Return the Flags

‘But they’re wearing blue, grandpa. They are yankees.’

‘No son. They’re Americans.’

Rough Riders (1998)

The video above matter of factly displays the flag of the 28th Virginia captured by the 1st Minnesota on July 3, 1863 during the repulse of Picket’s Charge.    The 1st Minnesota of course had its moment of glory when it delayed a Confederate attack with a charge that left 82% of the regiment dead and wounded, buying time with their blood for Union reinforcements to hold the line against the advancing Confederates, and likely saved the Union Army from defeat at Gettysburg.

One can understand the significance of the captured flag for the people of Minnesota.  Of course the flag also has significance to the state of Virginia, and a conflict has been simmering for years over the refusal of Minnesota to return the flag to Virginia:

Minnesota returned fire Wednesday when a Senate committee voted to ignore a request from the state of Virginia and keep a controversial Civil War battle flag.

The flag, which features the stars and bars of the Confederate emblem, was captured by the Minnesota 1st Volunteer Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, a re-enactment group based in the Roanoke, Va., area, has tried for years to regain possession of the flag.

Members say Minnesota is obligated to return the flag under a 1905 congressional resolution that says flags captured in battles should be returned to their originating states.

In 1998, then-Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III rebuffed a request from the 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, saying the law applied only to flags already in the War Department’s possession. He also ruled that the group had no legal standing to request the flag.

Minnesota refused to return the flag.

Last year, Virginia’s Legislature and governor signed off on a resolution urging the Minnesota Historical Society to ‘‘facilitate’’ the flag’s return to Virginia.

The Historical Society again refused.

A 1905 law required the War Department to return all captured Confederate flags in Federal possession to their home states.  However many northern states retained the flags their units had captured during the War.  Over the years many of the flags have been returned, often with a fair amount of ceremony.  I think it would be a nice gesture of national unity if at the end of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in April of 2015 that all captured Confederate flags be returned to their  home states.  The great lesson of the Civil War is that we are all one people:  Black and White, Union and Confederate, and returning the flags would be a symbol of that great truth.

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  1. It would be a nice gesture, but I wouldn’t count on it. Too much of temptation to lord their superiority and triumphalism over the South.

    Not all of your Yankee brethren are gentlemen like you, Don.


  2. Cool.

    VA does not have a valid claim.

    However, if I were Minnesota I would not taunt VA with “Come and take it.”

    Given the numbskulls they keep electing, I doubt if many contemporary Minnesotans could carry the laundry of their courageous Forebrears.

  3. Case in point.

    Ah, well. Enjoy your gun confiscations and unrestricted abortions-on-demand and same-sex “marriages” up there in Yankee town. The South, meanwhile, will continue to do alright for itself, with or without the flag.

  4. “Enjoy your gun confiscations and unrestricted abortions on demand and same sex ‘marriage’ up there in Yankee land.”

    I don’t think ALL “Yankee”, i.e. Union, states are like that. Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota are pretty darn conservative and didn’t SoDak come about as close as any state has to passing abortion laws that directly challenge Roe? At one point, I believe, NOW or some similar organization was advocating a boycott of South Dakota tourism over the issue. Also, it would appear that Wisconsin and Michigan have to some extent “seen the light” and taken a sharp right turn in recent years — WI finally passed concealed carry a couple of years ago, leaving IL as the lone state with no provisions whatsoever for it — though it remains to be seen whether it lasts.

  5. While I may live in Ohio, my heart is in Dixie. I am a Texan and a Virginian. I merely reside in Ohio, and I forgive them for sending that many soldiers to invade my home.


    As to my comment above to which Elaine was responding, it has generally applicability to “Yankee land”, but I was specifically thinking about the state of New York when I wrote it.

  6. Yep. All you Yankees got is lording your superiority over the South about something that happened 150 years ago. Good luck with that while being enveloped by rampant secularism.

  7. Next time, fight harder.
    Can’t be done.
    Never in history has there been better.
    (Eh, sure it’s up for argument, but that’s my best response to your gag line.)

  8. “Never in history has there been better.”

    Certainly in American history. The Confederates kept fighting until virtually every city and most towns were occupied by the Union. They kept fighting until half past midnight for their cause. General Grant had this to say:

    “What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.”

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