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Navy rediscovers captured flags hidden for nearly 100 years
61 banners discovered in museum
In this Dec. 7 photo, Charles Swift, managing director and curator of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Md., looks up from a British flag of the HMS Landrail, which was captured in 1814 by American privateers sailing in the English Channel. It is one of 61 flags recently removed from glass cases at the U.S. Naval Academy for preservation. - photo by Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The curator of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum wasn't exactly sure what would be found: records indicated five display boxes long used to exhibit captured British flags from the War of 1812 actually concealed more banners underneath.But not until all 61 banners were painstakingly removed in December for a conservation effort did curator Charles Swift, who is also the museum's managing director, actually see what was hidden. And he was gratified to learn that conservationists had uncovered dozens of other flags — many captured by the Navy in other conflicts of the 19th century.The 46 newly discovered flags — including banners from battles in Asia and from the Spanish-American War — had originally been put on display in 1913. But seven years later, they were covered up by the 15 flags from the War of 1812 — and sealed up for nearly a century.No one alive had seen the flags long hidden from view."More importantly than just seeing them was seeing the colors," said Swift.
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