FLAGS OF THE 28TH ALABAMA INFANTRY REGIMENT
The 28th had a regimental flag and a battle flag that was carried with them at all times.The battle flag was made of two pieces of silk sewn back to back. One side was a light texture and the other was of a much heavier texture. The flag is six feet and four inches by three feet and seven inches.It is decorated with a heavy one and a half inch gold fringe.. On one side, on a field of white, there is a painted blue cross, and around it , thirteen five pointed gold stars, twelve small stars and one large star. The reverse side of the flag is also on solid white silk with a star burst design pained in gold in the center of the field. Above the star burst, in bold letters, is inscribed "ALABAMA" and below the star burst "28TH REGT.".
The regimental flag was known as the "Cotton Stalk Flag". It was made by Mrs. Sumter Lea and friends from Marion, from the French silks of her wedding dress It was designed and painted by Nicola Marschall, who also designed the Confederate Battle Flag.
Nicola Marschall was referred to as the Artist of the Confederacy. He was a native of Prussia and in 1859 he settled in Marion and produced many fine portraits of notable Alabamians.The battle flag was captured during the Battle of Orchard Knob on November 23, 1863 by Cpl. G. A. Kramer of Co.I, 41st Ohio Regiment. The details of the capture are in the Official Records. The regimental flag was saved by Chaplain Graham, who wrapped the flag around his body and slipped away. The flag was displayed by Graham at a Confederate soldiers convention in 1908 and has not been seen since.
The following account of the return of the flag of the 28th Alabama Regiment comes from John T. Edmond, of Campbell, Tex., who served with Company D, of that regiment, as taken from the newspaper report from Montgomery September 9, 1905:
"The flag of the 28th Regiment, C.S.A., has come back from the National Museum by grace of Mrs. George Dewey, wife of Admiral Dewey, and the widow of the late Gen. W. B. Hazen, U.S.A. It was captured November 23, 1863, at Bald Knob, near Chattanooga, after a fight that depleted the command and give it the same glory that fell to the famous Light Brigade. Union and Confederate alike tell of the glorious fight it made when under the impression that it had been ordered to hold the position taken at all hazards. Some of the best men of Alabama were on its rolls, and many of them never came back to tell of its glories.
"The regiment was organized at Shelby SpringsMarch 29, 1862, 'for three years, or the war.' It went out under Col. J. W. Frazer, who soon resigned the command to Col. John C. Reid, who led it in all its death-dealing and death-receiving raids upon the enemy. Colonel Reid died ten years ago in Selma , an honored civilian as he had been a revered soldier. There were in the command two companies from Perry, one from Blount and Marshall, one from Walekr, and three from Jefferson. The adjutant of the regiment was the beloved Sumter Lea, blind now, though a successful lawyer of Birmingham.
"The Jefferson County companies were under command, from time to time, of William M. Nabers, John C. Morrow, G. W. Hewitt, J. T. Tarrant, W. M. Hawkins, W. R. McAdory, and W. A. McCloud. One of the Walker companies was commanded by the late Judge F. A. Gamble. In his history of Alabama Brewer says: 'The regiment was hotly engaged at Chickamauga and lost largely in killed and wounded.
At Stone Mountain the regiment was nearly surrounded by the enemy and fought desperately, losing one hundred and seventy-two killed, wounded, and captured.
"Among the distinguished minor officers of the command was the late Judge P. G. Wood, who died while in London three years ago as a delegate from the Methodist Church in Alabama to the Ecumenicl Conference. Prof. I. W. McAdory recently visited the scene of the battle, where there is a slab marking the spot of the githt, which they thought was to be held at all hazards."
This letter was sent to Dr. Thomas M. Owen, State Historian of Alabama, by Gen. C. Irvine Walker, whowas then Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia Department, U.C.V. It was dated Charleston, S.C., September 5, 1905:
"I noticed through the press that the battle flag of the 28th Alabama Regiment, captured at Orchard Knob in the battle of Missionary Ridge, was about to be returned to the State of Alabama. I would be remiss in my duty to my old comrades of the 28th Alabama Regiment did I not advise you, the State Historian, and through you all the good people of Alabama, of the magnificent bearing of the regiment on the occasion of the capture, so the record could be preserved. It is a high privilege to bear witness, as I truthfully can, to their splendid gallantry and devotion in that fight.
"The 28th Alabama Regiment was in Manigault's Brigade, of which I was then adjutant general and as such in a position to know whereof I speak. I cannot say that I remember that their flag was ever captured, but I do know that the conduct of the regiment was such that its capture reflects not the slightest discredit on the brave men who fought under its folds.
"This regiment was on the picket line of the brigade on Orchard Knob in front of the brigade's position at Missionary Ridge. Orchard Knob was held by only a picket line. The whole plain around Chattanooga was oopen, and the Federal advance could be at once seen, and when made every Confederate sprang promptly to arms. Col. John C. Reid, commanding the 28th Alabama Regiment, always said that he had received orders to hold his position 'at all hazards,' as the brigade would move out and the githt be made on that line. This was a misunderstanding, most unfortunately. How it came about I have never been able to ascertain. But Colonel Reid certainly believed that the 28th Alabama Regiment was ordered 'to hold the position at all hazards,' and it did so with the most distinguished gallantry. The position was attacked by overpowering numbers, but our men firmly held the position. There happened what rarely cme under my knowledege: the Confederates and Yankees actually gought at the bayonet point across the breastworks. The regiment held its position until the troops on either flank had been driven off and until it was almost completely surrounded. It was then withdrawn, very properly, only after a most heroic resistance and it became evident to Colonel Reid that the brigade was not coming up to make the fight on that line. "I have never know men to act with more distinguished bravery. I have not the figures before me, but my recollection is that they did not withdraw until over half of their number had been killed, wounded, or captured. "The attack on Orchard Knob, it will be remembered, was the opening of the battles around Chattanooga.
"It gives me great plesure to bear witness to the gallantry of my comrades of the 28th Alabama Regiment. I trust that you will place this testimony with the returned battle flag, so that all succeeding generations may know of the grand heroism displayed by the regiment whose ensign it was, not only on that occasion, but on every battle field from Murfreesboro, 1862, until Nashville, 1864."
HEADQUARTERS 2nd. BRIG., 3rd. DIV., 4TH CORPS,
In Camp near Knoxville, Tenn., December 10, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to orders, I have the honor to report as follows of the operations of my brigade, commencing with moving from camp at Chattanooga, November 23, resulting in the rout of the enemy on Missionary Ridge, and ending with our arrival at this point December 7:
At 12 m., November 23, I received orders to form my brigade near Fort Wood and hold it in readiness to move in the direction of Mission Ridge (southeasterly), with the remainder of the division, on a reconnaissance.
The position assigned me was on the right of the front line. The brigade was formed in five battalions as follows: First Battalion, Col. Aquila Wiley, Forty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, commanding, was composed of the Forty-first Ohio, Lieut. Col. R. L. Kimberly, and Ninety-third Ohio, Maj. William Birch. Second Battalion, Col. W. W. Berry, Fifth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, commanding, of the Fifth Kentucky Volunteers, Lieut. Col. J. L. Treanor, and Sixth Kentucky Volunteers, Maj. R. T. Whitaker. Third Battalion, Lieut. Col. B. Langdon, First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, commanding, of the First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Maj. J. A. Stafford, and Twenty-third Kentucky Volunteers, Lieut. Col. James C. Foy. Fourth Battalion, Lieut. Col. James Pickands, One hundred and twenty-fourth Ohio Volunteers, commanding, of the One hundred and twenty-fourth Ohio, Maj. J. B. Hampson, and Sixth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Maj. C. D. Campbell, Fifth Battalion, Sixth Ohio, Lieut. Col. A. C. Christopher commanding; in all 2,256 effective officers and men.
The First and Third Battalions were deployed in the front line and the Fourth and Fifth were formed in double column in the second line. The Second Battalion was on picket and in position to be used as skirmishers. The entire battalion was deployed as such, and at the sound of the bugle at 2 p.m. the entire brigade moved forward in exact order, and in two minutes the skirmish line was sharply engaged with that of the enemy, which gave ground after firing their pieces, and no considerable opposition was felt after, until we reached their first line of rifle-pits, about one-half mile to the rear of their picket line, where the pickets and their reserves endeavored to check our advance, but pushing the First Battalion, that being immediately in front of their principal force, the work, situated on a rocky hill, was carried in the most handsome manner, capturing nearly the entire regiment holding it, the Twenty-eighth Alabama Infantry, with their colors.
It was not accomplished, however, without serious cost to the Forty-first and Ninety-third Ohio Regiments. Major Birch, leading the latter, fell here, also 11 of his men killed and 48 wounded. The Forty-first Ohio lost 11 men killed and 52 wounded. Colonel Wiley and Lieutenant-Colonel Kimberly, of the same regiment, each had horses killed under them, and Colonel Berry, commanding the skirmishers, was twice struck. This position was actually carried at the point of the bayonet, the enemy being captured behind their work by the men leaping over it. During the last half mile of this advance my right was entirely exposed, and suffered severely from an enfilading fire of the enemy. The night of the 23d was employed in strengthening our position by works, and the 24th was passed without engaging the enemy.
At about 11 a.m. on the 25th, I was ordered to advance my skirmish line sufficiently to develop the enemy's strength behind his main line of breastworks at the foot of Mission Ridge and about one-half mile in our front. This was handsomely done, under the immediate command of Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher, Sixth Ohio Infantry. In this advance Maj. S.C. Erwin, Sixth Ohio, was killed by a shell, and 8 or 10 others killed and wounded. At about 3 p.m. this day I received orders to move forward with the remainder of the division and take possession of the enemy's works at the foot of Mission Ridge, taking cover behind them, and there to await further orders.
The One hundred and twenty-fourth Ohio was on picket and used as skirmishers. The other formations of battalions were similar to that on the 23d instant, the Sixth Kentucky reporting to Colonel Christopher and acting with the Fifth Battalion, and the Sixth Indiana Volunteers acting with the Second. Both lines were deployed, the Third and Fifth forming the first, and the First and Second the second line.
At the signal the brigade moved forward, and' simultaneously a fire from at least fifty pieces of artillery from the crest of Mission Ridge was poured upon us. We moved in good order at a rapid step, under this appalling fire, to the enemy's works, which were situated about 300 yards before and toward Chattanooga from the crest of the ridge, the enemy fleeing from these works at our approach.
The command, on reaching these works at the foot of the hill, covered itself, as ordered, on the reverse side of them as best it could, but very imperfectly, being so near and so much below the crest of the ridge. The musketry fire from the crest was now telling severely upon us, and the crest presenting its concavity toward us we were completely enfiladed by artillery from both flanks. The position was a singular one, and can only be well understood by those who occupied it.
The command had executed its orders, and to remain there till new ones could be sent would be destruction; to fall back would not only be so, but would entail disgrace. On commencing the advance, the thought of storming Mission Ridge had not entered the mind of any one, but now the necessity was apparent to every soldier of the command.
Giving the men about five minutes to breathe, and receiving no orders, I gave the word forward, which was eagerly obeyed. The forces of General Willich on my left had commenced the movement somewhat in my advance, and those of Major-General Sheridan, on my right, were a considerable distance in my rear. There was in my front the troops of General Breckinridge, forming the left of the enemy's center.
Not much regard to lines could be observed, but the strong men, commanders and color bearers, took the lead in each case, forming the apex of a triangular column of men. These advanced slowly but confidently, no amount of fire from the crest checking.them. Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon, of the First Ohio, gaining a position where the conformation of the hill gave cover till within 3 yards of the crest, formed several hundred men there, checking the head for that purpose, then giving the command, the column broke over the crest, the enemy fleeing. These were the first on the hill, and my command moving up with a shout their entire front was handsomely carried. The troops on my immediate left were still held in check, and those on my right not more than half way up the hill, and were being successfully held back. Hastening my men to the right and left along the ridge, I was enabled to take the enemy in flank and reverse, and, by vigorously using the artillery captured there, I soon relieved my neighbors and carried the crest to within a few hundred yards of Bragg's headquarters, he himself escaping by flight, being at one time near my right encouraging the troops that had checked Sheridan's left. The heroism of the entire command in this engagement merits the highest praise of the country.
Col. Aquila Wiley, Forty-first Ohio Volunteers, commanding the First Battalion, was shot through the leg, making amputation necessary. The loss to the service of this officer cannot be properly estimated. He was always prompt and thorough, and possessed capacity and knowledge of his duties that never left him at fault. I know no officer of equal efficiency in the volunteer service, and none whose past services entitle them to better reward. The services and losses of his battalion, composed of the Forty-first and Ninety-third Ohio Infantry, also stand conspicuous. Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon, First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, commanding Third Battalion, was shot through the face just as he had reached the crest of the hill, and after lying prostrate from the wound again moved forward, cheering his men. The services of this officer in gaining the crest should be rewarded by promotion to the grade of brigadier-general. He has previously commanded a brigade with efficiency. Colonel Berry, Fifth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, was again wounded just as he had reached the crest at the head of his battalion, being the third received in these operations. He, however, did not leave the field. A like promotion in his case would be not only fitting but beneficial to the service.
On the fall of Colonel Wiley, Lieutenant-Colonel Kimberly, Forty-first Ohio, assumed command through the remainder of the fight with his usual rare ability. Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher, Sixth Ohio Infantry, and Lieutenant-Colonel Pickands, One hundred and twenty-fourth Ohio, commanding battalions, rendered valuable and meritorious service. I have also to mention
Corpl. G. A. Kraemer, Company I, Forty-first Ohio, for his gallantry in turning upon the enemy the first gun on the ridge, which he discharged by firing his musket over the vent. The same man alone ordered and received the surrender of 20 men with the colors of the Twenty-eighth Alabama on the 23d instant.
Sergt. D. L. Sutphin, Company D, Ninety-third Ohio, on reaching the crest, captured a stand of colors in the hands of its bearer.
Corporal Angelbeck, Company I, Forty-first Ohio, seeing a caisson filled with ammunition already on fire with 2 wounded horses attached to it, cut them loose and ran the burning carriage down the hill before it exploded.
The colors of the First Ohio Infantry, the first on the hill, were carried at different times by the following persons:
Corpl. John Emery, Company I, wounded
Corpl. William W. McLaughlin, Company I, killed
Capt. Nicholas Trapp, wounded
Corpl. Frederick Zimmerman
The foregoing are but a few of the many instances of heroism displayed on this occasion. Maj. William Birch, Ninety-third Ohio, and Maj. S. C. Erwin, Sixth Ohio Infantry, who fell while leading their men, were soldiers of rare efficiency, and their loss will be severely felt by the service and lamented by their friends. My entire staff, as has always been the case in the numerous battles in which they have been engaged, conducted themselves with the greatest bravery and usefulness. In summing up the operations of the 23d and 25th, I have to report the capture of 382 prisoners, beside a large number of wounded, of 2 stand of colors, of 18 pieces of artillery, with their appendages, 650 stand of small-arms, a considerable quantity of clothing, camp and garrison equipage, and several loaded wagons. Forty-nine of the enemy, including 1 colonel, were buried by my parties.
On the morning of the 28th, we took up the march for this place, which was reached the evening of the 7th instant.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. B. HAZEN, Brigadier-General. ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Third Division, Fourth Corps.