Battle flag of the 21st Regiment

                                                                             South Carolina Volunteers

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    This is one of the best documented flags in existence.  Its history is recorded from the time it was made until today.  Its history begins, fittingly enough, in Charleston, South Carolina when the Confederate States of America contracted with the well-known military outfitter Hayden & Whilden for the manufacture of official flags.  For the sum of $50.00 Hayden & Whilden delivered the flag shown here on February 10, 1863.  The record of this flag’s purchase is recorded in the Confederate Citizens & Business File at the National Archives; a copy of which is included with the flag.

     July 1863 found the 21st Regiment South Carolina Volunteers manning the rifle pits on Morris Island protecting the approach to the massive fort known to history as Battery Wagner of 54th Massachusetts fame.  On July 10, the 9th Maine regiment formed a part of the assaulting forces in the attacks on Fort Wagner.

     Colonel Sabine Emery, 9th Maine Volunteers, wrote to Maine Adj. Gen. J. L. Hodsdon that….July 4 the regiment went to Folly Island, and on the 10th in small boats went up Folly River, under fire of the enemy’s battery and landed on Morris Island, charged and carried the rifle pits in front of his works, capturing the colors of the Twenty-First South Carolina Regiment

Source: Annual Report of the Adj Gen. of the State of Maine for the year ending December 31, 1863.

     Brigadier General George C. Strong, commanding the brigade composed of the 9th Maine Volunteers, 3rd New Hampshire Volunteers, 48th New York Volunteers; the 76th Pennsylvania Volunteers and the 6th Connecticut Volunteers wrote on July 16, 1863. (at Morris Island, July 10, 1863) The two columns now moved forward, under a lively discharge of shell, grape, and canister, converging toward the works nearest the southern extremity of the island, and thence along its commanding ridge and eastern coast, capturing successively the eight batteries of one heavy gun each, occupying the commanding points of the that ridge, besides two batteries, mounting, together, three 10-0inch seacoast mortars.  All this ordnance is in serviceable condition.  We captured 150 prisoners (including 11 commissioned officers), 5 stand of colors, a considerable quantity of camp equipage and ammunition, and several horses and mules.

Source:  O. R. Series I, Vol.28, Part I, P.355

     We can be certain beyond all doubt that the battle-flag of the 21st South Carolina captured in the battle referred to above is this same flag because of a newspaper photograph from 1927 when the flag was returned, and an article in volume 36, no 3, (March, 1928) of the Confederate Veteran Magazine which under the heading “Flags Returned to the South” records the return of five flags, including that “captured by the 9th Maine Volunteers at Morris Island, July 11, 1863, from the 21st South Carolina Volunteers”.  A copy of this article is included with the flag.  As if the descriptions were not enough, a newspaper clipping dated 1927 shows a picture of this flag over the caption “Battle color of Twenty-first South Carolina Infantry, captured on Morris Island, near Charleston”.  The original clipping is included.

     After its return the flag was given to Major John West of P. G. T. Beauregard’s staff.  He eventually gave it to his niece, Rose West Walker, who passed it to her daughter, Rose M. Lowe.  Rose attested in a notarized statement that the flag was in the possession of Sidney P. Wunsch of Houston, Texas in 1961.  Subsequently, in another affidavit, Herman Schlinder records the sale of the flag to Sidney P. Wunsch.  In 1985 the flag was acquired by noted collector Harlan Crow of Dallas/Fort Worth.  When his collection was disposed of it became part of Pennsylvania collector Ron Weaver’s collection, then to collector John Picini of Las Vegas, Nevada and from John Picini to Old South Military Antiques.

     The battle flag measures 41” on the hoist and 64” on the fly.  The unit designation was applied with four inch cloth letters to both the obverse and reverse of the central bar.  The flag is framed and ready to hang and will be delivered at no charge to any address in the lower 48 states.  

 

 

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