Historic Flags of the Texas State Library and Archives
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Wool, silk, and cotton,
38 x 46 inches (flag)
4 x 57 inches (streamer)
More Online Exhibits:
Under the Rebel Flag: Life in Texas During the Civil War
Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment
This flag was made for the 5th Texas Regiment by Maude Young, a Houston botanist and school principal whose son had enlisted in the Texas Brigade. The flag was emblazoned with the regiment’s name and the Latin motto Vivere Sat Vincere, or “To conquer is to live enough.” It was presented to the regiment in June 1862, and served as the regimental colors two weeks later at the Battle of Gaines Mill. The flag was sent away to be decorated with battle honors after the Peninsula Campaign, and the regiment carried their earlier Lone Star flag (TSLAC 306-4042) at Second Manassas and Antietam. After that flag was sent back to Texas for display, the regiment chose to use Mrs. Young’s flag through the rest of the war. As part of Hood’s Texas Brigade, the regiment fought at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.
At the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, the 5th Texas was at the heart of a famous incident in which General Robert E. Lee, facing the possibility of defeat in the battle, took up a position near this flag and shouted “Hurrah for Texas!” and “Texans always move them!” When the troops realized that Lee intended to spur his horse to the front to personally lead the counterattack, some two dozen Texans physically prevented Lee from taking the risk. After Lee was out of harm’s way, the inspired Texans charged and broke the Union lines, turning the tide of the battle.
In October 1864, the 5th Texas was all but annihilated at the Battle of Darbytown. Three officers who returned home to Texas to seek new recruits took the battered flag to Houston and returned it to Maude Young, who raised $30,000 ($413,000 in current dollars) to build a hospital in Richmond to treat wounded Texans. Her son, Dr. S.O. Young, survived the war. By the 1920s the flag was in the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives.