Civil War Union Cavalry Swallowtail Guidon Flag belonging to Corporal Marcellus Ovando Messer (1842-1938), 19th Regt., Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company C. The silk flag has a double wreath of 35 gilt-painted stars, indicating use between the admission of West Virginia as a state in 1863, and the admission of Nevada in 1865; canton and stripes are pieced and treadle-sewn. 26 14" x 36 3/4" sight, 30" x 40" framed. Note: according to flag historian Greg Biggs, the U.S. contracted for more of these guidons than the cavalry could use, so standards like this one were issued to infantry regiments as guide flags, which were placed on the left and right flanks of the regiment to help form their line of battle. The battles in which the 19th Ohio engaged were among the war's most infamous and included Shiloh, Missionary Ridge, and Chickamauga. They also participated in the Atlanta campaign, under General William Tecumseh Sherman. In all, the 19th regiment participated in 21 battles and crossed Tennessee 16 times, marching over 6,000 miles and traveling another 6,500 by rail and water. Cpl. Messer was born Nov. 2, 1842 in Guilford, New Hampshire. His family moved to Warren, Ohio when he was 14. When the Civil War broke out, Messer joined the 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company C., on Sept. 7, 1861 and was promoted to Corporal in 1863. According to his discharge record, he was discharged as a corporal on Dec. 31, 1863 at Flat Creek, Tennessee "by reason of re-enlistment as a veteran volunteer" and again served in C Company. After Lee's surrender, he went to Texas as part of General Grant's army to monitor Mexican Emperor Maximillian. He was discharged Oct. 24, 1865 at San Antonio. According to his records, he "served continually in the same Company and Regiment through the entire war… without being sick or wounded or on detached service, and having never missed a battle in which the regiment was engaged. He did not taste of liquor while in the service." After the war, Messer returned to Warren, Ohio, and married Frances "Frannie" M. Dickey. They had one son and lived in the old Dickey homestead. Messer, a Republican, went on to serve as a member of the city council for five years in the 1880s and on other municipal boards. He also served as a bailiff in the Probate Court for more than 20 years. Note: Some of this biographical information comes from a newspaper article on Messer in the Youngstown OH Vindicator newspaper, August 14, 2005. A copy of the article is included with this lot. Provenance: by descent in the Messer family to present consignor. Note: remnants of a box formerly used to store the flag bore this inscription: "A regimental flag of the 19 O.V.I. carried during Nov. 1861-65." CONDITION: 4 1/4" tear upper center canton, with two holes – 2" diameter and 1 1/2" L – at center right edge of canton. Two 1" to 1 1/2" L holes to stripes along sleeve. Center with 3" hole/loss; each tip with losses and fraying. Several other small holes and slits; light fading, staining, discoloration and creasing throughout. Flag has been mounted (not glued down) atop white matting, under acrylic, and framed in a molded giltwood frame.
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