Historic Flags of the Texas State Library and Archives
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Silk, 55.5 X 56 inches
More Online Exhibits:
Under the Rebel Flag: Life in Texas During the Civil War
First Texas Infantry Regiment
This is a Lone Star flag inscribed with the battle honors "Seven Pines/Gaines Farm" in the blue canton. In the field, the remnants of the honors "Elthams Landing” and “Malvern Hill" can be seen. This flag is supposed to have been made by the wife and daughter of the regiment's first colonel, Louis T. Wigfall, and was presented to the 1st Texas Regiment when it was organized in the summer of 1861. The white material used for the star is dress material, and the flag has long been nicknamed “Mrs. Wigfall’s Wedding Dress.”
The regiment was created in Richmond, Virginia from 12 companies of troops who had already traveled east to join the conflict. Together with the 4th and 5th Texas Regiments, it became part of Hood’s Texas Brigade, named for its commander, General John Bell Hood. In the summer of 1862, Hood’s Brigade played a critical role in defending Richmond from the advance of George B. McClellan and his Army of the Potomac in a series of engagements known as the Peninsula Campaign or the Seven Days Battle. At Gaines Mill, a major engagement of the campaign, the Confederate troops broke McClellan’s lines and played a critical role in his decision to retreat. When the color bearer for the 1st Texas reached Federal lines, he hurled this flag over the barricades of an artillery battery, then crawled forward to reach the summit. Retrieving the flag, he waved it from the high ground to inspire the other men. The battle honors on this flag refer to four battles of the Peninsula Campaign and were added in the summer of 1862.
On September 17, 1862, the 1st Texas Regiment took part in the Battle of Antietam, which still stands as the bloodiest day in American history. The Confederate Army was retreating when the 1st Texas was ordered to counterattack in a place known simply as “the cornfield.” In the course of two hours, the regiment would lose 186 of its 226 men. This 82.3 percent casualty rate was the highest endured during the war by any unit, North or South. Nine Texas standard bearers were killed carrying this flag before it was captured by a Federal soldier, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his deed. The flag was returned to the state of Texas in 1905. Until the 1920s, it hung in the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives.