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WD 119 (44th GA?)

Hello All,

Today some of my coworkers we visiting the Virginia Historical Society, and one of them send me some pictures of a 3rd Bunting ANV flag that was on display there. I could see clearly in the photo that the flag bore the markings of WD 119. I quickly picked up my copy of "The Returned Battle Flags" to see what info it had about WD 119. When I saw that it that it was listed as loaned and not returned (as of 1905), I started to get curious. I texted my coworker and asked if there was an info tag near the flag and if he could send a picture of that (I will try to include both photos below). The information posted with the flag was curious in a couple of ways. It confirmed the date and location of capture listed in Returned Flags (May 10th, 1864 at Spotsylvania). It also listed it was from a Georgia regiment (but not which one). And finally, the location that loaned it to the VHS was unexpected...instead of being loaned from the MOC (now American Civil War Museum) or other museums I would expect might have had this flag, it said it was loaned from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

WD 199 Capture info in "Returned Flags" reads: "Rebel Battle Flag captured by Lieut. Joseph C. Paradis, Company C 5th Maine Volunteers May 10 1864. This flag cannot be identified. Supposed to have been loaned and never returned."

I started searching way back through old posts here on the forum, for info on WD 119, but I didn't really find much other than a 12 year old post where it was listed as the flag of the 38th VA captured at Gettysburg (this information was incorrect since that was was WD 45 at the old MOC). I then started searching through the forum for flags captured at Spotsylvania, and saw that Shawn P had been looking for info on the 44th GA losing a flag there (and also many assertions by people here that the 12th GA never lost a stand of colors, so it couldn't be them).

Next I started looking into the 44th GA and saw that they were in the correct position to have been hit hard by the 5th Maine Inf., and there are indeed some accounts of them losing their colors (as Shawn mentioned), on May 10th.
A post over in the Georgia forums here had the following to say about the 44th's Colorbearer and the loss of the flag...

"article from the Confederate Veteran mag., dated July, 1928, page 265.
The following account of the heroic death of a young boy was found among the papers of the late Milton A. Chandler, and was put in form for publication by Comptroller General William A. Wright, of Atlanta, from which this is taken:

The battle flag of the 44th Georgia Regiment, captured at Spottsylvania Courthouse, Va., May 10, 1864, was taken from the color bearer, THOMAS J. DINGLER, a young Spaulding County farmer boy, possibly 21 years of age. He belonged to Company E, 44th Georgia. Late on that May day of 1864, ten selected Yankee regiments were hurled against Dole's Ga. Brigade. They ran over the Confederate line and for a few minutes held part of the Confederate position. Gordon reenforced Doles and the Yankees were driven back.

Thomas J. Dingler, carrying the flag, was assailed by those of the yankee line who first came over the Confederate ditch. He fought back a number of them who had surrounded him, all tring to secure his flag, but they plunged their bayonets through him until he fell. But he fought to the very last and clung to his flag. When his body was found after the fight, witnesses state that he had received 14 bayonet wounds and he held tightly clutched in each hand fragments of the flag. With these precious fragments of the emblem of Southern rights, this hero was buried in his old gray suit on Spottsylvania bloody field. No tongue or pen can rightly picture this thrilling scene, the heroic death of a humble Confederate soldier.
[ Contributed by MRS. LENA FELKER LEWIS, from the historical files of the Agnes Lee Chapter, U.D.C., Decatur, Ga.] "

It appears that in later tellings of the story, Dingler was said to have more and more bayonet wounds added, and a few places added that he had saved anywhere from large pieces of the flag to in one telling it implied the flag was not captured from his dead body at all. So far the 44th seems to be the best and most likely candidate for WD 119 (since others maintain the 12th GA never lost a flag, and the 4th GA avoided losing their flag in this fight

Now on to the captor of the flag, Lieut. Paradis of the 5th Maine. He's not listed as getting a MOH for this flag, but some quick digging shows that he was killed at Cold Harbor. A fairly recent article about Lt. Paradis offers a possible explanation of what happened to the flag (at least for a short time). In mentioning his burial, the articles states "He was buried with his officer’s sword in a coffin draped in a captured Confederate battle flag."
This would at least explain where the flag (WD 119) was loaned out to, but to me it is a mystery of where/when it was actually returned...I would assume post 1905 but possibly to a different organization which now has it on loan?

I would be interested to know if anyone has more information about this particular flag and that might help show if my theory about it so far is correct or if there is some bit of information I am missing. Hopefully I have shared the pictures above correctly so you can view the flag and info tag, though you might have to copy and paste the links.

Josh Bucchioni

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WD 119 (44th GA?)
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