Monday, November 09, 2015

Five Missing Flags

I have written in the past about a set of missing flags from the Branch-Lane brigade. I understand missing a flag or two from a regiment, but five whole flags from a brigade issue?

It would appear that right before the Seven Days campaign began, in late June 1862, Branch's brigade was issued new battle flags. Nicholas Gibbon chronicles in his diary that the brigade received new flags on June 26, 1862. At the battle of Gaines Mill, the flag of the Seventh North Carolina passed through the hands of five color bearers, including Col. Reuben Campbell, who died with it in his hands.

In fact, I have probably a half dozen mentions of various regiments in the brigade and their flags prior to the famous issue that is so associated with the Branch-Lane brigade. And I found another one last night. According to an article in the Weekly State Journal, dated October 1, 1862, Branch's "body, as he himself would have wished it, was borne to its last resting place under the tattered and ball-riddled flags of two of his veteran regiments." I would assume that the brigade sent two flags to accompany the remains of Branch. I would assume that one of them belonged to the Thirty-third, seeing that Branch was the former colonel of that regiment. But, what flags were they?

It is unlikely that it was the 33rd NCT's state flag. It was captured, most likely, during the battle of New Bern in March 1862, and then donated to the Hall of History (now the North Carolina Museum of History) in 1917. It is unlikely that Branch's headquarters flag was one of the flags used. His flag was found in Winchester, Virginia, many years after the war, and donated to the Museum in 1920. It is possible that a First National belonging to the 33rd NCT might have accompanied the General's body. This flag wound up in Hyde County after the war. (All of these flags are in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of History.)

Devereaux D. Cannon, Jr., writes that the Richmond Clothing Depot was established in late 1861 and by May 1862, was making wool bunting flags from material captured at the former Federal navy yard near Norfolk, Virginia.  These flags, according to Howard Madaus, featured 13 stars and "substituted orange wool for the borders." The flags were 48 inches square. (see more here) "The first examples of these new battle flags were issued in May to troops of Gen. James Longstreet's Right Wing." A. P. Hill's division was a part of that right wing until Hill and Longstreet had a falling out and Hill was transferred to Jackson's command.

So my next question is this: are there surviving examples of first bunting issue flags for other regiments in Hill's Division? I've not found any.

The search continues.... 

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