Missouri Battle Flags: Confederate and Federal

"Veterans Flag" of the 1st Regiment Missouri Cavalry Volunteers

“Veterans Flag” of the 1st Regiment Missouri Cavalry Volunteers

The state of Missouri is unusual, in that it fielded a large number of both U.S. and CSA units of state volunteer troops.  At the link below you can examine infantry, cavalry and artillery flags from Missouri units on both sides of the “Brother’s War” in addition to the personal flag of Confederate General (and later Missouri Governor) John Sappington Marmaduke and the captured flag of the “Beauregard Rifles” (possibly the flag of Company “A”, 9th Alabama Infantry”).

The flags, often with major wear and battle damage bear a variety of battle honors, including most of the great battles of the Western Theater, including Ft Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, and the many battles of the Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta Campaigns.

Many also bear the names of lesser known fights from Missouri’s bitter “civil war, within the Civil War”, fought between Missourians as they struggled for control of the state:  Black Water, Silver Creek (Roan’s Tan Yard), Lone Jack and Neosho.

Unique flags include the green regimental color of the 7th Missouri Infantry, the “Irish Seventh”, one of two officially ethnic Irish regiments of Missouri volunteers during the war. Although badly damaged, it is still easy to see why it was considered one of the most beautiful flags produced during the war. The obverse shows a golden sunburst, behind a wreath of shamrocks, charged with a golden Irish harp and a wolf hound. The reverse shows the sunburst and a golden dawn, with the Gaelic war cry “Faj an Bealac!” [a variant transliteration of Faugh an Bealac], meaning “Clear the Way!”

Of special interest are the special “Veterans” flags issued to by the (Unionist) state government of Missouri to units which reenlisted at the end of three years service. The blue flags bear the state arms (rather than the Federal eagle) in gold, with the word “Veterans” and the unit designation on the reverse. These flags tell a story of the contest for legitimacy, and the Unionist’s claim to recognition as the lawful government of the state. At the beginning of the war, the secessionist Missouri State Guard had designated a blue flag with the state arms in gold (the unofficial state flag in common use) as the State Guard battle flag. By issuing Federal veteran units the state flag in its own name, the Unionist government of Provisional Governor Hamilton Gamble was making the public statement that his administration, not the government-in-exile of Missouri’s Confederates, was the legitimate government of Missouri.

As for Missouri’s Confederates, they are represented as well, with both the “starry cross” of the commonly known Confederate battle flag, and examples of “Price’s Flag” (aka the “Missouri Battle Flag”) popular with many Missouri Confederate regiments in the later part of the war (a blue flag, bordered in red, with a white Latin cross near the fly).

1st Regiment Missouri Cavalry (Dismounted), CSA

1st Regiment Missouri Cavalry (Dismounted), CSA

So, click on the link below, and enjoy the fine work the conservators in Missouri are doing, and all the great things the state staff and volunteers in Missouri are doing to preserve and publicize the history of America’s most divided state.

http://cdm.sos.mo.gov/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/cwflag

Categories: Missouri Civil War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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