In Memory of the Men Who Wore the Grey by Anabel F. Thompson
Flag of the sunny Southland,
Within your bonny folds
Are all the love, the hope, the dreams
That the human heart e'er holds.
The love of sweetheart, wife, and home,
Of honor, truth, and right;
Love of our sovereign right to live
As God gave us the might.
Hope of the finest bravest men
That e'er unsheathed a sword;
Knightly, true as steel were they-
Men who sacred kept their word.
Dreams of our homeland unfulfilled,
Bathed in the tears we shed-
Flag of sacrifice - symbol and shield
Of our immortal dead.
The first flag flown by Confederate troops in a major battle was the flag known as the Stars and Bars, flown over the battlefield at 1st Manassas. This flag served as both battle flag and national flag of the Confederate States. Beginning with seven stars for the first seven Confederate states, it eventually carried thirteen stars. It quickly became apparent that this flag was unsuitable for the battlefield, as it could not easily be distinguished from the American flag when viewed at a distance.
On May 1, 1863, the Second National Flag was issued. It carried the Battle Flag as the canton on a field of white. Also known as the "Stainless Banner," its first official use was to cover the casket of Gen. Thomas J."Stonewall" Jackson, at his funeral. Despite complaints that it resembled a flag of surrender, especially when hanging limp on a calm day, this flag was flown by most units of the Army of Northern Virginia until the end of the war.
On March 4, 1865, just a month before the fall of the Confederacy, the Third National Flag was issued. Similar to the Second National flag, it carried a red bar on the fly end of the white field. Few of these were made, and they were flown primarily over the city of Richmond, which was under seige at the time. It was at Richmond that the complaint concerning the "Stainless Banner" resembling a flag of surrender was made.
In November, 1861, the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Southern Cross, was first issued to the troops. It was made of silk purchased by Colin Selph, who went around Richmond buying up the silk stocks of the city to make flags for the Confederate Army. 120 of these flags were issued in November and December of 1861. The silk flags proved to be unsuitable, due to the colors fading and poor durability. In 1862 a new Battle Flag was issued. Made of high quality English wool bunting, it is known as the First Bunting Issue. A few brigades, however, received a Cotton Issue. Hood's Brigade was among those that received the Cotton Issue.
The first flag flown by the 18th Georgia Infantry was, more than likely, the First National flag, the Stars and Bars. The regiment received the Cotton Issue at Baltimore Crossroads, immediately following the engagement at Eltham's Landing in May, 1862. The regiment carried this flag throughout 1862, a rip on the top edge of the flag being repaired with a lock of hair of a soldier of the 5th New York Zouaves killed at 2nd Manassas trying to seize the colors. This flag is currently in a private collection.
After the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1 - 4, 1863, and before the invasion of the north in July, the Army of Northern Virginia issued new flags to its troops. This Third Bunting was probably the third flag issued to the 18th Georgia, replacing the Cotton Issue. This flag was captured at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864, by Pvt. Ulrick Crocker of the 6th Michigan Cavalry, for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In 1905, during Theodore Roosevelt's administration, the captured Confederate flags that could be identified were returned to their states of origin. This flag is now on display at the Georgia Capitol Museum in Atlanta. The regiment was issued a fourth flag to replace the one lost at Cedar Creek, and more than likely it was a Fifth Bunting issue, which was issued in November 1864. Read the story below to find out what happened to the last flag carried by the 18th Georgia Infantry.
HE SAVED HIS REGIMENT'S FLAG
William Gundy Rogers served in the Infantry, 18th Regiment Georgia Volunteers, attached to General James Longstreet's Invincible Corps, from June 1861 until his capture at Sayler's Creek, Virginia, on April 6, 1865.
William G. Rogers was born in Houston County, Georgia, on April 5, 1842. When a boy he moved the short distance to Dooly County with his parents. Soon after Rogers' nineteenth birthday he joined Captain Joseph Armstrong with other young men from Dooly County. Their outfit became part of the famous 18th Georgia Regiment.
The Company Muster Roll shows W. G. Rogers as a private in Company I, 18th Regiment, Georgia Infantry, having enlisted June 22, 1861, at Camp McDonald under Colonel L. E. Blakely for a three-year period.
Excerpts from a photocopy of a letter of recommendation for Pvt. Rogers' promotion to Ensign addressed to Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General on April 25, 1864, read:
Private Rogers volunteered in June 1861 and has borne himself most gallantly and creditably in every engagement in which the Regiment has been engaged since this period of enlistment...Private Rogers has borne the colors of the Reg't. since December, 1863 and his commission should take effect from the date of the approval of the Act (February 17, 1864) creating the office of Ensign in the C. A.
The 18th Georgia Regiment was with Ewell's Corps which was forced to surrender on April 6, 1865, when surrounded by overwhelming Federal forces at Sayler's Creek, Virginia. When Ensign Rogers realized his capture was certain, he quickly tore the flag from the staff and concealed it under his clothing, carrying it this way to Old Capitol Prison at Washington, D. C. Here he secretly burned the flag which he had carried into battle for sixteen months. Although he was imprisoned, the 18th Georgia Regiment flag had not been captured.
Ensign Rogers was transferred to Federal Depot Prisoners of War near Sandusky, Ohio, and on June 19th was released on oath of allegiance to return to his far away Georgia home.
Years later, William G. Rogers became the beloved postmaster at Abbeville, Georgia, where he died on June 20, 1896, and was buried in Stubbs cemetery. He was survived by a devoted wife, six children and a host of friends.
The late Rev. J. J. Hyman, a Confederate veteran and historian of the Dooly County Confederate Veterans, told the incident of the flag in a eulogy to Mr. Rogers shortly after his untimely death. This short sketch of his Confederate service for four long, arduous years is a tribute to Ensign Rogers who saved his Regiment's colors from capture even though he was taken prisoner.
This narrative was included in Confederate Reminiscences and Letters 1861 - 1865, VOL. VI, published by the Georgia Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy. It was submitted by Martha McLeod Chapter No. 559, UDC, Abbeville, Georgia.
One of the greatest deeds a soldier could perform during the course of a battle was to capture the colors (battle flag) of his enemy. The 18th Georgia Infantry captured two stands of colors at the battle of 2nd Manassas. The first stand of colors captured by the regiment was on the 29th of August, 1862, and belonged to the 24th New York Regiment. Pvt. T. H. Northcutt of Company A has been credited with capturing the colors, but in his memoirs, Sgt. J. J. O'Neill of Company A states that it was he who captured the colors, and that Private Northcutt was not present at the battle, as he was "suffering from a wound of a previous engagement."
The second stand of colors was taken the following day, on August 30, 1862, when Private William Kay captured the colors of the 10th New York Regiment. The 18th also captured a battery of four guns in this battle, and killed a great number of the 5th and 10th New York Zouave Regiments.
The two captured flags were presented to the Governor of Georgia by Col. Wofford and hung among other captured flags at the capitol in Milledgeville until they were "set free" by General Sherman during his march through Georgia. The governor honored the occasion by issuing the following Commendation of Valor to the regiment.
COMMENDATION OF VALOR
PRESENTED BY THE GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
1st. Be it resolved by the general assembly, that the people of the State of Georgia through their representatives, do hereby express their high appreciation of the intrepid valor, cool courage, and heroic daring of the officers and privates of the 18th Regiment of Georgia volunteers; and that they together with their brethren in arms from this state, are entitled to a prominent position in historic page of brilliant achievements in this Resolution, and to live in the hearts and memory of a grateful people.
2d. The State of Georgia hereby accepts with feelings of pride and pleasure, the two stands of colors tendered by W. T. Wofford, Colonel, commanding the 18th Georgia Regiment; and that his excellency the governor, be requested to have attached to each standard a suitable inscription, giving the name of the soldier capturing it, with such incidence of said battle as in his judgement, shall suitably perpetuate the same for future generations; and that the same be deposited among the archives of the State.
3d. That his excellency the governor be, and he is hereby instructed to have too [two] suitable metals prepared, one for Private T. H. Northcutt, of Captain O'Neal's company from Cobb County, and one for Private William Key [Kay] of Captain Rogers'[Roper's] company of Bartow County; upon each of which, appropriate inscriptions shall be made, to be by him presented to these brave soldiers, in the name of the people of Georgia.
Approved on December 16, 1862.
CONFEDERATE FLAGS IN THE GEORGIA STATE CAPITOL
Georgia Office of Secretary of
Cannon, Devereaux D., Jr. FLAGS OF THE CONFEDERACY. St. Luce's Press. Memphis, 1954.
Smith, Gerald J. One of The Most Daring of Men. Southern Heritage Press. Murfreesboro, 1997.
Woodhead, Henry (Editor). Echoes of Glory: Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy Time/Life
Books. Alexandria, 1996.
Photo of the Third Bunting Issue was used courtesy of: