Flag: 6th Alabama Infantry (Co. E, Hayneville Guards)
This flag was returned to the State of Alabama by the U. S. War Department effective March 25, 1905. In the War Department records, the flag which was given capture number 534 is described as “colors of the Clanton Alabama Brig. captured by the 2nd Ind’a Cavalry, 2nd Brigade 1st Division Cavalry Corps M. D. M. near Montgomery, Ala. April 12th, 1865.” In his report dated April 25, 1865, Colonel O. H. LaGrange referred to it as the flag of Clanton’s Brigade and described it as being made of “blue silk with inscriptions.” By the time the flag was returned to Alabama, it had been rolled into a clump and had become stiff and brittle with age. Due to the fragile nature of the flag, it remained in this condition until it received conservation treatment by Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. of Sharpsburg, Maryland in 1997. Once this work was completed and the full design of the flag could be viewed, the attribution to Clanton’s Brigade became questionable.
The obverse of the flag bears the motto, “Our Homes, Our Rights, We Entrust to Your Keeping, Brave Sons of Alabama” and seven stars linked together by a chain. The reverse bears an illustration of the goddess of liberty breaking her manacles and the motto, “Tyrany [sic] is Hateful to the Gods.” The use of seven stars is common on flags made after the formation of the Confederacy, but before the beginning of the War. After the War began and additional states seceded, seven star flags became obsolete. Clanton’s Brigade was not formed until the spring of 1863, so the use of a seven star pre-war flag by them was questionable. Additional research revealed a description of the flag in Rear Admiral George Henry Preble’s book, Origin and History of the American Flag, originally published in 1872. Preble had received the description of the flag from Charles Brandt of the U. S. War Department. In his letter dated November 18, 1871, Brandt described the flag as “an Alabama State Flag, originally of white silk containing on one side the coat of arms and motto of the state, on the other, surmounted by seven stars linked together, a scroll inscribed, ‘Our homes, Our Rights, We entrust to your Keeping, Brave sons of Alabama.’” It is important to note that at no time did Brandt attribute the flag to Clanton’s Brigade, and he referred to it as having been “originally white,” while LaGrange’s 1865 report described Clanton's Brigade flag as blue. This may indicate that LaGrange was referring to a different flag in his report, and that the Clanton’s Brigade attribution was made in error when the flag was sent from the U. S. War Department in 1905. In addition, while the flag had been assigned capture number 534, this number appears nowhere on the flag.
This flag was finally identified in December, 1999 when a newspaper article was located describing the presentation of a flag to the Hayneville Guards. The Weekly Herald, March 14, 1861 published at Benton in Lowndes County, Alabama noted that, “We were in Hayneville on the 28 ult. (February 28) and witnessed the presentation of a beautiful flag to the Hayneville Guards.... The flag was of the finest material, and the painting well executed. On the front is a figure of the Goddess of Liberty with broken manacles, and the motto ‘Tyranny is Hateful to the Gods.’ On the other side seven stars were linked together and the inscription ‘Our Homes, our Rights we Intrust to Your Keeping, Brave Sons of Alabama.’” The flag was presented by Miss Rebecca O. Powell on behalf of the ladies and received by J. J. Willingham. The Hayneville Guards eventually became Co. E, 6th Alabama Infantry. The flag was either left behind when the regiment left for Virginia, or was returned home for safekeeping after they arrived.
The mystery of exactly how the flag fell into Federal hands remains unsolved. However, it may have been taken from a private home in Hayneville when the town was occupied on April 11, 1865. The forces of Major General James H. Wilson remained in Hayneville overnight, before proceeding to Montgomery the next day. On April 12, 1865 Wilson's troopers paraded through Montgomery. In her diary, Sarah G. Follansbee noted that "conquered banners were numerous." As she watched the procession, Sarah noted that, "we saw the conquered Hayneville banner several times--knew it by the word Tryanny being spelled with one n. We had seen it before the conquest."
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Updated: July 27, 2007