Old South Military Antiques

Presentation Swallowtail Flag
Item #: OS-7207


  "Presented by Maj. Gen. T.J. Churchill”

The swallowtail Confederate flag shown here was a presentation from CS Major General Thomas J. Churchill, whose lithograph has been pasted to the front of the flag.

The black and white flag measures approximately thirty inches on the hoist and sixty-eight inches on the fly as made; now sixty-four inches with loss to points. An inked presentation across the white border reads: "Presented by Maj. Gen. T.J. Churchill” in large letters, above a stylized eagle. The flag is hand sewn throughout; it is attached to the pole by means of iron tacks like the Burger & Brother 1st National guidons, though this flag is four times as large. The flag has been very nicely framed and is ready to hang. I do not know for certain that UV protectant Plexiglass was used, but I do assume so, judging from the quality of the mounting and framing.

Thomas James Churchill was a native son of Louisville, Kentucky. Born in 1824, he was twenty-two when the war with Mexico began. As a lieutenant in the First Kentucky Mounted Riflemen he was scouting in January 1847 with sixteen men when the group was captured by Mexican cavalry. Sent to Mexico, he was held prisoner until the end of the war.

He moved to Arkansas in 1848 and settled in Little Rock, where he married Anne, the daughter of Senator Ambrose Sevier and settled down to the life of a planter and postmaster until 1861.

When the South was threatened with invasion Churchill raised a cavalry regiment, the 1stArkansas Mounted Riflemen. He proceeded to earn a reputation for competence and his service at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek garnered him the stars of a brigadier. He performed admirably at Pea Ridge, and especially at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky, where he personally rallied a line that was on the verge of collapse.

His abilities had not gone unnoticed, and in late 1862 he was placed in overall command at Arkansas Post, a very important position protecting the entrance to the Arkansas River where he was to focus on attacking shipping and transport on the Mississippi River. This was such a threat that the Union marshalled 33,000 men to uproot his 4,900 man command. Hopelessly outgunned, his command surrendered on January 11, 1863, an act which Churchill vehemently denied authorizing for the rest of his life. They were exchanged and sent east as a brigade, joining Patrick Cleburne's Division (fittingly, Churchill had fought alongside Cleburne at Richmond). Soon after, he was sent back across the Mississippi, where Churchill was given a field command under Kirby Smith. His next major challenge was to deflect the Union’s Red River Campaign of 1864. Union forces attempted a two-pronged approach to take Shreveport, Louisiana. Churchill led Arkansas troops to deflect a major Union drive at Pleasant Hill on April 9th. On March 18, 1865 Churchill was promoted to Major General, too late to do much with his new command. A fighter to the end, when the troops under his command were surrendered on May 26th, a month and half after Appomattox, he still refused to surrender with them. Instead he led a band of stalwarts into Mexico with General Kirby Smith.

Eventually his temper cooled and he bowed to necessity and returned to Arkansas, where he served as state treasurer for six years and was then elected Governor of Arkansas. He died in Little Rock on March 10, 1905 and lies beside Anne in Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery.

Now, back to his flag. Was it a headquarters’ flag? I don’t know. There is no known flag that compares to it known to have been used by the U.S. or C.S. Army, however the C.S. Army, especially, did use a large variety of unauthorized flags. All that I can say with certainty is that it is War Between the States vintage, and that it did belong to C.S. Major General Churchill. How he used it, will require a better researcher than me.
Price $9,800.00 USD