KENNESAW, Ga. (July 23, 2012) – A rare regimental flag that witnessed “some of the most savage and unimaginable fighting” during the Civil War was placed on permanent display at the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History.
The 65th Georgia Infantry flag was unveiled during a members-only ceremony at the museum this evening.
Private John Davis, who served as the 65th Georgia Infantry Regiment’s color bearer, brought home the flag following the Civil War and it remained in the Davis family for 145 years. The flag was donated to the Museum by Don Davis, Rhonda Davis Nesmith and Pete Davis.
“As an artifact, this particular flag was witness to some of the most savage and unimaginable fighting of the War Between the States,” said Dr. Richard Banz, the museum’s executive director. “As a symbol, it has become one of the most controversial flags in America’s history, holding different meanings for different people. This flag will not only serve as an important exhibition for the museum, but it will serve as the centerpiece of an ongoing dialogue about the causes and outcomes of the Civil War.”
Following the war, Northern soldiers viewed the flag as “a symbol of rebellion carried by traitors who had openly waged war against the Union,” while Southern soldiers considered the banner “a noble and heroic standard for the cause of Southern independence, a cause for which hundreds of thousands gave their lives,” Banz said.
“The Confederate flag did not remain furled for long following the Civil War,” Banz said. “A new view of the demised Confederacy was created known as the ‘lost cause.’ The flag was politicized and used by the Redeemers and Ultraconservatives of a new postwar South.
“Consequently, the flag has become synonymous with their anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigration viewpoints. However, no group was targeted more than African-Americans,” Banz added. “Hate groups and others used the Confederate flag while promoting white supremacist and segregationist agendas. To this day the Confederate flag is seen by many as a symbol of slavery and racial oppression.”
The flag, which appeared at veterans gatherings during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is the only known surviving example of an Army of Tennessee flag that has both the unit and state designations sewn onto both sides. Following its donation in February 2010, the Museum sent the flag to a West Virginia company that specializes in the restoration of historic artifacts.
By the War’s end, the flag saw action during a number of battles, including Resaca, New Hope Church/Dallas/Pickett’s Mill, Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek and Atlanta. The bloodstained flag is riddled with 41 bullet holes that it received during the Atlanta and Tennessee campaigns – a testament to the brutality of the Civil War.
“The actual war was far less romantic than many today portray it to have been,” Banz said. “It was a methodical and savage war that spread misery, death and destruction throughout the land. The Civil War scarred an entire generation resulting in close to 700,000 deaths as well as wholesale devastation to families, towns and communities.”
Museum admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for children ages 4-12 and free for children three and under. The museum is located at 2829 Cherokee Street in downtown Kennesaw.
For more information about the Great Locomotive Chase anniversary celebrations, visit southernmuseum.org/sesquicentennial/. For more information, call (770) 427-2117, visit southernmuseum.org or follow the museum at facebook.com/southernmuseum.
About The Southern Museum
A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History features collections of rare Civil War weapons, uniforms and other personal items; an exciting exhibit about the Great Locomotive Chase, including the General locomotive; and a full-scale replica of a locomotive factory that helped rebuild the South after the war. The Jolley Education Center features a variety of hands-on exhibits to inspire a love of learning in children. During the sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Southern Museum will be hosting numerous events that will explore topics relevant to this tumultuous time in history. Visit the Museum’s calendar of events at southernmuseum.org for a list of activities and events.
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 4-12, and free for children three and under.