A Hard Fate

City Hall, April 28, 1862.
To Flag-Officer D. G. Farragut, U. S. Flag-Ship Hartford:

Your communication of this morning is the first intimation I ever had that it was by your strict orders that the United States flag was attempted to be hoisted upon certain of our public edifices by officers sent or there to communicate with the authorities. The officers who approached me in your name disclosed no such orders and intimated no such design on your part, not would I have for a moment entertained the remotest suspicion that they could have been invested with power to enter such an errand while the negotiations for a surrender between you and the city authorities were pending. The interference of any force under your command, as long as those negotiations were not brought to a close, could not be viewed by us otherwise than as a flagrant violation of those courtesies, if not of the absolute rights, which prevail between belligerents under such circumstances. My views and sentiments with reference to such conduct remain unchanged. You now review the demands made in your former communication, and you insist on their being complied with unconditionally, under a threat of bombardment within forty-eight hours; and you notify me to remove the women and children from the city that they may be protected from your shells.

Sir, you can but know that there is no possible exit from this city for a population which still exceeds in number one hundred and forty thousand, and you must therefore be aware of the utter inanity of such a notification. Our women and children cannot escape from your shells, if it be your pleasure to murder them on a question of etiquette. But if they could, there are few among them who would consent to desert their families and their homes, and the graves of their relatives in so awful a moment. They would bravely stand the sight of your shells tearing up the graves of those who are so dear to them, and would deem that they died not ingloriously by the side of the tombs erected by their piety to the memory of departed relatives.

You are not satisfied with the peaceful possession of an undefended city, opposing no resistance to your guns, because of its bearing its hard fate with something of manliness and dignity, and you wish to humble and disgrace us by the performance of an act against which our nature rebels. This satisfaction you cannot expect to obtain at our hands.

We will stand your bombardment, unarmed and undefended as we are. The civilized world will consign to indelible infamy the heart that will conceive the dead and the hand that will dare to consummate it.

Respectfully,
John T. Monroe,
Mayor of New Orleans.

I Don’t Want to Hurrah

Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, C.S.A.
Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, C.S.A.

I never could quite enjoy being a “Conquering Hero.” No, my dear, there is something radically wrong about my Hurrahism. I can fight for a cause I know to be just, can risk my own life and the lives of those in my keeping without a thought of the consequences; but when we’ve conquered, when we’ve downed the enemy and won the victory, I don’t want to hurrah. I want to go off all by myself and be sorry for them—want to lie down in the grass, away off in the woods somewhere or in some lone valley on the hillside far from all human sound, and rest my soul and put my heart to sleep and get back something—I don’t know what—but something I had that is gone from me—something subtle and unexplainable—something I never knew I had till I had lost it—till it was gone—gone – gone!

Yesterday my men were marching victoriously through the little town of Greencastle, the bands all playing our glorious, soul inspiring, southern airs: “The Bonny Blue Flag,” “My Maryland,” “Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still,” and the soldiers all happy, hopeful, joyously keeping time to the music, many following it with their voices and making up for the want of the welcome they were not receiving in the enemy’s country by cheering themselves and giving themselves a welcome. As Floweree’s band, playing “Dixie,” was passing a vine-bowered home, a young girl rushed out on the porch and waved a United States flag. Then, either fearing that it might be taken from her or finding it too large and unwieldy, she fastened it around her as an apron, and taking hold of it on each side and waving it in defiance, called out with all the strength of her girlish voice and all the courage of her brave young heart:

“Traitors—traitors—traitors, come and take this flag, the man of you who dares!”

Knowing that many of my men were from a section of the country which had been within the enemy’s lines, and fearing lest some might forget their manhood, I took off my hat and bowed to her, saluted her flag and then turned, facing the men who felt and saw my unspoken order. And don’t you know that they were all Virginians and didn’t forget it, and that almost every man lifted his cap and cheered the little maiden who, though she kept on waving her flag, ceased calling us traitors, till letting it drop in front of her she cried out:

“Oh, I wish I wish I had a rebel flag; I’d wave that, too.”

The picture of that little girl in the vine-covered porch, beneath the purple morning glories with their closed lips and bowed heads waiting and saving their prettiness and bloom for the coming morn—of course, I thought of you, my darling. For the time, that little Greencastle Yankee girl with her beloved flag was my own little promised-to-be-wife, receiving from her Soldier and her Soldier’s soldiers the reverence and homage due her.

We left the little girl standing there with the flag gathered up in her arms, as if too sacred to be waved now that even the enemy had done it reverence.

As ever,
YOUR SOLDIER.

Greencastle, Pa., June 24, 1863.

The Heart of a Soldier: As Revealed in the Intimate Letters of Genl. George E. Pickett, C.S.A., New York: Seth Moyle, 1913.

The Glorious Little State of South Carolina

Flag of the Palmetto Guard, raised over Fort Sumter, on the parapet facing Charleston, by Private John Styles Bird, Jr., 14 April 1861. Later that day, this flag was replaced with that of the Confederate States.
Flag of the Palmetto Guard, raised over Fort Sumter, on the parapet facing Charleston, by Private John Styles Bird, Jr., 14 April 1861. Later that day, this flag was replaced with that of the Confederate States.

When the proper time had come, when I knew we were prepared, there was not a moment that I was not ready to strike the blow for my State and the independence of my country, let it lead to what it might, even if it led to blood and ruin. Thank God the day is come; thank God the war is open and we will conquer or perish. They have vauntingly arrayed their millions of men against us; they have exultingly also arrayed their navy, and they have called us but a handful of men, a weak and isolated State, full of pride and what they call chivalry, and with the hated institution of slavery, as they supposed a source of weakness, too, which in fact is a source of strength in war, and they have defied us. But we have rallied, […] we have met them and we have conquered. We have defeated their twenty millions, and we have made the proud flag of the Stars and Stripes, that never was lowered before to any nation on this earth, we have lowered it in humility before the Palmetto and the Confederate flags, and we have compelled them to raise by their side the white flags, and ask for an honorable surrender. […] We have humbled the flag of the United States. I can here say to you, it is the first time in the history of this country that the Stars and Stripes have been humbled. It has triumphed for seventy years, but today, on the thirteenth day of April, it has been humbled, and humbled before the glorious little State of South Carolina.

Speech given by Governor Pickens from the balcony of the Charleston Hotel.

By Popular Acclaim

4th VA Infantry Battle flag. Captured 12 May 1864 at Spotsylvania — Bloody Angle.

The Battle Flag.–The papers are all discussing what kind of flag the South ought to adopt as the permanent ensign of the Confederacy. It seems to be generally agreed that the “Stars and Bars” will never do for us. They resemble too closely the dishonored flag of Yankee Doodle. Should the questions remain undecided until Gen. Beauregard redeems the pledge which has given — to plant upon the stately column which towers aloft from Mount Vernon Place, in Baltimore, the battle flag given him by a lovely and exiled rebel of Maryland — we imagine that the battle flag will become the Southern flag, by popular acclaim. We are indebted to the cunning fingers of a lady friend for a small but very accurate and beautiful model of the battle flag under which our brave soldiers on the Potomac will yet march to victory. It may be seen at the Mercury office.

— Charleston Mercury, 27 January 1862, p. 2, c. 1.

Anxious for the Southern Cross

The Stars and Bars.

[Communicated]
The Confederate Flag.

We believe we speak the sentiments of three-fourths of the Southern people, when we state that the Confederate Flag has not only failed to satisfy, but has greatly disappointed them. The idea of a committee having been occupied for weeks in composing or selecting from a hundred different specimens, a flag to be at once original and striking; finally, rejecting all assistance from artists and others, who had furnished abundance of good material, and adopting, as the result of their labor, what? The Union and three stripes of Lincoln’s Abolition Flag. Mr. Russell, in one of his letters, has well styled it “the counterpart of the U. S. Flag;” and so perfectly is it so, that in a calm at sea, it is not distinguishable from it. But not only is it stolen from the U. S. Flag, it is also a theft of the coat of arms of another despotism — we mean the House of Austria, whose arms are red, with a white bar running through the centre. Nor is this all. The U. S. Flag itself was directly stolen from the British East India Company, with the poor addition of thirteen stars for distinction. Now, if the coat of arms of the Confederate States be drawn with the three bars horizontal we pilfer the arms of the House of Austria; and if we adopt the plan of the United States and draw the coat of arms with the bars perpendicular, we pilfer the arms of the town of Beauvais in France. So that, whichever way we twist, we will be laughed at by everybody and despised by those whose emblems we have borrowed, not to say stolen. We are living under a Provisional Government — may we not hope that this may be also a Provisional Flag? Our Congress is soon to meet, and we sincerely hope that this question will be brought up by some patriotic and able member, and not allowed to rest until we obtain with the permanent Government a flag fit to be retained as permanent also. We think the Southern people, generally, were anxious that the Southern Cross should have been conspicuous in their flag, which form would at once dispense with the Union part of it, and all the stripes, by simply making the flag red, with a white cross, containing on it the stars of blue, thereby retaining all the three emblems of Republicans, red, white and blue. And, in the language of one of Virginia’s bards —

The “Cross of the South” shall triumphantly wave,
As the flag of the free and the pall of the brave!

We are informed by one skilled in Heraldry, that such a flag is in rule; and if desirable to change the arrangement of colors, the ground could be blue, and the stars red — cross white in either, so as to be metal on color — an imperative requisition in correct Heraldry.

— Charleston Mercury, July 20, 1861, p. 1, c. 7.

Stiff in Southern Dust

Virginia regimental flag captured in fighting on April 2, 1865, by Captain William Van Ormer of the 53rd Pennsylvania.

[…]

I hates the Constitution, this great Republic, too;
I hates the Freedmen’s Bureau, in uniforms blue.
I hates the nasty eagle, with all his brags and fuss;
The lyin’, thievin’ Yankees, I hates ’em wuss and wuss.

I hates the Yankee nation, and everything they do;
I hates the Declaration of Independence, too;
I hates the glorious Union, ’tis dripping with our blood;
And I hates their striped banner — I fit it all I could.

[…]

Three hundred thousand Yankees is stiff in southern dust.
We got three hundred thousand before they conquered us.
They died of southern fever and southern steel and shot;
I wish there were three million instead of what we got.

— Oh, I’m a Good Ol’ Rebel.