4th Texas Battle Flag

There's a Battle flag in Texas, that everyone should see

Our 4th Texas carry a version of the "Southern Cross" Battle Flag which bears red stars on a white field, within a red outline of St. Andrew's cross. It is splendid, but ...

The history of the battle flags of both the fourth and fifth Texas infantry regiments is somewhat different. These flags were made of silk by Misses Fannie and Louise Wigfall, daughters of the first commander of the Texas brigade, Brigadier General Louis T Wigfall, from their Mother's wedding dress. The two flags were made to A.N.V. early specifications in standard colours. Whilst the Texas brigade wintered at Dumfries, Virginia, the flag was presented to the fourth Texas in January 1862, and presumable the fifth Texas received their flag at the same time, or thereabouts. It seems that the flags were made in Virginia, and the red dye of the flag faded quickly.

The fifth Texas flag was "retired with honour" at the end of 1862, last seeing action during the Seven Days Battles. By a subterfuge, the fifth Texas fought in 1863 under the Texas state flag (with General John B Hood's "approval") until that flag wore out and was replaced by an "official" issue Southern Cross cotton bunting issue.

The fourth Texas flag also had a short life. By October 1862 it had had severe damage in battle at Sharpsburg. It was "retired with honour" to Texas in late 1862. From 1865 to 1871 it was hidden in the bank of Barton's Creek (buried) so as to hide it from occupation troops. When it was safe to do so, it was exhumed and thereafter was frequently seen at fourth Texas reunions, U.C.V. camps, etc.

Physically, the flag measures 4 x 4 feet, approximately. In 1862, a count of battle damage revealed a total of 65 bullet holes and three shell fragment tears. The flag rests in the care of the United Daughters of the Confederacy - Texas division and is in need of funds for preservation.

Although the Texans in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia were, and are, commonly called "Hood's Texas Brigade", in point of fact General John Bell Hood only commanded the brigade for a short time in his meteoric rise to higher command. There never was a "Hood's Texas Division" although the Texas brigade was part of the division commanded by Hood until after Chickamauga. Non-Texan units (e.g. 13th Georgia) filled up the ranks of the, granted, predominantly Texan brigade.

The rub to this story, is, however, as given by Alan K Sumrall in his book "Battle Flags of Texans in the Confederacy" (ISBN 0-89015-983-1, Eakin Press), that:

Due to a misrepresentation on a painting, one Publication has depicted it having a white field with red outlines of the St. Andrew's Cross and red stars on a white cross. This is erroneous. (op.cit., page 16)

As many of the "damned red flags of the rebellion" did not survive, being destroyed to prevent capture, hidden and lost, etc. it is good to think that some, at least, did so. That it is not forlorn but is a tribute to courage shown by those who rallied to it is also obvious. It is sincerely hoped that the custodians will be able to raise funds for its preservation on into the millennium so soon to be upon us.

R J Page, 2nd South Carolina

The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, April 1999