Mystery Solved?

Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 10:00am
Mystery Solved?

The Missouri State Museum would like to thank all of you who reached out to us to help solve this mystery. With the public’s help, museum staff is now 99% sure that the flag is from the 9th Alabama Infantry Company A from Mobile County, Alabama. We're only 99% sure because, without direct documentation from intake to today, it’s hard to know with any true certainty; we therefore leave the window open for future debate and discoveries.

Here is how the museum arrived at the identification of the 9th Alabama Infantry Company A. First, our initial hunch that the flag originated in Lynchburg, Virginia was dispelled by staff at the Lynchburg Museum System. They did all the leg work in order to prove or disprove our theory and the Missouri State Museum (MSM) staff is very thankful for their assistance. 

Next, a researcher pointed out a newspaper article from the Alton, Illinois Telegraph dated September 26, 1862 which states: “Washington, Sept. 22- a reconnaissance party under command of Major Deems, of Siegel’s staff, was pushed beyond Chantilly yesterday.  36 stragglers were taken prisoner and paroled.  A quantity of rebel knapsacks and camp equippage and a large silk rebel flag, belonging to Beauregard’s Rifles also captured…”

That newspaper notice was the first indication of a potential connection between a Beauregard Rifles flag and General Franz Siegel, who formerly led the 3rd Missouri Infantry at Wilson’s Creek prior to going east. This newspaper article proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle, making clear to our staff a prior research find.

While researching for the MSM sesquicentennial Civil War exhibit, a staff member found a letter from Franz Siegel to Missouri Governor Fletcher dated June 18, 1866. In the letter Siegel states after he went east he had been presented with a (US National colors) flag, which in turn he intended to send to the 3rd Missouri as a replacement for their flag captured at Wilson’s Creek. Siegel’s letter goes onto state that “I will send you the flag [US National colors] by Express, also a Rebel flag, taken in one of the skirmishes with the enemy…”. Prior to the discovery of the Alton, Illinois newspaper article there was nothing to connect the “rebel flag” mentioned in Siegel’s letter to the Beauregard Rifles flag in the museum’s collection. In fact, while the US National colors meant for the 3rd Missouri Infantry had obviously arrived and is in the collection, it was unclear if the mentioned “rebel flag” had ever arrived or remained in the collection. Siegel’s letter made much more sense after reading the newspaper article.

Further research revealed that the Beauregard Rifles at Chantilly, Virginia that day was likely the 9th Alabama Infantry Company A from Mobile County, Alabama who had men and their flag captured during that campaign.

It’s Your History!