1864 Civil War Black regimental flag sells for $196,800 at Morphy’s

Civil War

1864 battle flag carried by the ‘127th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops,’ hand-painted by African-American artist and Union troop David Bustill Bowser. Only surviving flag of those Bowser created for the 11 Pennsylvania Black regiments. Sold by Morphy Auctions for $196,800 on June 13, 2019. Morphy Auctions image

DENVER, Pa. – An 1864 hand-painted flag that was carried into battle by the 127th Regiment, one of 11 African-American regiments from Pennsylvania that fought for the Union during the Civil War, has sold at auction today for $196,800 (inclusive of 23% buyer’s premium).

Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, confirmed that the flag was purchased by the Atlanta History Center, whose military historian and curator, Gordon Jones, placed the winning bid by phone. Several high-profile institutions were among the contenders.

Believed to be the only survivor from the original 11 flags hand-painted by David Bustill Bowser, son of a fugitive slave, its distinctive artwork features the image of a Black troop bidding farewell to Columbia, the Goddess of Liberty. Above the artwork a motto reads: “WE WILL PROVE OURSELVES MEN.”

“It was such an honor to have been chosen to bring this precious Civil War artifact to the auction marketplace,” Morphy said. “Its historical importance cannot be overstated.”

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