CIVIL WAR REGIMENTAL FLAGS RETURNED

On Saturday March 24, two Confederate battle flags which have been missing since 1864 were donated to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. "The fact that these flags survived and were finally located and identified is a miracle," said Robert Bradley, Chief Curator of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Bradley detailed the history of the flags of the 10th and 44th Alabama Infantry Regiments to mark the return of the flags to Alabama.

L-R: Curator Bob Bradley, Thomas Blackford, and Archives Director Ed Bridges.

Both flags were manufactured in the summer of 1862 at the Clothing Depot in Richmond, Virginia and are referred to as "second wool bunting issues." The flag of the 10th Alabama Infantry was captured at the Battle of New Market Crossroads (Frayser's Farm, Willis' Church, etc.) on June 30, 1862. Following its capture, the flag was forwarded to the U. S. War Department where it was catalogued and marked with capture number 72. The flag of the 44th Alabama Infantry was captured at the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) on September 17, 1862. It, too, was sent to the War Department where it was catalogued as capture number 5.

On December 30, 1863 both flags were lent to Francis Barlow of the 61stNew York Volunteer Infantry, by order of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. From February 22 to March 5, 1864, the flags were displayed at the United States Sanitary Commission Fair in Albany, New York. Following the fair, the flags were not returned to the War Department and somehow ended up in private hands. Apparently, both flags were eventually acquired by Captain Joseph Bowen Brinton, who served in an Indiana regiment during the War. The flags were cared for by several generations of Captain Brinton's family and were located and identified in October, 1999.

The family of Thomas Blackford at the Alabama Archives with the flags they returned to Alabama.

The flag of the 10th Alabama Infantry remained in the possession of Captain Brinton's granddaughter, Mrs. Edith Litchfield Denny of Litchfield, Arizona. She had given the flag of the 44th Alabama Infantry to her grandson, Thomas Blackford of Edgecomb, Maine. When the family discovered that the flags were from Alabama regiments, they immediately began efforts to have them returned. Though terminally ill, Mrs. Denny, who passed away on January 23, 2001 at age 90, was determined that the flag of the 10th Alabama was to be donated to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. On March 24, her grandson, Tom Blackford, brought both flags home to Alabama. When asked about his reasons for making the donation, Mr. Blackford said, "I never felt the flag was really mine, I just felt I was holding it in trust until I could find out where it belonged." The flags were accepted by James Simpson, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, in the presence of a large and appreciative group. During his three-day tour of Montgomery, Mr. Blackford was presented with a certificate of appreciation by Secretary of State Jim Bennett.

The flags are currently in storage and will eventually receive conservation treatment to insure their continued preservation.

For more information about these and other Alabama Regimental Flags, please contact curator Robert Bradley at 334-242-4363, ext. 269 or bbradley@archives.alabama.gov.

Updated: October 26, 2006
Alabama Department of Archives & History
624 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-0100
Phone: (334) 242-4435
E-Mail:debbie.pendleton@archives.alabama.gov