Flag: 2nd Alabama Infantry (Co. C, Claiborne Guards)
Catalogue No. 86.3933.1
(PN10072, PN10174-10175)
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Provenance Reconstruction:

The flag of the Claiborne Guards was presented to the company on Saturday, March 23, 1861, at the Masonic Hall in Claiborne, Monroe County, Alabama, by seven young ladies, each of whom had been chosen to represent one of the seceded states. From them, Miss Henrietta Porcher Gaillard was selected to deliver the flag. Lt. E. A. Scott, professor at Columbus College in South Carolina and Springhill College in Mobile, accepted the flag. The Claiborne Guards was later designated Co. C, 2nd Alabama Infantry upon the formation of that regiment. The flag was taken by them to Ft. Morgan, Alabama, where the company remained until March 1862. The company was then ordered to Ft. Pillow, Tennessee. There the regiment disbanded and most of the men entered service with Co. A of the 42nd Alabama Infantry.

The flag was apparently returned to someone in Claiborne where it disappeared at the end of the war. The location of the flag remained a mystery until the following letter was received by the postmaster in Clairborne and subsequently printed in The Monroe Journal, January 15, 1878.

State of New York
Assembly Chamber,
Kinderhook, N. Y. December 14, 1877

Dear Sir: -When my command passed through Claiborne1, a flag belonging to an independent military organization fell into my hands. I have carefully guarded it with a view of some day returning it. It is a silk flag, stars and bars, upon one side is painted these words: "Claiborne Guards, 1861." On the other: "Citizen soldier, the Shield of Freedom."

As a relic, it would be valuable to those of that organization who are now alive, and I would like very much to present it to them as a New Years gift, and I would like to have a history in brief of the organization and its surviving members.

If you know of anyone authorized to receive it, and tell me in what way I can send it, I will do so at once. Direct your letter to me at Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York. And believe me, respectfully, your obedient servant, M. H. Cheyster Late Brv't Major General U.S. Cal.

Perhaps the editor could not decipher the former general's signature. "M. H. Cheyster" was actually Morgan Henry Chrysler who had commanded a brigade in the division of T. J. Lucas during the final campaign against Mobile in 1865. At that time, he apparently came into possession of the flag of the Claiborne Guards. The flag was eventually returned to Mrs. Thomas A. Hamilton (Henrietta Gaillard) of Mobile and was later placed in the Y.M.C.A. Discovering that it was not being properly cared for, her nephew, Wallace Parham, reclaimed the flag and donated it to the Alabama Department of Archives and History on March 13, 1941.

This flag received conservation treatment and was prepared for display by Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. of Sharpsburg, Maryland in 1992 (see conservation report).

      Brewer, Willis. Alabama: Her Resources, War Records and Public Men; From 1540-1872. Montgomery, 1872.
      Curator's Object Files, Civil War Flags, Alabama Department of Archives and History.
      Hubbs, G. Ward. "Lone Star Flags and Nameless Rags," The Alabama Review. October, 1986, pp. 271-301.
      Tancig, W. J. Confederate Military Land Units, 1861-1865. New York, Thomas Yoseloff, 1967.
      Warner, Ezra. Generals in Blue. Baton Rouge, La., 1964.

      1Claiborne was occupied on the evening of April 11, 1865. The Federal troops departed on April 15th.

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Updated: October 25, 2006