable matrix. As a result, there are numerous tiny stitches visible throughout. Some fading has also occurred over the years. This is especially evident in the background, which is of three-piece construction. Color variations between these elements indicate that different batches of silk and/or dyes were used.

    In late December, 1863 Philadelphia politician Clement Barclay traveled to Virginia on behalf of the city's well-wishers and presented this battle flag to the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry then encamped near Warrenton. The regiment carried this standard for the rest of the war, raising it over the Wilderness, Petersburg, and Appomattox. At war's end, the flag was retired and given to Captain Newhall's family, who would maintain custody of the relic into the 21st century.

    When first made, the flag did not name Captain Newhall and was likely intended as a token of thanks to Philadelphia's homegrown cavalry for their part in stopping the rebels at Gettysburg. The original upper banner read "Presented By The Grateful Citizens Of Philadelphia" but was altered after Newhall was tragically killed on December 18, 1863.

    Walter Symons Newhall (1841-1863) was born in Philadelphia and raised in Germantown. A gifted athlete, Newhall began preparing himself for military service early in 1861. Securing a 2nd lieutenant's commission, the young Pennsylvanian soon found himself in Missouri serving directly under General John Fremont, renowned explorer and first presidential candidate of the Republican Party. Newhall saw some combat under Fremont in Missouri, was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, and managed to find a place in the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry by January, 1862. The Peninsular Campaign that opened with the spring offered Newhall a chance to prove his abilities. He successfully rode as a courier and became an aide to General Heintzelman. A promotion to captain followed on June 23. Although the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry participated in the Army of the Potomac's major engagements throughout 1862 and early 1863, Newhall's grand "moment" came at Gettysburg on the second day. Rushing to assist George Armstrong Custer's 1st Michigan Cavalry, Newhall attacked Wade Hampton's cavalry and was severely wounded in the process by color bearer William Harrison of the 13th Virginia Cavalry. The Pennsylvanian's brave attempt to capture a Confederate flag, although unsuccessful, made him a hero to the men of his regiment and to the folks back home.

    Captain Newhall's wounds healed after some three months, and he began the journey north for Christmas with his family. On December 18, while en route to Pennsylvania, Newhall's horse slipped while crossing an icy tributary feeding the Rappahannock River. Newhall sadly drowned in the accident, being pinned underwater beneath his fallen horse. After two years of gallant frontline service with the 3rd Pennsylvania, culminating in heroism at Gettysburg, Newhall was deeply mourned by all. The new regimental flag, yet to be presented, was quickly altered to bear Newhall's name and thus serve as an inspiration to those who would fight on to ensure the Union's ultimate victory.

    Included with the flag are two highly important associated books as follows: Walter S. Newhall. A Memoir, various editors, (Philadelphia: C. Sherman & Son, 1864), 140 pages, 8vo (6" x 8.5"), card covers. This life of Newhall was published at the request of the Philadelphia Sanitary Commission. The narrative is largely drawn from his own letters. A front free endpaper is inscribed by the deceased's brother, Captain Frederick Newhall, "To Miss Charlotte G. Emery. With kind regards. F. Newhall Philad. Mar. 26th 1864.". Covers worn with loose spine, mild internal foxing. Good condition. The second book is History of the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry compiled by the Regimental History Committee, (Philadelphia: Franklin Printing Company, 1905), 614 pp., 4to (7" x 10"), blue card covers. This detailed regimental history contains a full page photograph of the Newhall Memorial Flag offered here. Two library plates on inside front cover, internally fine, covers worn. Very good condition.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    24th-25th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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