Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Military miniatures galore this weekend at Gettysburg as part of flag conservation effort. A painting class gets things started

Joshua Chamberlain, 20th Tenn., 146th NY (Courtesy of Mike Stelzel)
Visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park this weekend will see up to 300 military miniatures at an exhibition that will support efforts to conserve the park’s 2nd North Carolina Infantry flag.

The park, the Gettysburg Foundation and the Artist Preservation Group (APG) are putting on the event at the museum and visitor center on Saturday and Sunday.

The APG – made of historical artists who support preservation efforts – will donate nearly $15,000 at the end of the weekend to cover all conservation costs.

“The main effort of the miniatures exhibition will focus on educating visitors about the history of the Civil War, the interpretation of the conflict through miniature art, and the material culture used by both sides in the conflict,” the park said in a news release.

A large part of the flag funding will come from a sold-out miniatures painting class that kicks off the four-day event. Funding also comes from raffles, sale of other art work and donations, founder Mike Stelzel told the Civil War Picket. (The APG has invited artists to exhibit their work during the Gettysburg event).

A new Berdan’s Sharpshooters figure (left) and supplies will be sold to 30 participants in the Thursday and Friday painting class, Stelzel said. “Artists like to paint the uniform as it is different than the normal ACW (American Civil War),” he said. “It's also a popular unit with many ACW miniature enthusiasts.”

The class, sponsored by Scale 75 USA, will feature artist Julio Cabos as instructor.

“Julio is one of the best in the world,” Stelzel said. “(He) paints a piece and donates that to us for one of our auctions. His work demands a very high price at auction.”

Stelzel said the nonprofit APG wants to promote the miniatures hobby to the public.

“We all enjoy engaging with the public taking about our art form. The most common remark we here is, ‘I had no idea something like this exists.’ We hope, too, that this might draw people to the park and (expose) them to our American history. Everyone wins.”

Officials said the 2nd North Carolina likely carried the flag at Gettysburg in July 1863. The regiment brought 243 men to the field and suffered 61 casualties in three days of fighting.

Park spokesman Jason Martz says the current condition of the banner “is fair, yet stable.”

The flag was likely issued shortly before the battle  (GNMP)
“Older stabilizations from the 1980s, however, detract from the presentation of the flag while on exhibit due to their age and color. This project will vastly improve the stabilization and appearance on exhibit,” Martz said in an email.

The flag has typical characteristics of third bunting issue flags produced by the Richmond Clothing Bureau (RBC) from British-produced wool bunting for issuance to the Army of Northern Virginia in May 1863.

It was on exhibit at the park from 1987 until 2008 and then briefly from 2010 to 2012.  It has been on rest and in storage since 2012. Officials say conservation will allow for future display at the visitor center museum. (The flag will not be shown this weekend).

“A new conservation treatment will include unmounting the flag from its current support, removal of old encapsulation and underlays, documentation, (and) custom dying of new underlays/overlays for improved appearance and protection,” the park said.

The flag lists some of the battles in which the 2nd North Carolina fought. The appearance of the Chancellorsville battle honor suggests an issuance of this flag to replace the regimental flag captured at Fredericksburg, the park says.

The regiment, formed in 1861, was part of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

Cushing's battery in action at Gettysburg (Mike Stelzel)
The late Angela Rosensteel Eckert and Lawrence Eckert donated the flag to Gettysburg National Military Park in 1987. The couple operated the Gettysburg National Museum and Electric Map for many years.

The exhibition will take place Saturday and Sunday at the Gilder Lehrman Institute Special Exhibits Gallery in the visitor center. Combination tickets for the film, museum and Cyclorama are $18.75 for adults, $17.75 for seniors and veterans, and $13.75 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under and active military have free admission.

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