The museum staff dipped into the state's extensive Civil War collection, which includes about 900 battle flags carried by New York units during the four-year conflict, the nation's largest collection of banners.
It's the first time the state's Civil War collection has been displayed to such an extent, Burns said, adding that the flags had been displayed for decades at the Capitol after being "just thrown into cases," while other artifacts were "bounced around" to state armories and the Watervliet Arsenal.
The artifacts — including photos, artwork, weaponry and uniforms — are used to tell the story of New Yorkers' experience in Civil War battlefield medicine, wartime manufacturing and prisoner of war camps.
The bulk of the museum's Civil War collection dates back to the creation of the Bureau of Military Statistics, which began acquiring items at the height of the war and continued to do so in the years after the Confederates surrendered in 1865. Many of the items came directly from New York veterans.
"Everything we have we know where it came from, what unit it was with, and how it was acquired," Burns said.
If You Go...
NEW YORK STATE MILITARY MUSEUM: 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, N.Y., http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/mil-hist.htm . Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission.