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   CONFEDERATE 1st NATIONAL (STARS & BARS) PATTERN BIBLE FLAG WITH 13 EMBROIDERD STARS, CAPTURED IN NEW ORLEANS AT THE "BATTLE OF THE HANDKERCHIEFS" BY MAJOR FREDERICK GREEN STILES OF THE 42nd MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY, FEBRUARY 20th, 1863:


 

Description:
Confederate 1st national format (a.k.a., Stars & Bars) Bible flag, made of silk and entirely hand-sewn. The flag is accompanied by a note, hand-written with a dip pen in a 19th century hand, that reads: "Secesh" Emblem taken from a Confederate Officer at New Orleans. Feb. 20th 1863-- Mrs. L.G. Stiles [perhaps F.G. Stiles] Contributor No. 3 Harrington Ave. Worcester Mass The flag was evidently taken by Union Army Major Frederick Green Stiles, a 37-year-old carriage painter from Worcester, Massachusetts, at a very interesting encounter with the citizens of New Orleans called "The Battle of the Handkerchiefs" or "The Battle of the Fair" (meaning Women and Children). According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, dated March 7th, 1863: "Friday, Feb. 20, will be a day to be long remembered in New Orleans, and from it must date an era in this city. The departure of the second installment of rebels, under General Banks' orders, took place on that day". The conflict arose when it was announced that captured Confederate troops would be led aboard ships at New Orleans Levee, in order that they may be taken to Baton Rouge and exchanged for captured Union soldiers. The unusual story played out over the course of the following day and throughout the next night, and is recounted in full by several sources. Of these, the most skillfully penned can be viewed at the following address: http://dixieoutfitters.com/p/battle-of-handkerchiefs?ol=no&pi=2670&ri=2669 By any account, it's a simply terrific tale of the more personal aspects of the war and well-worth the brief read. Though primarily peaceful, the events were at some points aggravated and its seems likely that Stiles took the Bible flag from an unnamed officer at some point in the m�l�e. Stiles was commissioned as a Captain in the 42nd Massachusetts on September 11th, 1862. He travelled to Louisiana with Company E on the Steamer Charles Osgood. The unit stayed at Carrollton, LA until Jan. 26th, 1863, when it moved to Bayou Gentilly (part of New Orleans) on the Ponchartrain Railroad. The unit remained there until July of that year. Before the end of his military service, Stiles was promoted to the rank of Major. Bible flags are tiny flags made for a soldier by a loved one, to be presented as a token of pride and affection when he went away to war. They received this name because they were typically carried in a Bible, both because this was the safest place that a soldier might keep a flat, treasured object on his person with limited places to do so, and because it sometimes doubled as a bookmark. Bible flags were most often made of ladies� dress silk or dress ribbon. A woman might use new fabric, but if the maker was a girlfriend of fianc�e, as opposed to a mother or sister, then she might use fabric clipped from her own dress a way to further personalize the flag. Bible flags are found in all shapes and sizes, and with every star configuration imaginable, but most are small enough to fit in a small Bible. Many were small enough to fit in a Civil War cover (a small 19th century envelope used for correspondence in that period) and were mailed to a loved one in the field. There was no standard size, however, so they were sometimes larger. This small flag is slightly larger than a cover. The colors of a 1st national pattern flag included a blue canton and white stars (sometimes gilded or gold), set in the upper hoist end corner, and a field of three bars, red-white-red. Due to the lack of red silk in the average household, and the likelihood of some pink silk among a woman�s effects, pink was often substituted. That was not the case here, where lengths of red silk ribbon were clipped and hemmed on the inner seams and pieced to a length of white ribbon. The blue silk canton contains 13 gold needlepoint stars, arranged in a wreath of 12 with a star in the very center. Note the lack of symmetry in the wreath, which adds a crude folk quality to the homemade design. The un-selvedged edge of the blue silk was lightly bound with dark blue thread, while the raw edges of the ribbon at the hoist and fly ends were similarly finished with golden yellow thread. The paper note was at one time sewn to the point along the hoist where the canton and red bar meet. A small remnant of this multi-stranded black thread is intact on both the hoist and the note. The star count reflects the eleven states that officially seceded from the Union, plus the two key Border States that are typically represented on Southern Cross style "Confederate Battle Flags". Kentucky and Missouri each had factions that voted for secession and each ended up with split governments, one Union and one Confederate, which created a key distinction between these and the other Southern-leaning Border States of Delaware, Maryland, and (following its admission to the Union is 1863) West Virginia. The two states were officially adopted by the Confederacy, but always held different position due to their dual status. Further information on Major Francis Green Stiles: Stiles married Ann L. Croome on June 14th (Flag Day), 1848. She died before the war broke out, on November 27, 1858.He survived the war and later lived in Worcester at No. 7 Harrington Ave.. He had three children to Ann, including Tristan, who died around age 3, Frederick W., born 1854, and Herbert, born 1858. By 1860 he had married his second wife, Melinda. He seems to have had at least one child to Melinda, Herbert Augustus, born Nov. 17th, 1879. Mrs. Stiles, who, according to the note, lived just 4 doors down, was either a daughter, granddaughter, or perhaps his second wife. What appears to be an "L." may simply be an "F.", for "Mrs. Francis Green Stiles". Further research is hoped to shed more light on this fact. Perhaps the street number was also incorrect. Francis G. Stiles passed away in 1908. He was very active in the local historical society--records show his participation as late as 1906--so it makes sense that someone in his family afterwards lent the flag to an exhibit of some nature, with provenance written on the attached note. A photo of Francis was located on page 7 of Volume 6, No. 1, of the Worcester Magazine, dated July, 1903. A copy of that image is included with the flag. In summary, this is a great example with known history to Massachusetts and New Orleans, with beautiful construction. Mounting: The gilded molding dates to the period between 1830 and 1870. The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% hemp fabric. The note was hinged to a piece of 100% cotton rag mat. Spacers keep the objects away from the glass, which is U.V. protective.
Inventory Number:

Dealer  

Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 19th Century (1801-1900)
Date: 1863
Origin:
Condition: There is some splitting in the blue canton, accompanied by loose binding stitches on the outer perimeter. There is minor to moderate foxing and staining in the red and white bars. The flag presents wonderfully. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Measurements: Frame: 12.5" x 13" Flag: 3.75" x 7.5"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Web-site: http://www.jeffbridgman.com
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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