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The Flag worth two Congressional Medals of Honor

Battle Flag of the 41st Alabama Infantry Regiment, courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

This is the Alabama Infantry Regiment that W. A. Leland, M.D. was the surgeon of; Capt. John Drish Leland, was its Adjutant, and William A. Leland, Jr. was a private.  John Drish Leland had been in the 5th Alabama prior to his commission.  See letter requesting same.  The Department of Archives and History has not replied to my note about this first capture, but this was after John Drish had been captured at Murphreesboro, he was paroled in a few months and he rejoined the regiment.  According to his letter to his Aunt Judith Smith he expected to be released in early April of 1863, he was.  Dr. William A. Leland had by this time been reassigned to the Army of Tennessee, and his younger son, W.A.Leland, Jr., had been wounded at the Battle of Murphreesboro and I don't believe was still with the regiment.  W.A.Leland, Jr. was discharged early 1863.


Yes, this flag was captured twice according to my research, once in 1863 in Tennessee, by WALKER, JAMES C.

Rank and organization: Private, Company K, 31st Ohio Infantry. Place and date: At Missionary Ridge, Tenn., 25 November 1863. Entered service at: Springfield, Ohio. Birth: Clark County, Ohio. Date of issue: 25 November 1895. Citation: After 2 color bearers had fallen, seized the flag and carried it forward, assisting in the capture of a battery. Shortly thereafter he captured the flag of the 41st Alabama and the color bearer.

He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, then at the end of the war in Petersburg Virginia it was captured again,and again a Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded.

Provenance Reconstruction:

This flag is a Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida issue manufactured at the Charleston Depot. It may have been issued to the regiment prior to their arrival in Virginia in April 1864. Flags of this pattern were issued with red pole sleeves for artillery, yellow for cavalry and blue for infantry. For some unexplained reason, the 41st acquired a flag with a red pole sleeve.

The flag was captured by Corporal Franklin W. Lutes, Co. D, 111th New York Infantry during the Confederate charge upon Federal lines at Petersburg, Virginia March 31, 1865. Corporal Lutes was recommended for and received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The flag was forwarded through proper channels by both Major General George Meade and Brevet Major General Nelson A . Miles. It was eventually forwarded to the U. S. War Department where it was assigned Capture Number 259. It was returned to the State of Alabama effective March 25, 1905.

In August 1905 the flag was loaned to a group of Confederate veterans for a reunion held in Carrollton, Alabama. The flag was returned on August 17th. In a letter dated the previous day, William G. Robertson informed Director Thomas Owen, Department of Archives and History, that former Colonel M. L. Stansel and a former flag bearer T. A. Stinson of the 41st Alabama Infantry did not agree with the information concerning the capture of their flag. According to the two old veterans, this flag was replaced by a new one when the regiment was transferred to Virginia. This flag was placed in a trunk, which was left behind in Petersburg, Virginia when the city was evacuated and that it fell into Federal hands in that manner.1 According to them, their new flag was never captured and was surrendered at Appomattox.2 Neither the Official Records nor the War Department records of captured flags support these claims. In fact, Lutes also captured the flag bearer and a member of the color guard from whom he must have secured the name and number of the regiment since the flag itself is not marked. Additionally, Stansel had been temporarily placed in command of Moody's brigade at the time of the engagement and was concerned with matters at the brigade rather than the regimental level. That and the intervening 40 years, may account for the discrepancies. The records of T. A. Stinson do not indicate his dates of service as a flag bearer nor confirm his presence at the engagement in Virginia.

At the time this flag was captured, the 41st Alabama Infantry was brigaded with the 43rd, 59th and 60th Alabama Infantry regiment. The 43rd and 59th lost their flags on the previous March 25th leaving only the flag of the 60th, which was reported by the veterans as having been surrendered at Appomattox.
 
 

Sources:
       Curator's Object Files, Civil War Flags, Alabama Department of Archives and History.
       Woodhead, Henry, editor. Echoes of Glory, Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, Time Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1991.
       U.S. War Department. American Decorations 1862-1926, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1927.
       U.S. War Department. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
       U. S. House of Representatives, 50th Congress, 1st Session, Executive Document No. 163. Captured Battle Flags: Letter from the Secretary of War with Enclosures, In response to a resolution of the House calling for information relative to captured standards, flags and colors, War Department, Washington, February 16, 1888.
 
 
 

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Information on James C. Walker from CIVIL WAR MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS
http://www2.army.mil/cmh-pg/mohciv2.htm

© 2000 Richard M. Leland III