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The final piece
Flag completes Lincoln exhibit

One newspaper article from 1865 reported Abraham Lincoln grasped this flag upon being shot by John Wilkes Booth at Fordís Theatre on the night of April 14.

Other witnesses claimed Lincoln pushed it away to get a better view of ďOur American Cousin,Ē the play he and wife Mary were watching.

Whatever role the Treasury Guard Regimentís national flag played, itís considered one of the last things Lincoln touched.

The flag is on view at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museumís temporary exhibit, ďBlood on the Moon,Ē a 3,000-square-foot examination of Lincolnís assassination.

On loan from the Connecticut Historical Society, the flag was installed at the exhibit Tuesday morning - the final artifact to takes its place in the show. The exhibit, which runs until Oct. 16, showcases roughly 60 items relating to the assassination, including Lincolnís deathbed and the horse carriage the Lincolns rode to Fordís Theatre that night. The flag was one of five decorating their theater box.

During the Civil War, major government departments had their own regiments. The treasury departmentís guard enlisted approximately 1,000 men who were charged with defending Washington, D.C., which was threatened at various times during the war by Confederate advances. The Treasury Guard never saw battle and was disbanded in October 1865 by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

A little larger than 6-by-6 feet, the silk flag was one of two from the guard that decorated the Lincolns' box. The other, the guard's official regimental flag, is at Ford's Theatre. That flag is probably the one that tripped up Booth, whose spur allegedly snagged on something as he leapt out of the balcony and onto the stage after shooting Lincoln in back of the head.

The Connecticut Historical Society received the guard's national flag in 1922, when it was donated by Robert Yergason. He inherited the flag from his father, Edgar Yergason, a Civil War veteran, Lincoln supporter and interior designer who redecorated the White House during the Harrison administration. In 1907, the elder Yergason received the flag as a gift from Henry Cobaugh, then the head of security for the treasury department.

Over the years, the flag "badly deteriorated," according to a report by the Connecticut Historical Society. Extensive conservation a few years ago pieced together what remained of its brittle fabric.

The flag was presented to the treasury department's regiment in 1864 by the "ladies of the treasury department." There's a different image on each side's canton. On one side, an eagle is surrounded by 35 gold-painted stars. On the other side, which will not be in view, a seated female figure represents liberty.

Pete Sherman can be contacted at 788-1539 or pete.sherman@sj-r.com.



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