An irreplacable collection of battle flags carried by Iowa soldiers during the Civil War will be inspected next week at the state capitol rotunda. The 138 flags were placed in glass cases during a special holiday declared in 1894 and have remained there, virtually untouched, ever since.Jerome Thompson is museum bureau chief for the State Historical Society of Iowa. He says the flags are shabby because they were damaged during Civil War battles, but they’re also waging a battle with time and the elements. Thompson says it’s important to determine what parts of the flags should be restored and what parts should be left alone to preserve the history of the aged artifacts.Only three of the flags were treated for a preservation project in 1976, a project which was abandoned due to expense. Thompson says other states have tried to preserve their Civil War-era and other historic flags and found the process very costly.Thompson says one of the nation’s leading flag preservation experts will be in Des Moines to inspect the flags next Tuesday. Fonda Thomsen has also done work on the actual “Star Spangled Banner” which flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.
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