Alabama Archives Return Historic Flag to Arkansas

One hundred and thirty-seven years after being captured in battle, the flag of the 3rd Confederate Infantry has finally gone home. The flag was issued in the spring of 1864 and bears characteristics similar to the Hardee pattern flags issued to the division of Major General Patrick Cleburne, Army of Tennessee. It was captured on September 10, 1864, by the 113th Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia. In his report dated September 10, 1864, Captain Toland Smith noted that, "we captured the flag of the Third Confederate Infantry inscribed with the names of seven different battles." The flag was eventually forwarded to the U.S. War Department and assigned Capture Number 227. On April 26, 1905, the flag, along with four others, which had been "identified as belonging to Alabama organizations" by Secretary of War William Howard Taft, was forwarded to the Governor of Alabama. The flag had been mistakenly identified as the colors of the "3rd Confederate Cavalry formerly the 11th Battalion, Alabama Cavalry." The 3rd Confederate Infantry, formed in 1862, actually consisted of eight companies from Arkansas and two from Mississippi.

During the preparation of his report on the Archives' Civil War flag collection, Curator Bob Bradley discovered the error and in consultation with other scholars verified the true history of the flag. In September 2000, Bradley began efforts to have the flag returned to Arkansas. On November 30, 2000, Bill Gatewood, Director of the Old State House Museum, formally requested the return of the flag. The Board of Trustees approved the request on March 2, 2001. The flag was picked up by Curator Joellen Maack on October 25, 2001, and taken back to Arkansas where it will receive conservation work and eventually will be displayed with other Arkansas flags in the Old State House Museum.

Bill Gatewood, Director of the Old Statehouse Museum, and ADAH Curator Bob Bradley examine the flag of the 3rd Confederate Infantry.

Bradley's thorough documentary research on the Archives' extensive flag collection has proven to be of great importance. Every flag has a story -- some of them dramatic and poignant. Bradley has identified flags that were carried in critical battles as well as those that simply help tell the stories of the people who carried them. His research has also led to a number of new acquisitions as well as to this flag being returned to its Arkansas home.

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