Battle Flags of Texans in the Confederacy
By Alan K. Sumrall
Published by Eakin Press (First Edition 1995)
113 pages including text, notes, and index
Price- $27.26 (online search)
This is a book I've meant to get for quite some time, which I did a few months ago. Was it my first experience with this book? No, one of my two original CW mentors, (for those here that know the other one, no it wasn't Tom), and he has a copy he swears by. His go to book for Texas Confederate flag references. Is this book full of groundbreaking insights? No, not by a long shot. The mentor I mentioned has highlighted and wrote notes all over his catching everything from a possible typo, to very bad mistakes. Funny story about him, he wrote two letters to the author to point these out, first one was unanswered, second one got answered, but I don't think it was a nice reply if I remember correctly...
This is all funny to me, as when the same mentor was discussing this book with a mutual friend (who is the officer at reenactments I look up too, and a grand historian buddy for me who's always been a most important resource when I'm stuck on research), ended their conversation with a statement of his feelings towards the author....
Getting back on track, I recently got my own copy and read it cover to cover. The great Howard Madaus wrote an introduction to the book (probably better known for his excellent research in the area of Confederate firearms) and we get into the story of Texas Confederate flags.
The book is excellently illustrated in the area of flags, there being pictures of well researched replicas, and excellent illustrations when I suppose a replica wasn't available. Accompanying each page is a short history of the unit that carried the subject flags and the flag itself. On top of all of those goodies, there are also tables with the date of secession for each Confederate State, order of battles for Texas units at the Battle of Mansfield, a picture of a model the author made of the CSS Virginia (I don't think that was necessary) and a timeline of the war. All those things I feel were unnecessary, but I reckon it can come in handy under the right circumstances.
All that aside, I feel I should say some of the information is a bit dated. For example the author always points out a flag that in the book that has survived and is being ignored and desperately needs funds for restoration, something I think has been remedied to a good extent since the book was published. On top of that, while the author never explicitly states anything like it, the vibe I get is a bit Lost Causey when concerning flags being wrongfully ignored. I personally can't help but wonder if that was the purpose of this book, inspire people to get flags restored and properly conserved, and I wonder if it succeeded.
There are some things off in this book, but to be fair, I'm not aware of any book on Confederate flags that got everything a hundred percent right. I know one highly regarded book got caught in a mistake by a flag researcher buddy of mine, (makes awesome replicas) managed to see the original. That being said, I think it forgivable, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Texas Confederate flags for the simple reason, its literally the only one I know of on the subject. Still some Texas flags left out, but literally the only one I'm aware of and you'll come away knowing more than you did if you knew about as much I did before reading it. (I need to go over to Tyler now because of this book to see the Smith County Historical Society's collection.)
Besides, its a quick enlightening read, so go get yourself a copy if you ain't got one! This is a book that covers all theaters and has got me interested in flags.
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