The Civil War Flags Message Board

Re: WD Capture No. 224 - Hugh's response

Hugh & Greg,

Great stuff on the flags. I do not pretend to be an expert on flags and leave that to you guys. I'm not sure I know the difference between a St. Andrews and a saltire, and thank you for educating me on it. Is one more of a rectangle, while the other a square? My expertise is in Peach Tree Creek, the 31st Miss. Inf. Regt., its battles including Peach Tree Creek and Franklin (the Eastern Flank, or Stewart's Corps attack), and on the Confederate Army of Mississippi in general which was first created by Gen. Bearegard as the Confederate troops merged on Corinth after the fall of Ft.s Donelson & Henry. The Army of Tenn. first got its name in Nov. 1862 at Chattanooga by Genl. Bragg after the withdrawal following the Battle of Perryville.

Interestingly, the name that was first given was the Army of the Mississippi by Genl. Beauregard, which caused some confusion because Union armies were typically named after rivers, and Genl. John Pope commanded the Union Army of the Miss., so the Confederate Army of Mississippi soon dropped the "the". Although these men began coming to Ga. in May 1864 at Resaca, it retained this separate Army distiction until July 26 (see O.R., Series I, vol. 38, Part V, pp. 912) when Genl Hood redesignated it Stewart's Corps, or the Third Corps, Army of Tennessee after the battles of Peach Tree Creek (July 20) and Decatur(or Atlanta, July 22)but before Ezra Church (or Lickskillet July 28), although many men in the Army of Miss. always felt somewhat apart from the other two Corps.

My comments suggesting a "National"flag, and a "battle" or "regimental flag," are just thoughts at this point, and I have no evidence suggesting just how many flags were carried into Peach Tree by the 31st Miss. or Featherston's Brigade. However, I note the following comments from Union participants who saw Featherston's charge, and Scott's right half of its brigade charge:

1. They came on in masses, not lines, with battle flags, many of them new and beautiful... (These men had just crossed the Tanyard Branch and the surrounding tangled undergrowth near the creek by "the right of oompanies" before reforming on the north side of the branch under fire, hence the "masses" comment).
2. Ward's Division captured seven stands of colors.
3. Ward's, Geary's, Williams' and Newton's four Divisions all repeatedly commented on how large was the Confederate force attacking them, giving estimates from 2 to 10 times the actual number that faced them, with most accounts agreeing on about 4 times the number.

Feathston's charge was largly in the open, across an old old open field, while most of Hardee's Corps, the left half of Scott's brigade and the two attacking brigades of Walthall came on in dense wooded areas. While it is certainly commonplace to exagerate the enemy's number, these Yankees were veterans of three years of fighting in places like Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga, and they could certainly count the number of flags opposing them to get an idea of the enemy's strength. I just surmize that more than one flag per regiment could have made the charge at Peach Tree to: 1. show off each regiment's pluck as this was the first attack since New Hope and the first charge that Loring's men had made during the Georgia Campaign; 2. help to increase morale as the removal of Joe Johnston had a huge impact on these men from Miss., as most of Loring's men had been with Johnston since May-June of 1863 at Canton, Miss., 3. with the change over to Hood, and the outright talk of resigning by officers in many units, it would not be a stretch to see these units demand to carry every flag that they had in their camp on the field, and thus there was not strict enforcement of the one falg rule in this battle, 4. it is possible that the Brigade and Division Commanders, Featherston, Scott, Loring, Walthall, etc. cosidered the shock value of more flags, giving the impression that there were more men attacking them than just five regiments and one battalion from Featherston, (or, 1230 men, when every Yankee that saw them and fought them swore that they were facing 5,000 to 10,000, etc.
5. There is also commentary about the Featherston attack coming on in three lines: one apparently was the skirmish line for a part of the charge, the second was the main line, and the third is anybody's guess, although mine is that the brigade officers and their staffs and some non-combatants like the physicians and stretcher bearers, Featherston to the right-center his brigade, Loring to his left, and Scott sliding further to the right of his brigade to maintain bettwe visual contact with his line, and Featherston's than the dense woods to his left. Should Ward and Geary's men be looking at all of this and say 12-15 flags, they could have made a different conclusion about the numbers attacking them rather than if it werew just 5 or 6 flags opposing.

All of the above is in fun, and I am throwing out these arguments for consideration, not neccessarily that I believe them, or that any unit had more than one flag on the field, but I am simply trying to rule in or out all possibilities and to reconcile two problematic facts that we do have:

1. Ward's line about capturing seven stands of colors (Query-what is a "stand of colors"? one flag, a group of flags?), particularly when there were only 6 units from Featherston that opposed him and there is no knowledge of a lost flag in the 22nd Miss or the 1st Battl SS, (note-I have ruled out the loss of any of Maney's (Cheatham's Division) flags at PC to Ward for a number of reasons which I'll not cover here), and

2. Why are the 33rd Miss. and the WD Capture No. 224 flags Second Nationals with gold fringe that match both captured at PC, apparently both being from Feathston's Mississippians, while the 31st Miss. flag is a battle or regimental flag? Also, I am certain that at the Battle of Franklin the 31st carried only 1 flag as there is much commentary about its handling and preservation from capture during the charge.

Also, note that the "Featherston Division" (or Brigade) flag captured at Franklin looks like a cavalry split tail flag (I don't know the technical name), but it is blue and white, has a german-looking cross on it, and does not look anything like a battle or national flag. I have no idea what Scott's Flag looked like, but I agree that he was positioned with the right half of the brigade in the attack and likely around the edge of the woods just south of the Tanyard Branch Park and parking lot. So, it is possible that he had a flag in the ball park, but it seems unlikely that he trailed the left or left-center of Featherston's attack, if that is indeed where the flag (WD No. 224) was captured. After Polk was killed on June 14 at Pine Mtn., Feathston temporarily commanded the division while Loring commanded the Corps (or "Army of Miss.") until Stewart was promoted.

Query-is it possible that the WD Capture No. 224 flag was from the 31st Miss.? Thus, making the 12 star flag reportedly the 31st Miss. flag (I believe WD Capture No. 226) a mystery.

Query-why would the 31st Miss. carry a battle flag when the 40th Miss (if WD Cap. 224 is theirs), the 3rd Miss, and the 33rd Miss. are all second nationals?

Thanks, guys and I'll look forward to continuing to dialogue with both of you via email, as well.

Bob Jenkins,
Dalton, Ga.

Messages In This Thread

Re: War Department Capture No. 224
Re: War Department Capture No. 224
Re: WD Capture No. 224 - Hugh's response
Re: WD Capture No. 224 - Hugh's response
Re: WD Capture No. 224 - Hugh's response
WD Capture No. 224
Re: WD Capture No. 224
Re: WD Capture No. 224
Re: War Department Capture No. 224
E-Mail Response Sent *NM*