Battle Flags of the 19th Alabama
(Contributions by Bob Bradley, Alabama Dept. of Archives and History, are gratefully acknowledged. Flag illustrations by Howard Madaus.)
No original battle flag of the 19th Alabama Infantry Regiment has survived to our knowledge. A review of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (ORs) shows that a flag of the regiment was captured on July 28th, 1864 at the Battle of Ezra Chapel (Lick Skillet Road) by the 48th Illinois Infantry Regiment. Further research discloses that the 48th IL was on the opposite end of the battle line from where the 19th Ala was engaged! Appropriate state authorities in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois which had units engaged on that part of the line were contacted but they reported no record of any flag of the 19th Ala ever being in their possession. It is, perhaps, a great irony that many of the Confederate battle flags have survived to this day because they fell into the hands of their enemies on the battlefield. However, such does not appear to be the case in this instance.
We know that Confederate battle flags, particularly in the Army of Tennessee, embraced many different patterns and changed over the course of the war. What can we learn about these flags that might, and I want to emphasize the speculative nature of the following discussion, be applicable to the 19th Alabama Regiment?
The Nineteenth Regiment of Alabama Volunteers (19th Ala) was mustered into Confederate service in August, 1861. The "Stars and Bars", or the First National Flag, was adopted by the Confederate Congress in March, 1861. It is quite likely that the regiment carried a flag of the "Stars and Bars" design from the time it was mustered into service until, maybe March, 1862. It should be noted that the number of stars in this pattern varied as did the arrangement of stars on the canton. Two examples of this flag are shown below.
Although it can only be considered as coincidental, a copy of a letter from John Craig, a member of Co. I, written in August, 1861, is written on patriotic stationery which has the 7-star First National Flag printed on it, similar to the flag shown above. Another of John Craig's letters dated 18 November 1861 is also written on patriotic stationery, but this time, it is an 11-star First National flag with a large single star in the center of a circle of 10 stars.
In April, 1862, the 19th Ala was in the Army of the Mississippi, 2nd (Bragg's) Corps, 2nd (Withers') Division, 3rd (Jackson's) Brigade. Also in the brigade were the 17th and 18th Ala Regiments. The flag that the 18th Ala carried in the Battle of Shiloh is shown below. This flag measures 48 inches on the staff; however, the fly measurement is uncertain but at least 42 inches. The red cotton field is traversed by a dark blue cotton cross of the St. Andrew's design, 7 in. wide with a 3/4 in. wide edge on each side. Spaced every 5 in. from the center of the junction of the arms of the cross are 12 white silk, 6-pointed stars, each 4 in. in diameter. A 4 in. wide bunting border was probably originally pink. Along the staff edge, a strip of white cotton pierced with either 9 or 10 eyelets substitutes for the border. If we assume that all the regiments in Jackson's brigade carried the same pattern flag, then perhaps a flag of this design was carried by the 19th Ala from March-April 1862 to sometime in 1863.
From sometime in 1863 to perhaps the Winter/Spring of 1864, evidence suggests that the blue field quartered by a St. George's cross design was used. Three of these flags which have survived are from units (22nd Ala, 24th Ala, and Waters' Ala Battery) which served in Withers' (later Hindman's) Division in 1862 and 1863. We believe that the flag shown below, modeled on the surviving flag of the 22nd Ala, was carried by the 19th Ala in the Battle of Chickamauga (of course, it wouldn't have had "Chickamauga" embroidered on it at the battle, but you get the idea). The 22nd's flag was captured in that battle and both the 19th and 22nd regiments were in Deas' brigade at that time.
From the Winter/Spring of 1864 until the end of the war, our best guess is that the flag of the 19th Ala may have looked like the flag of the 26th/50th Ala, which also served in Deas' brigade of Hindman's division, shown below. This flag measures 37 in. on the staff by approximately 54 in. on its fly. Its 6 in. wide dark blue cross is flanked with white cotton, 2 in. wide. It bears 13 white cotton stars, each 4 in. across the points and spaced respectively on each arm at 9 in., 16.5 in., and 24.5 in. from the center star. Four red ties held the flag to its staff.
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