Re: 2nd - 6th Missouri Battle Flag at Franklin
In Gen. W.L. Elliott's after action report of captured flags and swords Elliott states that "Corpl. Peter Woolf, Company A, Eighty-eighth Illinois volunteers, captured a rebel battle-flag inscribed 'First and Fourth Missouri Infantry.' He later admits that the "five flags captured by the Eighty-eighth Illinois were displayed before General Thomas when he visited the brigade on its arrival at Nashville. They were afterward sent home by those who captured them. Since then they have been ordered returned, and will be forwarded to department headquarters as soon as they arrive." Woolf's claim has some credibility due to the unit I.D. The Mobile Depot flags carried by the Missouri Brigade would have been so marked. Woolf's flag was not returned to the War Department and hopefully may still survive.
Another claim in Elliott's report states, "Corpl. J.K. Merrifield, Company C, Eighty-eighth Illinois Volunteers, captured and brought from the field two rebel flags, one a brigade and the other a regimental flag without designation."
Merrifield later wrote his account of the "capture," saying that while on the field he "noticed particularly an officer most gallantly leading his command as they steadly advance to the assault. I saw hinm fall and soon after the assaulting forces were repulsed I got out over our works and went to him. He told me he was in command of the First and Fourth Missouri Missouri Infantry and that he was badly wounded." Assuming Merrifield's remembrances to be accurate up to this point, the mortally wounded officer would hjave been Col. Hugh Garland, who is indeed known to have been killed in the charge. "He asked me for water, which I gave him from my canteen and he then asked me to take off his [sword] belt which he said was hurting him, he being seriously wounded. I did so and was obliged to leave him as a new line of troops was approaching to again attempt the assault on our works. I picked up also the battle flag of the First and Fourth Missouri Infantry, which was on the ground surrounded with the dead and wounded men of that regiment." I personally doubt that the "flag without designation" is, as he states, the flag of the 1st/4th Regiment. Merrifield concludes his account by saying,"I have in some way lost the belt which I took with the sword. The flag I sent to Chicago to the Board of Trade and it was burned there in the great fire of 1871...James K. Merrifield." Considering the conglomeration of personnel in this great charge at Franklin, and the tremendous casualties, the flag found on the ground could have been from any regiment or even a personal or company flag. He does not even describe the configuration.
The flag captured by Corp. Peter Woolf, and verified by his regimental commander and being identified as the flag of the 1st/4th, could still be out there somewhere and I surely do hope that someday it surfaces.