(Kennesaw, GA) — Kennesaw officials and staff members of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History gathered on Thursday, February 18 to accept a donation of a rare regimental flag issued to the 65th Georgia Infantry during the Civil War. The flag is being donated by the Davis family of Alabama.
The flag, tattered with 41 different bullet holes and still bloodstained, is in relatively good condition considering it saw much action during the Civil War, including the entire Atlanta campaign. “Technically, the flag has been in the vicinity of our Museum before,” said Mike Bearrow, curator at the Museum. “From here, the flag ended up being issued to the 65th Georgia Infantry Regiment up in Dalton, where it then went through the Atlanta campaign and up into Tennessee.” The flag was carried into the heat of several battles, including the Battles of Resaca, New Hope Church/Dallas/Pickett's Mill, Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek and Atlanta. It's the only known surviving example of an Army of Tennessee flag that has both the unit and state designations sewn onto both sides.
“My great-great-grandfather was at Big Shanty,” said Don Davis, donator of the flag along with his brother and sister. “He was the third to carry this flag when his regiment moved into Tennessee.” The ancestor, Private John Davis, served as a color bearer of the 65th Georgia — after years of the flag being in battle throughout Georgia and Tennessee, Davis was the final color bearer for the flag at the Battle of Franklin.
There is also a picture of Davis' great-great-grandfather holding the flag at a 1900 reunion of his peers in the Civil War. “It's been a part of our family for years, and it was the right time to give it to the Southern Museum,” said Davis. “It just felt right, and I'm glad to know the flag will be able to be enjoyed generations from now.”
While the flag is not currently on display at the Museum, staff members are working diligently to ensure that it will be available for public viewing as soon as possible. “We are in the process of developing a display that will showcase both sides of the flag,” explained Bearrow. “Preserving this flag for years to come is a very important mission of ours, as well.”
“This is a very proud moment for the Southern Museum,” said Jeff Drobney, executive director of the Museum. “It's a significant donation, and will surely become one of our most treasured displays, right up there with the General locomotive.”
Mark Mathews, mayor of Kennesaw, agreed. “This is a historical event!” he exclaimed. “The Southern Museum is such a vital part of the Kennesaw community, and this donation of a Confederate flag will only further their mission of providing the best programs and exhibits.”
A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the Southern Museum features collections of rare Civil War weapons, uniforms and other personal items; an exciting exhibit about The Great Locomotive Chase, including a short movie; and a full-scale replica of a locomotive factory that helped rebuild the South after the war. The Southern Museum is located 20 miles north of Atlanta, off I-75 at exit 273. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for children ages three through 12 and free children two and under.