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Old South Military Antiques

31st Georgia Regimental Flag
Item #: OS-6746

The beautiful First National Regimental Battle Flag shown here was carried by the 31st Georgia Infantry. The 31st had originally been known as the 27th Regiment, until it was discovered that there was already a 27th Georgia, consequently they became the 31st Georgia Infantry. Because the flag was first painted with the 27th Regiment designation, we know that the flag was presented to the regiment in late 1861 when the 27th formed. We also know that the treasured emblem made by loving hands was carried by the regiment until it was captured in Richmond on April 4, 1865.

The 31st Infantry Regiment, at the time called the 27th Regiment, completed its organization in November, 1861, at Cusseta, Georgia. Its companies were from the counties of Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Monroe, Bartow, Pulaski, Dawson, and Newton. After serving in Savannah it was ordered to Virginia and placed consecutively in Lawton's, John B. Gordon's, and C.A. Evans' Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. The 31st participated in various conflicts from the Seven Days' Battles to Cold Harbor and Petersburg. It contained 1,200 men when organized, and reported 170 casualties at Gaines Mill, 55 at Sharpsburg, 78 at Fredericksburg, and 23 at Chancellorsville.

After Chancellorsville, General John B. Gordon led his Georgia Brigade in the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania. His Brigade occupied Wrightsville, Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna River, which was the farthest eastern point in Pennsylvania reached by any organized Confederate troops during the campaign.

On July 1, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Gordon's Brigade clashed with the Federal XI Corps on Barlow's Knoll. The 31st Georgia lost more than 25% of the 252 engaged at the Battle of Gettysburg. During the Battle, Colonel Evans assumed command of the Regiment while General Gordon took command of the Division. A monument to their valor stands on East Confederate Avenue on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Evans also assumed command of the Brigade in 1864 during the fighting in the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, while Gordon again commanded the Division. Colonel Evans was finally promoted to Brigadier General in May of 1864 and assumed permanent command of the Brigade. General Gordon assumed permanent command of the Division.

During the Battle of Spotsylvania in May of 1864, Gordon's troops, after desperate fighting under Lee’s immediate eye, succeeded in turning back the massive Federal assault at the "Bloody Angle", which prevented a Confederate rout. In June of 1864, Evans led the Georgia Brigade during the fight at Cold Harbor. Following the victory, General Evans' Brigade was again attached to General Jubal A. Early's Division just in time for the Valley Campaign. Evans was wounded during the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864. Following his recovery, he commanded John Brown Gordon's Division during the Siege of Petersburg through the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

The men, having been in the Shenandoah Valley since June 1864, was ordered to rejoin Lee at the Siege of Petersburg on December 9, 1864. After moving to Richmond and Petersburg over the next several days, they served in the trenches and remained with Lee’s army through Appomattox.

Richmond was evacuated on April 3, 1865. The following morning on April 4, 1865, Federal Captain Silas Adams, then commanding the 41st USCT entered the city. He writes of the event: "On our first entry into the city, many straggling soldiers from the Confederate army were captured. They had evidently concealed themselves till their own troops were entirely clear of the city & our troops had taken possession. One soldier had the flag of the 27th & 31stGeo. Regts- which was surrendered to me, and it now remains in my possession.” Later he writes "the city arms house was also fired and the explosion cleaned the arms house off of the face of the earth with nearly 100 inmates and hardly a relic left of the many occupants. It was a most inhumane act. Early in the morning I got the flag of the 27th& 31st Georgia Regts (consolidated), it being the last rebel flag to float in Richmond. Gen Wild allowed me to retain it.”

Little did Captain Adams realize that he had captured the colours of one of the hardest fought and most reliable regiments in the Army of Northern Virginia, who’s colours had flown over nearly every battle that the famed Army of Northern Virginia had fought.

The cotton flag of the 31stGeorgia measures 62 inches on the hoist and 77 on the fly (originally 84). Though there is some loss on the edges, the remaining flag is very solid and colorful. It has been conserved and framed by Textile Preservation Associates of Keedysville, Maryland. When the flag was made, the 27th regimental designation was painted onto the flag, and later the 31st was painted onto a swatch of cloth and sewn over the 27th designation. After the War it was removed by its captor and the 27th discovered underneath.

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