Of Flags Early, Southern, & Captured

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So here’s a rare question from myself to those South of the Mason Dixion... the Cleveland Light Artillery captured a “rebel” flag in 1861 in West Virginia. It’s long since disappeared. Any idea if this would have been the 1st Confederate National Flag, the Bonnie Blue... ? It was captured along with the Sesch cannon, a James Rifle from Tredegar that probably belonged to the militia in Virginia and I think some headquarters baggage if that helps ID things. Obviously the original no longer exists but a proximate guess?
 

ucvrelics

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Since there were 3 CS flags that were picked up by the yankees at Philippi, its hard to say which one the Cleveland Light Arty picked up. Below is the last known account of the flag but it doesn't say which type it was.

1558211923571.png
 
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Ah I’d forgotten that it was a trophy of Phillipi. That might offer some clues, I know the 16th OVI took a 1st National Flag variant with a single star surrounded by the word “Virginia”... so maybe a similar design.

Edit: ok so if there were only 3 flags captured, there seems to be records of all 3:
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View attachment 308011

View attachment 308012
Makes me wonder how they all ended up back in Virginia, if half of them took an excursion to Ohio?
 
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http://www.blueandgrayreunion.org/index.php/battle-history/battle-flags

Reading up on the matter... I am only more confused and I’m convinced it’s because something has gone wrong in the historical record. One Lars Bryne of Phillipi, WV of the Grey and Blue Reunion claims that the flag captured by the 16th OVI “doesn’t exist”, which is demonstrably false... it belonged to the 25th Virginia originally although I think it might have actually been taken at Rich Mountain not Phillipi... but then again it is recorded as being taken at Phillipi by the old Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond and the 25th were at Phillipi so it’s equally possible the flag was in fact taken there. A flag said to be captured at Phillipi, the second of my pictures was on display in Battle Abbey, by the look of the photos in the WV archives I’d say in the 1950s. It may be the very same “Virginia Star” flag of the 16th OVI as the flags at Battle Abbey were transferred to the Museum of the Confederacy and the picture is low quality. It definitely isn’t the HQ flag, that seems to have been the standard stars and bars design. Anyways, we know that the HQ flag was taken by some guys from Wheeling, so we know that it isn’t the one that the CLA had. So that leaves the “Churchville Cavalry Flag”, which is the Virginia Seal flag I posted, or the Palmetto flag. Really I can’t find any evidence of the Palmetto flag other than it would make more sense for it to fly over the courthouse. Ah the fun of conflicting unreliable sources. I *might* lean towards the hypothesis that the flag was the Palmetto on the basis that seems more national and “rebel”... and if it was in the possession of the CLA then that might explain its nonsurvival, as most Cleveland Militia stuff was destroyed in a fire in the 1880s... alternatively maybe the flag taken was the Virginia Seal as it’s captors are otherwise unmentioned.
 
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OK so I think I have this figured out (?).

The “Virginia Star” flag was taken at Phillippi by the 16th Ohio, and the “Virginia Seal” by the 14th Ohio. The HQ flag, a bullet riddled Stars & Bars is taken by WV troops. Haven’t found any pictures of it yet. The “Virginia Star” flag belonged to the 25th Virginia and given the context probably didn’t fly over the courthouse. I’m skeptical of the association of the “Churchville Cavalry” with the “Virginia Seal” flag it could very equally be a battle flag or have flown over the Courthouse but I think the size does point to battle flag.

That 3rd flag I pictured is unrelated, it was given by some Tennessee troops to Virginia and just happened to be in the same display post war and thus wound up mentioned in the WV archives. Neat looking but not anywhere near Philippi.

That leaves either the Palmetto flag. UCV, aside from the Blue & Grays are there any other sources from Phillippi that describe it being there?
 
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James Brenner

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Here's some background that may be of use. Generally speaking, there was no specific directive governing captured battle flags. In most cases, the flags were passed up through the chain of command, sometimes with a note explaining date and place of capture; sometimes not. In some cases, the captors kept the flags as souvenirs. Those flags that were sent up the chain eventually ended up at the Adjutant General's office in D.C. - about 500 of them. In 1905, the USG sent all the flags back to the governors of each former Confederate state. Those that couldn't be associated with a particular unit ended were given to the Confederate Memorial Association in Richmond.

Before returning the flags, the AGs office developed an inventory of each flag with as much information as they could determine. Two of the flags listed in the inventory are flags captured at Phillipi.
#29: Confederate Flag, Stars and Bars, captured at Phillipi, Virginia, June 3rd 1861 by Lieut. Wm. B. McCartney, Co. B 16th Regiment Ohio Volunteers. Returned 3/25/05 to Virginia.
#84: Virginia State Flag captured at Battle of Philippi Va. June 3rd 1861 by the 14th Regiment Ohio Volunteers. Inscribed: Presented by the Ladies of Bath Va. Motto: God Protect the Right.

There is no listing for a third flag, but that doesn't mean anything. BTW, all of this information is taken from The Returned Battle Flags, Richard Rollins, ed. (Redondo beach, CA: Rank and File Publications, 1995).
 
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One of these days, I have got to go and see what the Barnett papers actually say about all this stuff that happened to the Cleveland Light Artillery. He was planning on writing a book on it, evidently, I am not sure if the “Reminscences of the Cleveland Light Artillery” was said book or if it was an earlier history that Barnett meant to improve on... either way they might have letter, accounts ect that might help straighten out some of the more enduring questions I have about them. Prehaps there is a better discription of the Flag in those papers... I’ll try and get a hold of the researchers at the Western Reserve Historical Society. Anyhow, I’m sure if the flag wasn’t returned to the South, that it was probably burned up in the big fire that consumed the Cleveland Armory in the 1890s. The Cleveland Grays, the oldest unit in the city were only able to save a fragment of their original flag of 1837, and that is just barely recognizable (though it may have been pretty tattered before it caught fire, it was some 50 years old at the time). I can only imagine what state the Confederate flag would have been in after a fire like that.

If at some point I get a good idea what the flag would have been, I’d love to get a replica. It would be an interesting conversation piece for my impression and I could take a picture of it with the scesh gun!
 
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James Brenner

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You're correct that Barnett wanted to write a book and eventually produced the Reminiscences. He also wanted to write a regimental history of the 1st Regiment, OVLA. He sent questionnaires to as many former members of each battery as he could asking them about their service. He received a fair number of responses and was in the process of slowly collating the replies when he died. Those responses comprise the majority of Barnett's military papers. Documents specific to the CLA are meager. Admittedly, it's been several years since I looked through the Barnett papers, but if I recall correctly, the papers dealing with the 3 months service are limited to orders, messages, and some returns. I do not recall any mention of flags. There is more info on the post-war CLA than the early CLA. I believe you've seen the photos of the CLA although the WRHS has a post-war image in their collection.

Still, it's worth your time and effort to visit the WRHS. As I said, it's been several years since I've looked through Barnett's papers and it's possible they may have acquired additional material.
 
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The returns sound interesting, where there any which pre-dated the war or just the 3 month’s men? Either way they’d be useful to me since aside from knowing the CLA had six guns, most of the bronze 6 pdrs, there isn’t much out there in the way of returns from 3 month guys due to the chaotic circumstances under which they were called up.

Barnett trying to write a regimental history after finishing Reminisences makes sense, it really drives home how independent the batteries really were since even their ultimate commander had little first hand knowledge of what they were all doing! Quite a different story to the CLA. Yes, I think I’ve seen just about all the pictures of the CLA out there, though I’d be happy to be proven wrong! Many CLA people went on to do other interesting things during the war, arguably the 19th & 20th Independent Battery’s were more direct successors to the organization during and after the war, and of course they were closely allied with the Grays. I believe they still serve the artillery boys infamous punch at social occasions...
 
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