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Old South Military Antiques

Battle Flag Captured at the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Item #: OS-6292

Few Confederate 1st National flags have a specific history, and fewer still had their specific battlefield service recorded by the participants themselves, but the flag shown here has that distinction. The captor, James Allison, Company E, 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry specifically recorded in 1900 the history of its capture.

The History of Adams County, Ohio - by Nelson W. Evans and Emmons B. Stivers of West Union, Ohio was published in 1900. It is clear from reading it that the authors personally knew Mr. Allison well and that they got their information from him first hand. It is also clear from reading it that they were familiar with Mr. Allison’s trophy. I quote:

"JAMES ALLISON, of Seaman, Adams County, Ohio, is one of the most progressive and successful farmers of Scott Township. He is a man whose excellent judgment, strong common sense and good business qualities are recognized by all. He comes of an old and prominent Pennsylvania family, and was born in that State on the second of October, 1831. His father, David Allison, as well as his mother, whose maiden name was Lucette Andre McKibben, were natives of Pennsylvania. They reared eight children, five sons and three daughters, of whom our subject was the third. David Allison was a farmer all his life and lived to a ripe old age.

James Allison received his early education in the district school in the primitive school building at Cedar Springs, Clinton County, Pennsylvania. He early turned his attention to farming which he had determined should be his life work, and ever since, he has been active and energetic in this occupation, except two years in which he was engaged in the mercantile business.

On October 14, 1861, he enlisted in Company E, Seventh Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, as a Private, and was afterwards promoted Second Sergeant of his company, and in May, 1862, was promoted to First Lieutenant. He served in the battles of Lebanon, Tennessee, and of Stones River, at Murfreesboro. In the latter battle in the 7th Pennsylvania cavalry, his horse fell and disabled him so he was sent to the hospital, and while there, were stricken with typhoid pneumonia, and as a consequence, was discharged for disability, May 3, 1863. In one of the charges made by his regiment there was captured a Confederate flag, which Mr. Allison obtained and keeps as a trophy.

He has always been a Republican in his political views, but has never sought or held any office, either in township or county. He is an earnest thinker, however, on political questions, a strong advocate of advanced political thought, and is alive to the interests and welfare of his county and community.

On the twenty-eighth of November, 1865, he was married to Miss Sarah E. McDowell, of Centre County, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Allison is a woman of many fine qualities and ably performs her duties as wife and mother. She is an earnest, consistent, Christian woman, and a faithful worker in the Presbyterian Church of Seaman. She was born in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, January 19, 1845, the second daughter of P. W. and Kathrene McDowell, the latter of whom died November 5, 1897, at the age of seventy-eight. Her father is living and well at the age of eighty-two, is active and energetic, an old-fashioned Jacksonian Democrat and one of Central Pennsylvania's most substantial citizens.

Mr. and Mrs. Allison resided in Pennsylvania for three years after their marriage, and then removed to Adams County in 1869, where he purchased a farm on the West Fork of Brush Creek in Scott Township, which is the very best in the township. It is bountifully supplied with running water and everything about the place indicates that the owner is a man of enterprise and progress. They lived on this farm from 1869 until 1896, when they purchased a home in the village of Seaman, which they remodeled and beautified and reside there in great comfort. Mr. Allison owns another farm of one hundred and eighty acres in Oliver Township. Their children are Kate Conley, wife of Dr. John S. Montgomery, of Huntsville, Logan County, Ohio; David M., who is in the hardware and implement business at Seaman, a very industrious and energetic young man; Nettie Andre, wife of Oscar McCreight. They reside on the home farm. Mrs. Montgomery has two sons, Willard Allison, and John McDowell.

Mr. Allison is highly esteemed in the community and is honored and respected by all.”

From the above we know several things with certainty; we know that the flag was captured during the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; that the flag was taken in one of the cavalry charges made by his regiment, i.e. in battle; that the flag was taken as a trophy by Private Allison, and last that it was still in his possession at the turn of the century.

Since I knew so much about the flag’s history, I thought that I might be able to figure out exactly who it was captured from. Fortunately Dennis W. Belcher’s "The Cavalries at Stones River, An Analytical History" has just been published. It is an account of the cavalries at Stones River in minute detail. It shows clearly that the 7th PA was serving in the backwater guarding baggage and stopping stragglers, except in one instance: On December 31st, after the US had been driven for a while, the cavalries skirmished on foot, then they mounted, lined up, from left to right: 5 TN (US) 7 PA, 3 KY, under General Minty and 4 MI, 15 PA, under General Stanley. They faced (from left to right) under Gen. Wheeler, the 1 AL, 3 Al, 51 AL, 8 Confederate, McCann's Detachment, with the 1 TN Douglass’ Battalion and 2 KY (CS) in the reserve line / protecting the battery. The US charged and routed the Confederates. Stanley made one charge, Minty and the 7th made two, (note that in Allison's history published in 1900 it specified the flag was captured in "one of the charges made by his regiment"-plural. These are the only charges made by the 7th Pa in the entire campaign prior to Private Allison’s departure)

US General Minty and Stanley led the US cavalry. Stanley told Minty; "you look after those fellows in the front and I will take care of this force," pointing to a group on the western flank.

They were lined up like this:

Stanley Minty

15 PA 4 MI 3KY, 7PA 5 TN(US)

vs vs vs

1AL, 3 AL 51 AL 8 CS McCanns

1st TN, Douglas' Btn. Wiggins Bty, Holeman's& 2 KY Btn

N.W. Sample of the 15th Pa wrote, "We got prisoners and the battle flags"-plural. One other flag from this charge is known; this one has just recently come to light. We know that Allison was disabled in this charge by his horse falling; so serious was it that he was sent to the hospital and was never able to return. He could not have acquired the flag from any charge later than these two, (nor did his regiment engage in another) so it must have gone the hospital with him. Perhaps it was sent with him as a consolation for his injuries. From the above wealth of information I suspect that if one were to take the time to read all the published material by members of the few possible Confederate units that this flag could have been taken from, its ownership could be positively identified. For the present we can only be certain that it came from one of General Wheeler’s regiments, most likely the 51st Alabama, 8th Confederate or McCann’s Confederate Cavalry. There is some possibility, but very unlikely that it came from Wiggins Battery, Holeman’s or the 2nd Kentucky Battalion Cavalry.

Regardless of which, we know for certain that it served as a Confederate Battle Flag and that it was captured at the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The flag is made of silk and measures 95.5 inches on the fly by 44.5 inches on the hoist. The hoist is made of a sleeve lined in canvas. The handwritten note that was on the flag was retained by the family. It was purchased from me directly from the family of the captor. The flag has been conserved and framed in a minimalist powder coated aluminum frame behind ultra violet light filtering plexiglass. It is ready to hang.

Not for Sale