Flag: 1st Alabama Cavalry
Catalogue No. 86.3949.1
(PN16371-16373)

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Provenance Reconstruction:

The date that this flag was presented to the regiment is unknown. However, this may be the flag mentioned in the diary of Hugh F. Pickett, Co. I, 1st Alabama Cavalry. In the entry for February 13, 1862, Pickett noted that there was a "flag presentation to the 1st Ala. Cav. Vol at Capitol, Montgomery Ala. Battle flag made by ladies, presented with address by Gov. John Gill Shorter. Received by Col. J. H. Clanton." The flag was captured on May 22, 1863, near Middleton, Tennessee, by Sergeant Major George W. Clark, Private Lewis H. Wilcox and Private Charles F. Parker, Co. B, 4th Michigan Cavalry. The flag was found in a wagon in which three Confederates were attempting to escape after the camp of the 1st Alabama Cavalry was overrun. The flag was eventually taken to Michigan.

In 1909, Director Thomas Owen, Alabama Department of Archives and History wrote the Adjutant General and the Governor of the State of Michigan requesting the return of Alabama flags1 captured during the war. While both men expressed their willingness to comply, the matter was referred to the legislature and Representative L. C. Cramton. No further correspondence concerning the Alabama flags in Michigan in the period between 1909 and 1914 has been located. On January 15, 1914 Dr. Owen once again inquired about the Alabama flags in Lansing. In the reply, John B. Mathews, Clerk, Board of State Auditors reported that the flag of the 1st Alabama Cavalry is "the only flag from Alabama that we have in our possession." For the next few months, Dr. Owen again corresponded with various Michigan authorities in an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim the flags. Between 1917 and 1920, Mr. Richard W. McWilliams of Camden, Alabama corresponded with officials in Michigan concerning the flag of the Wilcox True Blues (Co. I-K, 1st Alabama Infantry). As a result of his efforts, the flag was returned to him by permission of the Board of Governors and the Michigan Grand Army of the Republic.2 Yet, the flag of the 1st Alabama Cavalry remained in Michigan.

In the Confederate Veteran, Vol. 38 January-December, 1930, p. 372, the flag of the 1st Alabama Cavalry appears on a list of 11 Confederate flags displayed at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. The flag was finally returned to the State of Alabama by the State of Michigan on May 13, 1941 (Senate Concurrent Resolution No.47). It was received during a special ceremony in Lansing, Michigan on September 20, 1941 by Peter Brannon (Archives and History) representing Governor Dixon of Alabama. The flag was officially accepted by the Department on September 26, 1941.

This flag received conservation treatment and was prepared for display by Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. of Sharpsburg, Maryland in November 1994 (see conservation report).

Sources:
       Brewer, Willis. Alabama: Her Resources, War Records and Public Men; From 1540-1872. Montgomery, 1872.
       Curator's Object Files, Civil War Flags, Alabama Department of Archives and History.
       U.S. War Department. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.


1Both the flags of the 1st Alabama Cavalry and the Wilcox True Blues (Co. 1-K, 1st Alabama Infantry) were known to be in Michigan.

2The letter granting permission is dated September 16, 1920. McWilliams' daughter presented the flag to the Department on May 7, 1921.

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Updated: October 25, 2006