Fearing Flag unfurled at Marietta museum

MARIETTA – A flag that belonged to the corps of men commanded by Civil War Brigadier-General Benjamin Dana Fearing was recently restored and will be on display at the Campus Martius Museum in Marietta.

Fearing was born in Harmar on Oct. 10, 1837, and was a 1856 graduate of Marietta College. He joined as a volunteer in the Army in 1861 and rose quickly through the ranks. He was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers in 1864, according to Bill Reynolds, historian at the Campus Martius Museum.

The Fearing Flag was the symbol that his corps of men fought under during the Civil War and generally a corps represented a significant number of men, said Reynolds.

After the war was over, Fearing brought the corps flag back home with him for safe keeping.

“We actually have a photograph of the flag being flown outside his home,” said Reynolds. “We aren’t certain what the occasion was for flying it, but clearly he took great pride in the flag.”

Corps flags are apparently quite rare with only a few of them surviving the test of time.

“Corps flags are special because there are so few of them left,” said Reynolds. “There are probably less than two dozen of these still in existence.”

Upon his death in 1881, Fearing’s siblings Sarah Norton and Henry Dana Fearing began the process of transferring his belongings to Marietta College, according to Douglas Anderson, Marietta College library director.

“In the time between his death in 1881 and 1910, Marietta College acquired pieces of the his extensive collection,” he said. “I’m not certain what point in that time frame that the college received the flag.”

The college sent the flag to someone who was accustomed to restoring historical pieces in August.

“Bill (Reynolds) came to me and said they were doing a Civil War exhibit and that the flag was going to be a key part of it,” he said. “Linda Showalter, the Special Collections assistant, and myself decided that we needed to pursue a special conservation process.”

He added that restoration of the flag, which was paid for with the proceeds from one of the library’s endowment funds, was completed in February.

Along with the restoration, the money from the fund was used to provide the flag with an encased protective frame.

“The total cost for both the restoration of the flag and the frame it was placed in was $5,400,” said Anderson.

The flag was returned to Marietta and went on display recently at the museum.

Reynolds said he is extremely pleased with Marietta College for helping to restore such a valuable piece of Civil War history.

“Now that it’s been restored, it will be preserved for a long time to come,” he said. “It’s a very significant piece of history and people will be able to enjoy it longer because of the generosity of Marietta College.”

The flag is being displayed in the museum’s “Touched By Conflict: Southeastern Ohio and the Civil War,” according to Le Ann Hendershot, director of the Campus Martius Museum.

“That’s our Civil War exhibit and it started in July of last year,” she said. “Those who attend the museum will be able to see the flag on display in that exhibit until July of 2015.”

For anyone hoping to see the flag after that time, it will be still be displayed in the museum as part of the collection.

“We will still be able to show the flag even when our Civil War exhibit is taken down,” said Hendershot.