|"145 years later, Alabama gets flag back"
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|Author:||Boyd [ Thu May 24, 2007 9:52 am ]|
|Post subject:||"145 years later, Alabama gets flag back"|
<font color="yellow">Dang! No wunder we rebs lost. We wuz fightin against the Nebraskans too! [:D]
Just kidding. The flag only ended up in Nebraska.</font id="yellow">
Picture and story link: http://www.al.com/birminghamnews/
145 years later, Alabama gets flag back
Thursday, May 24, 2007
News Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON - The last time anyone from Alabama saw the flag of the 1st Alabama Infantry was when its own Confederate troops woke up for morning muster on a Mississippi River island off the Missouri shore on April 8, 1862.
In that day's surrender, Brig. Gen. Elazer Arthur Paine confiscated the 7-foot, red, white and blue banner as a trophy, and decades later, a Civil War historian would speculate only that the flag was still somewhere up North.
On Wednesday, Alabama got it back.
"Now, 145 years later, the flag that has been missing in action is finally coming home to Alabama," said Bob Bradley, curator at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
In an outdoor deaccession ceremony with the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, two Nebraska congressmen and two Nebraska state archivists handed over the tattered battle flag to Alabama's own contingent of politicians and historians.
It was a breezy day on Capitol Hill, so the frayed and delicate banner stayed in its special, acid-free box.
"If we unfurl it, we'll be running after little pieces," said Deb Arenz, the Nebraska curator who personally packed and carried the artifact on the commercial flight to Washington.
After some work in Maryland with a textile conservationist, the flag will eventually be displayed in Montgomery, along with the colors of two of the regiment's 10 companies, a rare combination in Civil War displays, Bradley said.
Unlike flags made from Southern ladies' silk dresses, the wool and cotton of 1st Infantry's flag will be easier to conserve.
After Alabama's delegation accepted the flag Wednesday, the ceremony moved inside a House office building, where gloved curators carefully unfurled it for photographers.
The seven stars in the upper corner represent the seven states that had seceded from the Union early in the formation of the Confederate States of America. It also has broad red and white bars patterned after the original Confederate national flag that had been raised in Montgomery earlier that spring.
The regiment was the first in Alabama allowed to add a battle honor to its flag. To commemorate the bombardment of Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island at Pensacola, the flag has the dates of Nov. 22 and 23, 1861, painted in gold along the bottom. It was carried into combat again at Fort Pickens on Jan. 1-2, 1862.
Hung on a wall:
So how did the flag wind up in Nebraska?
The Union Army's Paine passed the souvenir to his son Phelps, also a military officer, who settled in Omaha after the war, according to Michael Smith, director of the Nebraska State Historical Society. The younger Paine was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for Union veterans.
Smith speculates the flag was most likely displayed on the wall of one of the GAR's community halls.
In 1949, the GAR's collections were transferred to the Nebraska historical society but the Alabama flag stayed packed away, unidentified, until last year when a national expert was consulted and talks with Alabama historians began.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., who said he is a member of the Civil War Preservation Caucus in Congress, caught wind of the decision to send it back to Alabama and organized the Washington ceremony.
"We are very delighted to be here today to share this piece of history with not only the people of Alabama but with the American people," Smith said.
Taking the hand-off were Ed Bridges, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, Rep. Robert Aderholt of Haleyville and Rep. Terry Everett of Rehobeth. Everett specifically asked about the men of the 1st Alabama Infantry regiment and learned about half of them were from companies based in what is now his southeastern Alabama congressional district.
"It is a touch of history and one we shall cherish forever," Everett said.
Aderholt, who referred to the conflict as the War Between the States, said it was important to preserve history, both the positive and negative aspects.
"It's so important to making sure we have a nation where we know where we came from and what we can learn for the future," he said.
Â© 2007 The Birmingham News
Â© 2007 al.com All Rights Reserved.
BG Boyd Denner
"God Bless the Alabamians" Gen. Robert E. Lee - The Wilderness 1864
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