This exhibition (New York State Capitol Through October 2005) pays tribute to the colorful and courageous Civil War Zouaves by showcasing ten battle flags carried by New York State Zouave regiments. Each flag, conserved as part of the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project, is a tangible reminder of the gallantry often displayed on the battlefield by the approximately two dozen Zouave units from the Empire State.
By May 25, 1861, six weeks after the Confederates bombarded and seized Fort Sumter, South Carolina, to start the Civil War, nearly 40,000 New Yorkers mustered into service, including established militia outfits with Zouave components and two-year volunteer Zouave regiments.
After the Union defeat at Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, a long war seemed inevitable, and several new Zouave regiments from around the state answered the call to arms. By January 1864, two distinguished and proficient volunteer regiments from New York State received Zouave pattern uniforms, thus continuing the proud New York State Zouave legacy until the war’s end.
Zouave regiments from New York State never saw combat again after the Civil War. Their legacy remained alive in the post-war era as New York National Guard units, veteran societies, and fraternal organizations continued to don the Zouave uniform and adopt the Zouave persona.
The ten flags included within “Flags of the Fighting Zouaves” are: