Flag: 13th Alabama Infantry
This flag is an Army of Northern Virginia, 3rd wool bunting issue. Flags of this issue were manufactured at the Richmond Depot between July 1862 and May 1864. It was issued to the regiment after the loss of their 2nd wool bunting issue flag at Antietam (Sharpsburg) September 17, 1862. The flag was carried by the regiment at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where it was nearly captured on the first day (July 1, 1863) during the retreat from McPherson's Ridge. At that time, according to his account, flag bearer Private W. A. Castleberry placed the flag on the ground to prevent its capture. He then picked it up, tore it from the staff and placed it in his "bosom". On July 3rd, Colonel Birkett Davenport Fry noticed the flag bearer had attached "a formidable looking lance head to his staff."1 The condition of this flag indicates that at the time Castleberry tore it from the staff, the leading edge was ripped, tearing away the two top eyelets, leaving only one by which the flag could be attached to a staff. So, what Colonel Fry apparently saw, was the flag of the 13th Alabama Infantry attached to a lance which had been used to replace the missing staff.
The flag was captured on July 3, 1863 during the assault on Cemetery Ridge (Pickett's Charge) by the men of Co. C, 1st Delaware Infantry2. According to the report of Colonel S. G. Shepard, 7th Tennessee Infantry, three flag bearers were shot down while carrying the flag, "the last of whom was shot down at the works."3 Following the assault, Colonel Fry who had been captured, encountered "a federal soldier with an ugly wound in his shoulder," which he had "received from the spear on the end" of one of Fry's regimental colors.
The flag was eventually forwarded to the U.S. War Department where it was assigned Capture Number 60. It was returned to the State of Alabama effective March 25, 1905.
This flag received conservation treatment and was prepared for display by
Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. of Sharpsburg, Maryland in December 1991
(see conservation report).
1Fry was Colonel of the 13th Alabama Infantry and was in command of Archer's Brigade during Pickett's charge.
2In his report, Lieutenant John T. Dent (1st Delaware Infantry) noted the capture of five flags by the men in his regiment. Private Bernard McCarren of company C received the Congressional Medal of Honor for the capture of an unidentified flag. Based upon the available documentation, it is believed that McCarren's medal was awarded for the capture of the 13th Alabama's flag.
3Four of the five flags carried by the regiments in Archer's Brigade were captured. The flags of the 1st and 14th Tennessee Infantry were captured by the 14th Connecticut Volunteers. The captor of the 5th Alabama Battalion's flag is believed to have been Lt. William Smith, Co. A, 1st Delaware Infantry (see 86.1867.1).
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Updated: October 25, 2006