Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Three flags

For many years, the people of North Carolina have been responsible for raising the funds to see to it that Confederate flags, entrusted to the state so many decades ago, are being preserved for future generations. Over the past decade, I've had the chance to stand beside many of these flags and to speak about their regiments. It is a huge honor.

To my knowledge, there are two flag preservation projects underway right now within the state.

For the past few months, the North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans has been raising funds to preserve the battle flag of the 54th North Carolina Troops. It is possible that the flag was captured on November 7, 1863. The curators at the North Carolina Museum of History believe that the damaged section was caused by Federal soldiers snipping pieces as war trophies. The pictured flag was first sent to the War Department, then to Maine, and finally, through the work of Fredericks Olds, was returned to North Carolina in 1927. For more information, please visit the NC SCV website.

The second flag, recently announced by the 26th North Carolina Troops, Reactivated, is the headquarters flag of the Brig. Gen. Lawrence O. Branch. No greater group of men and women has done more to make sure items in the North Carolina Museum's collection are preserved than the fine folks in the 26th NCT. This flag was the headquarters flag of General Branch, a pre-war congressional leader who also led the defense of New Bern in March 1862. The battle was a Confederate loss. Branch went on to command a brigade in the Light Division, Army of Northern Virginia. He was killed at the end of the battle of Shaprsburg. The flag started home with his body, but was left in Winchester and discovered years later. In 1920, it was placed in the North Carolina Hall of History/North Carolina Museum of History. If you are interested in helping to see that it is conserved, please visit this link.

The third flag is a company-level flag belonging to the 6th North Carolina State Troops. Early in the war, companies were often presented flags before they left their communities and headed to a camp of instruction. This flag was presented to the North Carolina Grays, in Morrisville, on June 1, 1862. The North Carolina Grays later became Company I, of the 6th NCST, and consisted of men from Wake and Chatham Counties. According to information at the North Carolina Museum of History, this flag was captured by Federal soldiers from Ohio in a baggage wagon, in the fall of 1863. It was returned to North Carolina after the close of the war. Friends in the Cedar Fork Rifles Preservation Society are raising funds to preserve this flag. The flag of the North Carolina Grays is made of silk, and silk flags take considerably more funds to conserve than wool bunting banners. You can find more information about this project by visiting the Cedar Fork Rifles Preservation Society here

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