As the nation celebrates the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Museum Textile Services is proud to have had a part in conserving a bit of history very important to Massachusetts’s involvement in the fight. Over the summer, the National Colors of the 55th Massachusetts, one of two all-black regiments in the state, went on display at the Concord Museum. MTS completed the conservation of the flag, which belongs to the Middlesex School in Fall of 2010. A state-of-the-art climate-controlled case was built by Will Twombly of Spokeshave Design in Watertown, Massachusetts, using a Small Corp, Inc. inner core.
Colonel Hallowell and his brothers all served the Union Army; he, William and Edward all served as soldiers while another brother, Richard, worked at the Stearns house in Medford as an assistant to slaves on the Underground Railroad. The Hallowells, a Quaker family, struggled with their pacifistic religious ideology and the injustice they believed was being done by slavery. After thoughtful consideration by the Hallowells and the rest of the Meeting, the decision was made to fight, giving birth to the term “Fighting Quakers.”
After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued New Year’s Day 1863, recruiting began for the creation of the first all-black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts. Hallowell was commissioned the Lieutenant Colonel of the 54th by Governor John A. Andrew. Lt. Colonel Hallowell aided in the training of these men, and then led them to the ships that would take them South and into battle. Governor Andrew then ordered Hallowell to return and form the 55th Massachusetts. He took over as Colonel, and his brother Edward replaced him as Lt. Colonel of the 54th.