Restored Original Confederate Flags to Return to W&L’s Lee Chapel

Battle Flag No. 62

Battle Flag No. 62

Amidst the focus on replica Confederate flags being removed from inside Lee Chapel on the W&L what has almost entirely been lost is the decision to properly exhibit original Confederate flags on a rotating basis in the museum space below the chapel. The first flag which will be displayed in the Lee Chapel museum is Battle Flag No. 62.

Captured at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, by the 12th New Jersey Infantry, this flag is believed to have belonged to the 26th North Carolina Infantry. A history of the 26th Infantry records the following report on the incident in which the flag was captured: “Our color bearer, a member of Company K, Facuett’s Company from Alamance County, succeeded in passing over this fence, but fell mortally wounded. He died that night with his face to the enemy. Our colors fell with our brave color-bearer not ten steps from the rock wall.” July 3 was the last day of fighting at Gettysburg.

Descriptions of the other battle flags scheduled to appear can be found here.

Yes, I can certainly see why so many people are outraged. πŸ™‚

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31 comments… add one
  • Pat Young Jul 10, 2014 @ 17:48

    Over at Civil War Talk this missive from the North Carolina SCV was posted today. Note that it refers to the black students who started the dialogue over the flags as the “commie committee”. The phrase “commie” was applied for decades by segregationists and white supremacists to black people who spoke for themselves.

    Here it is:

    “Washington and Lee University flag fiasco update.

    Folks, please be aware that the SCV’s National Chief of Heritage Operations, VA Division Commander, VA Division Heritage Officer, the Lexington, VA SCV Camp Commander and I, the ANV Heritage Coordinator, have been working on and monitoring this situation since early April when the “Committee of 7” issued their demands to the school.

    The question was asked, “What are the SCV and UDC doing about this?” I cannot answer for the UDC, but the SCV has been involved since the first notice was issued. As late as last Thursday, we were informed by an SCV member close to the University that, and, I quote, “There has not been any further action based upon the threats and demands by the commie “committee” at W&L. We do anticipate the issue will flare up again towards the end of August as September 1st was the deadline for their demands to be met before they committed “civil disobedience.” The recent announcement by the President of W&L to remove the flags was not expected.

    My questions in a previous post about Commonwealth Statutes relating to the desecration, tampering and removal/theft of items at a gravesite were for gathering information which may be useful. Currently, we cannot ascertain without legal advice if such a Statute(s) exists in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Division SCV will hold a Division Executive Council meeting on Saturday, July 12, to discuss the W&L situation and the possibility of retaining an attorney to research the Statutes. The VA DEC will notify National of any actions that are decided upon and if any assistance is required.

    Surrender is NOT an option. We must keep in mind, however, Washington and Lee University is a private institution, on private property. The President, Board of Directors, some faculty, the Lexington Mayor, City Council and the demographics of the Lexington business owners are against our Cause. Send correspondence (letters preferably), email or call the university to lodge your complaints. Be polite, tactful, but adamant about your concerns. If you are a contributor to the University in any capacity, stop sending your money. Instead, send your contributions to the Virginia Division Heritage Defense Fund or the National Heritage Defense Fund.

    In a recent, similar situation at the Citadel in Charleston, the violation went in our favor when the SC Adjutant General ruled that the flag in question was protected by South Carolina’s Heritage Preservation Act. The school did poll the callers and found that over 50% were in AGREEMENT to removal of the flag. Should our efforts to retain the flags in Lee’s Chapel, let’s turn those same efforts into getting statutes passed to protect our gravesites.

    I have said it before; we MUST be united in these heritage violations. The SCV, UDC, OCR, Flaggers, MechCav and MOS&B have a greater Cause than their individuality. Divisions need to support each other in these fights. The proverbial snowball is moving too quickly down the hill and it will take all of us who believe in our Confederate heritage to stop it.”

    Ronnie S. Roach
    Communications Officer of the N.C. Division SCV. “

    • Kevin Levin Jul 10, 2014 @ 17:54

      As Andy Hall already pointed out the SCV has about as good a chance of challenging the school as they did the Lexington City Council.

      I have said it before; we MUST be united in these heritage violations.

      I still don’t know what heritage violation they are talking about. I guess the one involving the return of original Confederate battle flags.

  • Richard Welty Jul 10, 2014 @ 13:59

    the term restored keeps being used for these flags. are they restored or are they conserved? the flag in the photograph appears to be conserved rather than restored.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 10, 2014 @ 14:02

      Hi Richard,

      I believe it is conserved. My apologies if I’ve been inconsistent.

      • Richard Welty Jul 10, 2014 @ 16:20

        i think the problem is a lot of the early articles/announcements improperly used the word “restored” for these flags. i wouldn’t have know but as it happens last week i took a tour of the NYS Capitol which ended at the display of colors from 1864 that are part of the NY collection, and got a brief lecture (with examples) of the differences. New York has a very large collection, improperly stored for a very long time, which they are working very slowly on conserving.

  • Dale Fortenberry Jul 9, 2014 @ 16:21

    Why not let the Southern people Honor their History & Heritage much like others do.Slowly but surly College presidents are taking away any and all reference to the brave men and great leaders in the War..

    • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2014 @ 16:25

      Hi Dale,

      Thanks for the comment. You are just as free to honor any history and heritage today as you were yesterday. We live in a great country.

    • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 9, 2014 @ 17:37

      Are you suggesting that you have the right to take away Washington & Lee University’s autonomy simply to satisfy your desires? Why not let the institution honor its history and heritage as it chooses to do?

      Lee’s leadership at Washington College came after the war, remember?

  • Boyd Harris Jul 9, 2014 @ 14:49

    I am just gonna be psyched that it is the 26th NC flag being put down there. Take that 11th Mississippi. You can put as many monuments up as you want, but everybody knows that the 26th got the farthest. Of all the losers in that war, NC was the first loser.

    -From a complicated North Carolinian. πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

    • Andy Hall Jul 9, 2014 @ 15:20

      Zebulon Vance is looking down and smiling. Or up, whatever. πŸ˜‰

    • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 9, 2014 @ 15:57

      I’m waiting for descendants of members of Pickett’s division to protest that choice.

  • Connie Chastain Jul 9, 2014 @ 13:33

    Yes, gentlemen, I know Lee’s office was downstairs. I know the family crypt is downstairs. But if you think THAT is why the trickled-in flags will be put down there, you all are most gullible. This is institutional tip-toeing, to appease the offended. What happens when the offended raise a stink about the trickled-in flags in the basement museum? Where will the flags go next to be even better hidden?

    I don’t know how school officials are motivated but even school officials can’t wipe out heritage in one fell swoop. It has to be incremental, as this is.

    And nowhere did I say I see it as total erasure — why do you put erroneous words in the mouths of those who disagree with you, Mr. Levin? — only that total erasure is what critics want.

    And Simpson’s comment re: Grant, just proves I’m right — erase Lee except as the prime example of Confederate evil.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2014 @ 13:40

      But if you think THAT is why the trickled-in flags will be put down there, you all are most gullible.

      The flags are going downstairs so they can be properly displayed and preserved. Most likely they will be in cases. There really isn’t much to respond to with this comment. You are free to express your belief about what may or may not happen next. What you don’t respond to, however, is the content of the president’s response. We simply disagree that the president’s response reflects an attempt to “appease” students.

      1. Original Confederate flags will be displayed in the Lee Chapel.
      2. Organizations will still be able to use the building for events that commemorate Lee.
      3. The president did not issue an “apology” as the students requested.

      Again, I don’t see how this points to appeasement. Sorry, but we live in different worlds.

      • msb Jul 9, 2014 @ 22:27

        Well said, Kevin, because you’re basing your analysis on the facts of the situation, and not claiming to read all the participants’ minds and imputing base motives to those who disagree with you. Thanks for holding this discussion.

    • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 9, 2014 @ 15:54

      Well. if you don’t like Washington & Lee’s decision, then don’t go there. We know how effective that boycott of Lexington has been.

      By the way, I don’t see Lee as the prime example of Confederate evil. I don’t even see him as an example of Confederate evil. I see him as a man, with strengths and faults. Among those strengths was his decision to become president of Washington College as his contribution to rebuilding his state and his nation, a goal that southern separatists would see as misguided if not simply evil. Lee may rest far under Confederate flags originally put in place in 1930, but he breathed his last under the flag of the United States (h/t to Ulysses Dietz).

      But Connie may continue to tell us why people do what they do, placing erroneous thoughts in the minds of those who disagree with her. After all, she writes fiction for a living … or is it simply designing book covers?

      • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2014 @ 16:10

        Well said, Brooks.

      • Connie Chastain Jul 9, 2014 @ 19:21


        “Lee may rest far under Confederate flags originally put in place in 1930, but he breathed his last under the flag of the United States…”

        Not by his choice. He and hundreds of thousands of other Southerners fought for four long, hard, bloody years and suffered greatly so they could die under the flag of their own country, not a flag of conquest. The attitudes exhibited around this issue reveal unmistakably one reason why they longed for, and fought for, separation from the government and people of the United States.

        • Kevin Levin Jul 10, 2014 @ 1:52

          You should probably go back and read what Lee actually said after the war.

          The attitudes exhibited around this issue reveal unmistakably one reason why they longed for, and fought for, separation from the government and people of the United States.

          I don’t know too many people who actually believe that you’ve read enough history to make any claims about what Americans in the 1860s claimed to be fighting for and why.

        • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 10, 2014 @ 6:28

          Lee surrendered, accepted the result of a war in which he fought, and went to work to rebuild his region and his nation. You refuse to accept the results of a war with which you had nothing to do and accept the benefits of living in a nation which you despise while stirring up hatred with your bigotry. Nothing more need be said.

          • Jimmy Dick Jul 10, 2014 @ 8:52

            Brooks, I think that is the best answer to a Causer I have seen to date.

          • Christopher Shelley Jul 10, 2014 @ 9:20

            A nation she despises that, oh by the way, guarantees to her the right to despise it. The old South made no such guarantees.

  • Connie Chastain Jul 9, 2014 @ 12:41

    But have you not noticed that flags will not returned to the mausoleum where they were ripped down? (Yes, that is rhetorical symbolism). Or are you deliberately ignoring that “little detail”? They will be trickled in one at a time and tucked away downstairs in the museum, the better to distance Lee from the flags and the Confederacy, which will have to do until what all you critics really want can be achieved — the total erasure from Lee from the university and from history itself, except as the prime example of Confederate evil.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2014 @ 12:49

      Yes, the replicas will be taken down. If school officials were really motivated in the way you imply with this comment it seems to me they would have removed the flags and that would be the end of it. Instead they are going to display in full view for anyone who in interested a number of original Confederate battle flags. Only you and the other yahoos in your community could see this as “total erasure”. Nice try, Connie. πŸ™‚

    • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 9, 2014 @ 12:56

      Actually, the Lee family crypt is downstairs, so the general’s remains will be on the same floor as your beloved banner. Sounds like you haven’t visited.

      I wouldn’t want Lee erased from history … otherwise, General Grant would be talking to nobody at Appomattox.

      • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2014 @ 12:58

        Thanks, Brooks. I forgot to mention that. I believe the office Lee used while at W&L is also on the lower level. It’s pretty clear that Connie has never visited the Lee Chapel.

        • Forester Jul 9, 2014 @ 13:38

          But the flags over Lincoln’s body are gone, right? At least that’s what I assumed from the viral photographs going around Facebook.

          Originals are more interesting than replicas, but I think some kind of CS flag should be displayed in his crypt.

          I’ve never been there and I know nothing about the place.

          • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2014 @ 13:41

            Originals are more interesting than replicas, but I think some kind of CS flag should be displayed in his crypt.

            In my first post on this subject I also called for the flags to remain. My guess is that Confederate veterans would prefer the original flags and I assume they probably wouldn’t have a problem with where they are displayed.

  • Pamela Winterbottom Neilson Jul 9, 2014 @ 10:55

    I think it is far more interesting to see the original battle flags and learn their histories than see a group of reproductions.

  • Brooks D. Simpson Jul 9, 2014 @ 10:46

    Restore the Honor! Return the Replicas!

  • Barbara Gannon Jul 9, 2014 @ 10:19

    I remember one meeting of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union Army’s largest veterans group, members said they had no problem with the old battle flags and understood why they were honored. But, they wanted no new flags to be made. I agreed with them then, and now.

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