Sunday, December 8, 2013

Flags of Our (Great-Great-Grand) Fathers

Dear Readers,

I must confess that I was at a bit of a loss for the topic of today's post.  So I did what I normally do when I get a case of blogger's block, I turned to my little redhead for advice as to what to write about.  She suggested that I write a bit about flags during the Civil War.  I had to promise her that I would at least mention some of her ancestors in a favorable light in this post, so please look here for a picture of the regimental flags for the Ninth Illinois Infantry.  She had three ancestors who served in this regiment.  (Unlike the rest who avoided service entirely!)

Though Gods and Generals is far from being an Academy Award worthy movie, I must confess that I did really like the opening scene where we saw one battle flag after another.  The song in the background was also good.  The movie went steadily downhill from there.  The flags meant something to the soldiers.  They represented their regiment, brigade, or corps.  Units could be identified by their banners.  When speaking of Cleburne's Division flag, General Sherman is quoted as saying "That flag meant fight!"  (And he should know!)  Who among us would want to hold a position if we saw the green banner of the Irish Brigade moving towards us?  Or Hood's Texas Brigade?

The flags that my great-great-great grandfathers fought under were varied, as is the location and regiments of their service.  Most of them served under Polk's Corps (later Cheatham) in the Army of Tennessee.  As such, they had an easily identifiable Corps flag until the standardization of battle flags in the Army of Tennessee.  After that, only Cleburne's men were allowed to keep their own flag.

I, of course, also had ancestors who served in Cleburne's Division.  Their flag, like the above is distinctive.  Each regiment would, of course, add their unit and list the battles that they participated in if they so desired.

If we turn our attention to the Eastern Theater, I had some relatives in the 6th Louisiana.  Part of Hayes' "Fighting Tigers".  

And lest I be accused of Confederate bias, I would also like to mention my ancestors in the 8th Ohio Infantry.  Now how an Irish immigrant ended up in Ohio is beyond me, but he did nonetheless.  He and his brothers enlisted in the 8th Ohio at the beginning of the war.  They served in most of the battles in the Eastern Theater as part of the famed Gibraltar Brigade.  They assaulted Bloody Lane at Antietam, managed to outflank Pickett's Charge, and saw action in the Overland Campaign.  In fact, they reenlisted during the midst of that one!  So here too is their flag.

I think it would really be cool to one day have a room in my house decorated with all of the flags from the various regiments in which my ancestors served.  But I have two hurdles to overcome.  One is getting replicas of all of those flags.  The other is my little redhead.  But a man can dream, right?  As suggested in the comments, when I am ready to undertake this task, I just might visit the Alabama Flag Depot.  It looks like they do some very nice work!

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.