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NY to unfurl latest Civil War battle flag exhibit

ALBANY -- Almost 150 years to the day it was carried into the bloodiest day of combat on U.S. soil, the tattered remnants of a New York infantry unit's regimental flag is going on display at the state Capitol.

The flag and eight other banners from the state's battle flags collection are part of the newest installment of an ongoing exhibit commemorating the Civil War's sesquicentennial.

Officials from the state parks office and Division of Military and Naval Affairs plan on Wednesday to officially open the new exhibit, titled "1862: Red, White and Battered." The exhibit features nine flags that were significant during the second year of the war, when the fighting between the North and South intensified and the bloodshed began to hit home.

None of the battles was bloodier than the one fought at Antietam in Maryland on Sept. 17, 1862, when 23,000 men were reported killed, wounded or missing.

Among the casualties were 233 men in New York's 9th Volunteer Infantry, a regiment recruited mostly from New York City and the Hudson Valley.

At Antietam, a captain grabbed the regimental flag from the fallen color bearer and rallied his troops during an attack on a Confederate position. Only the red silk flag's left half survives, bearing part of the regiment's name and motto: "Tourjours Pret," French for "always ready."

The state is in the 13th year of an ongoing project to conserve its collection of 2,000 battle flags, including about 900 from the Civil War, the largest such collection in the nation.

The Capitol's first Civil War battle flag exhibit opened in July 2011. The new exhibit will run through next spring.

State & Region