Second Biennial Report of the Department of Archives and History of the State of West
The Battle Flags Of The State.
The Battle Flags Of The State.
As is well known, the Act of the Legislature creating this Department made it the custodian of the State's Battle and Regimental Flags borne by West Virginians in time of War. These tattered and torn relics are associated with the most thrilling events in our history, and they have a peculiar interest to the gallant men still living who followed them in the fierce conflicts of the Civil War.
In the first Biennial Report of this Department, we described briefly the flags of the various West Virginia regimental organizations deposited here. When speaking of the Fifth Regiment Volunteer Infantry, we said: "There are no flags, banners or guidons of this Regiment in the Department." Now we are happy to be able to change this statement. Through the kindness and patriotic spirit of Dr. Daniel Mayer of this City, who was the first Surgeon of the Fifth Regiment, we have secured its first battle flag. With it, the Doctor furnishes the following statement: -
"In 1861, the Fifth Regiment Virginia Volunteer Infantry was organized at Ceredo, in Wayne County, now West Virginia. The ladies of Proctorsville across the river in Ohio, all good, loyal women, presented the Regiment with a flag, made by their own hands, bearing the legend '5th Va. Regiment.'. It was given in charge of Corporal Samuel Jones of Company H., a boy but sixteen years of age, who carried it in all skirmishes and on all marches until the United States Government furnished a new Regimental flag, much larger and heavier, and a stronger man than Corporal Jones was detailed as Standard Bearer. The Colonel then ordered Corporal Jones to return the flag which he had borne, to the Quarter Master, but contrary to this order, he kept it in his possession and much of the time carried it about his body, the emblem to which he had become so much attached. The war ended, years passed away, and the flag was forgotten, until 1885, when Corporal Jones, whose home was then in Indianapolis, Indiana, totally blind and being led by a little child, appeared at a meeting of the Grand Army of the Republic at Louisville, Kentucky, where he made inquiry for Dr. Daniel Mayer, the former Surgeon of the Fifth Virginia Federal Infantry. He was told that Dr. Mayer was present but engaged in the business of the session, and that he could not see him before night. He replied that he must leave for his home, and requested that some one present receive the flag he had with him - the same he had borne in battle's stern array - and in his name present it to Dr. Mayer of the old Fifth Regiment. Mrs. Otto H. Michaelson of Charleston, West Virginia, who was present attending the National Encampment of the Women's Relief Corps, in a neat little speech, accepted the banner, promising to deliver it to Dr. Mayer. This she did and he had long in his possession. He carried it with him to the reunion of the old Fifth Regiment at Ironton, Ohio, in September, 1908, where but forty-eight of the veterans of the regiment answered roll-call. Dr. Mayer brought the flag back home with him and only last week - November 13, 1908, presented it to the Department of Archives and History, there, as he said, 'to be kept forever'."
Thus after more than forty years, this Department is enable to add to its collection of State battle flags another emblem of the soldiery of West Virginia in the times that tried the souls of men.
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