Army of the Ohio working to restore historic battle flags

Members of the Army of the Ohio Reenactors and the Monroe County Historical Society pose with the regimental flag of the 23d Ohio Volunteer Infantry, July 21, 2012 at the Ohio Historical Society storage facility in Columbus, Ohio. Members of the Army of the Ohio raised over $14,000 in order for the flag to be conserved and had the opportunity to view the flag before it was sent to West Virginia for the year long conservation process. Photo by Joshua Mann.
The Army of the Ohio has announced they have raised the necessary funds to allow for the conservation of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) battle flag from the American Civil War. In addition, the group has announced it will continue its preservation efforts by adopting the 25th OVI battle flag.

The group adopted the 23d OVI flag in January 2011 and has since raised $14,755 of the estimated $29,000 needed for the conservation of the nearly 150 year old silk regimental flag. The remaining funding came from a grant from the Army Historical Foundation, an anonymous donation to the Ohio Historical Society and from the general flag fund of the society, who operates the Save the Flags Campaign.

“One of the goals of the Army of the Ohio is to honor the memory of Ohio’s Civil War Soldiers,” says Col. Bob Minton, commander of the Army of the Ohio and Fostoria, Ohio resident. “The simple way to accomplish this is through accurate portrayals of them at reenactments, but to be able to preserve this distinctive symbol of the war is essential to telling the Soldiers story to future generations.”

The 23rd Ohio was organized at Camp Chase, Ohio on June 11, 1861 and served in the eastern theater, fighting at South Mountain, Antietam and Winchester. The members of this regiment gained distinction in military and civilian life. The first commander, William Rosecrans, became a noted general. The 23rd Ohio is also the only unit in the history of the Army to contain two future presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes and William S. McKinley.

The 25th Ohio was also organized at Camp Chase, Ohio on June 28, 1861 and served in the eastern theater. At the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 the regiment sustained a loss of 179 of the 220 officers and men it went into battle with. The 25th remained in service until April 1866 and had 18 color bears killed or wounded, including eight at Gettysburg.

Minton said the groups fund-raising efforts took them to numerous events across Ohio and New York selling T-shirts, mugs and selling raffle tickets for Civil War artwork. Additionally, members conducted preservation marches and sought donations from individuals and groups. The group will continue to sell these items to raise the estimated $29,000 required for the 25th OVI flag.

The 23rd Ohio flag will be taken to a conservator later this summer where it will be stabilized in order for the flag to be displayed. The Ohio Historical Society’s flag collection is one of the largest in the country. It includes the Ohio Adjutant General’s collection of 553 flags, three quarters of which are from the Civil War. Since the inception of the Save the Flags campaign, 21 of the flags in the collection have been treated and housed in frames for display purposes.

The Army of the Ohio was organized in 1999 to combine the strength of American Civil War reenacting units from Ohio and surrounding states. Currently infantry, artillery and cavalry units from Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania comprise the group.

For more information contact Bob Minton at or (419) 420-2673 or Joshua Mann at or (419) 308-7660. Visit or on facebook at Army of the Ohio Civil War Reenactors.