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Captured Flag of 61st Tennessee

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by alan polk, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. alan polk

    alan polk First Sergeant

    Jun 11, 2012
    A friend of mine found this article published in an Ashland, Oregon newspaper dated March 3, 1913.

    I was wondering if anyone here like @east tennessee roots or anyone else knows where this flag might be today?


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  3. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

    Dec 31, 2010
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    One flag captured at Big Black, is reportedly still in Des Monies, in the possession of the Iowa Department of Archives and History. It's not clear who the flag belonged to, but it's believed to be either the 60th or 61st Tennessee. It's a large 1st National Flag, with 13 seven-pointed stars, arranged in a circle on the blue field. One white bar of these "Stars & Bars", has the words, "In God We Trust". Tennessee has repeatedly tried to no avail, to have the flag returned.

    My guess is, Captain Rawlings' descendants still have the 61st's flag.
  4. alan polk

    alan polk First Sergeant

    Jun 11, 2012
    east tennessee roots likes this.
  5. Motor7

    Motor7 Private

    Feb 8, 2018
    By Guy
    E. Logan




    7 War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Part 1, Vol. 24, pages 628

    The total losses of the two brigades Of General Carr's Division in the battle of Port Gibson

    were 263 killed and wounded; the total losses of the Second Brigade were 101 killed and

    wounded; the loss Of the Twenty-third Iowa was 9 killed and 26 wounded,—the heaviest loss

    sustained by any regiment in the brigade. Among the wounded were Captain William R. Henry

    and Lieutenant D. P. Ballard.

    The regiment took part in the various movements of its brigade and division, which led up to

    the battle of Champion's Hill on the 16th of May, 1863. In that hard fought battle, General Carr's

    Fourteenth Division was held in reserve, until very near its close, when it was ordered forward in

    pursuit of the retreating enemy and succeeded in capturing a considerable number of prisoners

    and a large quantity of army stores, but the order was not given in time to enable General Carr to

    cut off the retreat of the rebel army, which fell back to its strongly fortified position on Big Black

    River, closely followed by the Fourteenth Division, which led the advance. The march was

    conducted with great vigor and, at 10 A. M., on May 17th, the pickets of the enemy were driven


    in. The Second Brigade was now under the command of General M. K. Lawler, from whose

    extended official report of the battle which ensued the following brief extracts are taken:

    . . . I was instructed by the Brigadier General commanding the division to move forward slowly

    and cautiously with my command, and develop and press back, if possible, the enemy's left.

    Accordingly I ordered Colonel C. L. Harris, Eleventh Wisconsin, who held the left of our new

    position, to move his regiment forward through the woods in his front, his skirmishers covering

    his advance, and the Twenty-third Iowa, Colonel Kinsman, to follow him at a distance of 100

    yards as a support. At the same time I advanced the Twentyfirst

    Iowa, Colonel Samuel Merrill, into the cleared field skirting Big Black River, with

    instructions to move forward on a line with the Eleventh Wisconsin. The Peoria Battery was left

    in position on the rising ground in the edge of the field, and the Twenty-second Iowa in rear as a

    reserve and support. Meanwhile there had commenced a spirited artillery engagement between

    the battery of Benton's Brigade and the enemy's cannon in position behind their works. The

    skirmishers of the First Brigade were actively engaged, and those of the Eleventh Wisconsin,

    which regiment advanced steadily forward through the timber to the field in front of the enemy's

    works, and distant from them about 400 yards. Here I ordered it to halt, and move down to the

    right through the field skirting the river, and take position In the woods and brush lining this

    stream. This movement Colonel Harris promptly executed, reaching the position designated

    without serious loss, though exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy's sharpshooters. The

    Twenty-third Iowa, Colonel Kinsman, having come up after the Eleventh Wisconsin, was

    ordered to make a similar movement to the right, and to move up under cover of the river bank

    and take position on the right of the Eleventh Wisconsin and as close as possible to the enemy's

    works, and the Twenty-first Iowa, Colonel Merrill, to take position on the bank between these

    two regiments. I also directed the Peoria Battery to take position in the open field in front of the

    left of the enemy and to open an enfilading fire on their center batteries, with which the battery

    of Benton's Brigade was engaged. At the same time the Twenty-second Iowa, Colonel Stone,

    was ordered to move forward on the left of the field to within supporting distance. These orders

    were quickly responded to, and the position thus occupied by the brigade continued to be held

    without material variation, During the greater part of the forenoon heavy but ineffectual

    musketry firing was kept up by the enemy upon my men, briskly responded to by our

    sharpshooters. Late in the forenoon, finding it impossible to press farther forward along the river

    bank toward the enemy, as I had intended, Colonel Kinsman, Twenty-third Iowa, proposed to

    charge at once the enemy's works and drive them out at the point of the bayonet, and asked my

    consent to the same. Foreseeing that a charge by a single regiment, unsustained by the whole

    line, against fortifications as formidable as those in his front could hardly be successful, at the

    same time I gave my consent to his daring proposition, I determined that there should be a

    simultaneous movement on the part of my whole command. Accordingly, the Twenty-first Iowa,

    Colonel Merrill, was ordered to charge with the Twenty-third, the Eleventh Wisconsin following

    close upon them as a support, and the Twenty-second Iowa, Colonel Stone,—which had in the

    meantime crossed the field and taken position on the river bank on the right of the Eleventh

    Wisconsin,—were ordered to move out into the field and act as a reserve force.... Orders were

    further given that the men should reserve their fire until upon the rebel works. Finally the

    regiments that were to lead the charge were formed, with bayonets fixed, in the edge of the

    woods on the river bank. All things being in readiness, the command "Forward" was given by

    Colonel Kinsman, and at once his noble regiment sprang forward to the works. The Twenty-first

    Iowa, led by Colonel Merrill, moved at the same instant, the Eleventh Wisconsin, Colonel

    Harris, closely following. Through a terrible fire of musketry from the enemy in front, and a


    galling fire from his sharpshooters on the right, these brave men dashed bravely on. Kinsman

    fell, dangerously wounded, before half the distance was accomplished. Struggling to his feet, he

    staggered a few paces to the front, cheered forward his men, and fell again, this time to rise no

    more, pierced through by a second ball. Colonel Merrill, the brave commander of the Twentyfirst

    Iowa, fell, wounded early in the charge. . . . Immediately Lieutenant Colonel Glasgow

    placed himself at the head of the Twenty-third Iowa, and Major Van Anda led on the Twentyfirst.

    Undismayed by the loss of their Colonels, and by the perfect store of bullets poured into

    them with destructive effect, the men of the Twenty-third and Twenty-first Iowa and Eleventh

    Wisconsin pressed onward, nearer and nearer to the rebel works, over the open field and up to

    the edge of the bayou. Halting here only long enough to pour into the enemy a deadly volley,

    they dashed forward through the bayou, filled with water, fallen timber and brush, on to the rebel

    works, with the shout of victors, driving the enemy from their breastworks and entering in

    triumph the rebel stronghold.... Those of the rebels who were not captured hastened to make

    good their retreat over the bridge. . . . It is, perhaps, worthy of remark that more men were

    captured by my brigade than I had men in the charge.... Lieutenant Colonel S. L. Glasgow, of the

    Twenty-third Iowa, and Major S. G. Van Anda, of the Twenty-first Iowa, who assumed

    command of their respective regiments after the fall of their Colonels, deserve the highest

    praise.... They had the honor of leading their regiments into the enemy's works.... Captain

    Houston, Company A, Captain Brown, company I, and Lieutenant Rawlings, Company F, of the

    Twenty-third Iowa, with their commands, broke the enemy's line in a swamp at the edge of the

    timber, and poured an enfilading fire into the ditches that routed the rebels in confusion.

    Lieutenant Rawlings captured the colors of the Sixty-first Tennessee, wresting them from the

    rebel color bearer
    . Captain Houston captured the colors of the Twenty-first Arkansas. Corporal

    John W. Boone, color bearer of the Twenty-third Iowa, fell, severely wounded; Corporal J. T.

    Shipman then grasped the colors and bore them gallantly to the front and through the whole

    charge.... special and honorable mention should be made of A. M. Lyon, Esq., Sutler of the

    Twenty-third Iowa, a brave old man, who took a gun at the commencement of the battle, went

    into the ranks, fought nobly, and fell mortally wounded. The death of colonel Kinsman of the

    Twenty-third Iowa, whose brave and gallant conduct is the theme of universal praise, fills the

    hearts of all who knew him with poignant sorrow. A splendid soldier, a perfect gentleman, and a

    finished scholar, endowed in the highest degree with the noblest qualities of true manhood, his

    loss cannot prove less to his State and country than a public calamity. The officers and soldiers

    of his command had learned to love and respect him with an earnestness and devotion rarely

    equaled. His loss is irreparable, but he fell as the true soldier wishes to fall, in the moment of

    victory, when his country's flag waved in triumph over the stronghold of treason and rebellion,

    and died as the true soldier wishes to die, with Christian resignation and fortitude.... Finally, I

    cannot close this report without expressing my admiration for the brave men in the ranks, to

    whose steadiness and determined courage is in a great measure due the glory of the brilliant and

    decisive victory of Big Black Bridge. To them I return my warmest thanks. A grateful country

    will see that their services are appropriately rewarded. 8

    8 War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Part 2, Vol. 24, pages 135 to 139


    The total loss of the Thirteenth Army Corps at the battle of the Big Black River Bridge was

    279, while the loss in General M. K. Lawler's brigade alone was 221, and of this number the

    Twenty-third Iowa lost 2 officers and 11 enlisted men killed, and 3 officers and 85 enlisted men

    wounded. Total loss of the regiment 101. 9 The two officers killed were Colonel Kinsman and


    Captain R. L. McCray and the four wounded were: Captain John C. T. Hull, Lieutenant S. G.

    Beckwith, J. D. Ewing and Washington Rawlings. Lieutenants Beckwith and Ewing

    subsequently died from the effect of their wounds. The casualties of the Twenty-third in this

    battle were exactly the same as those of the entire brigade at Port Gibson. Had the military career

    of the Twenty-third Iowa ended with this battle, its record would have been established as one of

    the best and bravest regiments in the army of the United States.

    9 War of the Rebellion Official Records, Series 1, Part 2, Vol. 24, page 130. Returns o

    Casualties in battle of Big Black River Bridge.

    The remainder of the 17th and all the next day after the battle were spent in caring for the

    wounded, burying the dead, and collecting the trophies of war,—the immense number of arms

    and accouterments left on the battlefield and captured with the prisoners, 3,000 in number. To

    the Twenty-third Iowa was assigned the duty of guarding the prisoners. General Lawler, at the

    conclusion of his report, says: ``The Twenty-third Iowa Volunteers, which had borne so

    distinguished a part and suffered so severely in the charge, was placed as a guard over the

    captured prisoners, and, by order of Major General U. S. Grant, has since gone north with them,

    thus losing to me for the time being the services of this command."

    The regiment now marched to the Yazoo River, as guard to the rebel prisoners. As soon as

    transportation could be procured, it proceeded with the prisoners to Memphis. Upon arriving at

    that place, the prisoners were turned over to the Commandant of the Post and the regiment

    returned to Young's Point, La., where it arrived a few days before the attack was made upon

    Milliken's Bend, where the garrison, consisting of untrained Negro troops about 800 strong, was

    threatened with attack by a full brigade of rebel troops under command of the rebel General

    McCulloch. General Elias S. Dennis was in command of the Post, and from his official report of

    the engagement the following extracts are made, to show the part taken by the Twenty-third

    Iowa. 10 After describing the preliminary movements and skirmishes of the Negro troops with

    the enemy, which occurred on June 6th, outside of his works, General Dennis proceeds to

    describe the terrible contest which ensued in the morning and forenoon of June 7, 1863.

    10 The compiler has made diligent search of the Official Records for the report of Colonel

    Glasgow, but without success.
  6. Motor7

    Motor7 Private

    Feb 8, 2018
    From Ancestry.com:

    Name: Washington Rawlings
    Age at Enlistment: 27
    Enlistment Date: 2 Aug 1862
    Rank at enlistment: 1st Lieutenant
    State Served: Iowa
    Was Wounded?: Yes
    Survived the War?: Yes
    Service Record: Commissioned an officer in Company F, Iowa 23rd Infantry Regiment on 19 Sep 1862.Promoted to Full Captain on 16 Jun 1863.Mustered out on 12 Nov 1863.
    Birth Date: abt 1835
    Death Date: 19 Nov 1917
    Death Place: Clackamas County, Oregon
    Sources: Roster & Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of RebellionResearch by Harold Slavik

    When Capt.George Washington Rawlings was born on July 8, 1832, in Sangamon, Illinois, his father, Benjamin, was 32 and his mother, Christena, was 24. He married Nancy J Rawlings in 1853 in Iowa. They had 12 children in 19 years. He died on November 19, 1917, in Portland, Oregon, having lived a long life of 85 years, and was buried in Oregon City, Oregon.

    Alan Polk, if you find his family tree, work forward from there and like ETR said, get in touch with living relatives if there are any.
  7. Motor7

    Motor7 Private

    Feb 8, 2018
    Btw, I'm getting a little better at this research thing, so I sent a direct descendant a msg on Ancestry asking about the flag. If she answers I'll let you know...........
  8. alan polk

    alan polk First Sergeant

    Jun 11, 2012
    Wow!! Yes, please let me know what you hear!!!
  9. Motor7

    Motor7 Private

    Feb 8, 2018
    I found a member on Ancestry that posted a photo of the flag in 2009:


    So the flag still exists, or did. Waiting to hear back from the member on Ancestry that posted the photo.
  10. Motor7

    Motor7 Private

    Feb 8, 2018
    Here is another article ref the capture of the flag, but for the life of me I can't make the print readable...it's a bad copy of a copy of a....

  11. Motor7

    Motor7 Private

    Feb 8, 2018
    Looks like your guess is right.

    I wonder why Tennessee or any other State would want a captured flag back? Men died defending it, and men died capturing it, so I think it really belongs to the family of Rawlings and the Sate that he fought for during the war, that's it's history. I do think that every effort should be made to preserve the flag, and if Iowa wants to assist in that matter I'm sure it would be welcome by the family.
  12. alan polk

    alan polk First Sergeant

    Jun 11, 2012
    Thanks for the info @Motor7

    It is good to see that it’s whereabouts is known. I hope the family knows how valuable, both monetarily and historically, it is. Again, thanks!!
  13. Package4

    Package4 Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

    Jul 28, 2015
    It was common years after the war to return captured flags, swords and other mementos identified, as a means to heal the rifts made by 4 years of war. Reading the OP article you see that the Captain said that he wouldn't sell it for any price, but would give it back to the man he took it from. There is also a fear that an individual family may not be able to care for a priceless relic, we have helped to preserve a half dozen flags over the years (3 from Tennessee) and it runs into the many thousands of dollars. Case in point, the flag of the 2nd MD CS Co A, shown in the Band of Brothers painting by Don Troiani, at Gettysburg, needed over $20,000 in restoration and stabilization and it was in fairly decent shape. The MD (Murray Flag) flag is now proudly displayed in Richmond, at the American Civil War Museum (Museum of the Confederacy); pictured below. We are now in the process of raising funds to restore the flag of the 63rd TN. IMG_0590 (1).JPG
  14. Motor7

    Motor7 Private

    Feb 8, 2018
    Thanks for the info Package4...very cool.
  15. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

    Dec 31, 2010
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    Having had a 3 x 1st cousin in Company D of the 63rd, I appreciate your efforts !


    Is the flag described in the link above, possibility the one being restored ?
  16. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

    Dec 31, 2010
    Kingsport, Tennessee

    Michael Kelly Lawler (1814 - 1882)

    Brigadier-General Michael Lawler : "and Lieutenant Rawlings, company F, of the Twenty-THIRD, with their commands, broke the enemy's line in a swamp at the edge of the timber, and poured an enfilading fire into the ditches that routed the rebels in confusion. Lieutenant Rawlings, company F, twenty-THIRD Iowa, captured the colors of the Sixty-first Tennessee, wresting them from the rebel color-bearer".

    "The enemy, though superior in numbers, fell back during the night, an we advanced on the morning of the 17th at the best speed of which the men were capable, passing through Edwards Depot, and reaching Black River in season to charge the left of the enemy's entrenchments at the time they were being most heavily driven on the right, and participating in the capture of the 60th East Tennessee (rebel) Regiment and some 100 stragglers besides, who fell into the hands of the First Brigade. With renewed satisfaction I am able to say that this success was bloodless, not costing us a man".............Colonel F.W. Moore 83rd Ohio.

    Motor7 and alan polk like this.

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