This is a fragment of the American flag that flew over Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor at the beginning of the Civil War. After four days of extensive artillery bombardment by newly formed Confederate armed forces, Union Commander Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort and lowered the battle-torn flag with a solemn ceremony that included a 50-gun salute. Anderson then sailed for New York with the precious flag and upon arrival, throngs of patriotic citizens greeted him and rushed him off to a rally in Union Square with more than 100,000 people. Anderson toured the North with the tattered flag in tow, evoking patriotic fervor at every stop. He had become a national hero and the flag had become a powerful symbol of loyalty and patriotism in the North.
The Union army rewarded Anderson for his efforts with a promotion to brigadier-general and command of the Army of the Ohio. He asked a relatively unknown officer, Captain William Jackson Palmer, to command a troop of men that would act as his personal escort. Palmer hand-picked 110 Pennsylvanian men of high character for the troop, many of whom shared his Quaker faith. Under Palmer’s leadership the troop performed admirably in the field and began to be used less as a personal escort and more as an elite scouting unit. As a result of the troop’s success, Palmer was ordered to expand the size of the troop to a battalion (400) and then a regiment (1200). Within two weeks the recruitment was complete and Anderson’s Troop had evolved into the 15th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry with Palmer at the helm. This regiment is also known as Anderson’s Troop or the Anderson Cavalry.
Palmer’s recruitment of an elite cavalry regiment caught the eye of a merchant in Philadelphia who had awaited the right opportunity to join the war effort. That merchant was Henry McAllister Jr. McAllister’s mature and steadfast service throughout the war gained the attention of Palmer who asked him to be on his staff as Acting Assistant Adjutant General. After the war, McAllister and Palmer were reunited when Palmer was looking for reliable men for a business venture which would be, as Palmer declared it, a town of “schools, colleges and science…The most attractive place for homes in the West.” He hired McAllister as both the Philadelphia based land agent for the newly formed Denver and Rio Grande Railway and an officer in the Union Contract Company that would build it. Once the initial funding for the Railway was in place, McAllister joined his old Anderson Troop commander out west to assist in efforts to develop the town now known as Colorado Springs.
Generously Submitted by the McAllister House Museum