Alabama Flags Need Restoration

by Fred Ray on April 28, 2008 · 0 comments

A nice article on Civil War flag restoration in the Montgomery Advertiser.

Confederate flags — 86 of them — are dirtied, blood-stained and tattered by musket fire, time and the elements.

Alabama lays claim to a collection of Civil War banners that historians rank the third largest in the world. Only the North Carolina State Museum in Raleigh and the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va., have more.

“Many of our flags … were in the thick of many hard fought battles,” said Robert Bradley of the Department of Archives and History, where the collection is housed.

“If they could speak, they would probably all let out a very loud Rebel yell,” he said.

All but 14 of the flags, though, need to be conserved — a time-consuming and expensive process. Of the 14 already restored, only four are on display.

You can see a slide show of several of the flags here, such as the one carried by the Magnolia Cadets above), later part of the Fourth Alabama.

“Selma’s Magnolia cadets began the war with a force of more than 1,400 men that marched under a silk banner made by two Dallas County sisters, Elo-die Todd and Martha Todd White, the half-sisters of Mary Todd Lincoln, President Abraham Lincoln’s wife,” he said.

The cadets were assigned to the 4th Alabama and saw combat in most of the bloodiest battles, Bradley said. Only 202 of 1,422 cadets survived the war.

The banner is made of off-white silk with a magnolia wreath painted on it along with its company name and the year it was organized, 1861.

The company received the flag April 24, 1861, and departed for Georgia, where the flag drew the attention of the Columbus Daily Sun in its May 4, 1861, edition.

“The Magnolia cadets and Capt. N.H.R. Dawson from Selma, Ala. passed through Atlanta a few days ago, on their way to Virginia, carrying a beautiful flag, which was made and presented to them by a sister of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.”


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