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Apron flag of 11th Virginia Cavalry

The following story appeared in A Diary With Reminiscences of the War and Refugee Life in the Shenandoah Valley 1860-1865, by Mrs. Cornelia Peake McDonald (Louisville, KY, 1975): "On July 13, 1863, a detachment of the 11th Virginia Cavalry, commanded by Major Edward H. McDonald, rear guard of Stuart's Cavalry on the retreat from Gettysburg, after repulsing attacks from the side streets of Hagerstown, was marching toward Williamsport, Maryland, in no merry mood. Major McDonald riding at the rear, heard vigorous cheering toward the front. Hurrying forward he saw a young girl standing in the door of an old stone mill wearing an apron in the form and colors of the Confederate flag. He begged a piece for a keepsake but she took off the apron and handed it to him. The command moved on, cheering with the apron flag proudly borne on a staff by private Charles Watkins of Company D, who had promised the girl to defend it with his life. A few miles further on, after another attack and repulse, the Major, looking over the field, found Watkins among the wounded and asked how he was. 'I think I am dying, but I have kept the flag.' He died shortly afterward. This incident has been immortalized by Mrs. Virginia Frazer Boyle in her poem of 1887, 'The Apron Flag,' ... The Apron Flag is now one of the most cherished possessions of the Major's son, Angus, of Charleston, West Virginia." An image of this flag is shown in the book, along with the poem. A similar version of this story appears in Memories, by Fannie A. Beers, Press of J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1888. This version has the "captain of Company D" asking "was he [Watson] badly hurt?" He replied, "Not much, captain, but I've got the flag! and, putting his hand in his bosom, he drew out the little apron and gave it to the officer. When asked how it came there,he said that when he was wounded and fell from his horse the Federals were all around him, and to prevent them from capturing it he had torn it from the staff and hid it in his bosom." Watson's leg had been shattered by a piece of shell, and he was carried back to Hagerstown where his leg was amputated. He died three days later and was buried "without a stone to mark the place where he sleeps." This story also appears under the title "The Young Color-Bearer," a paper read by Major E. H. McDonald, which appears in Southern Bivouac, vol. I, Sep 1882 - Aug 1883.