Richmond still was celebrating the victory at Leesburg/Ball’s Bluff when, on Dec. 9, Gen. Evans took leave of the Seventh Brigade. He presented each regiment with the new Confederate battle flag sewn by some Richmond ladies.
Virginia Miller, a resident of Leesburg, remembered the events of that Monday morning in her diary:
“The regiments were just falling into line when we arrived, and there was a great concourse of people. It was a most beautiful scene, but there came near being some disaster, as Gen. Evans and aids were going to ride up in grand style, with the four flags flying, the General’s horse became frightened, and there ensured quite an exciting horse race.
“When that was over, the horses became frightened at the flags, and [Evans’s aide] Mr. Wildman was thrown, and one or two others ran away. At last all was done successfully, the troops were drawn up in a square, and Gen. Evans presented the flags to each Col. (Hunton, Featherstone, Barksdale and Griffin) and they made replies and then presented them to their color companies. The three Generals and staffs then reviewed the brigade, and Gen. Evans rode off, and the regiments marched round and round the field.”
Hill also recorded the moments, including Evans’s brief speech praising the troops for their conduct in the recent battles and telling them goodbye and receiving their cheers in response. Then he left for Centerville.
Although Hunton’s Eighth Virginia was part of the Seventh Brigade and had received a flag from Evans, Hill now began writing about the brigade as the Mississippi Brigade, composed of the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Twenty-First regiments:
“After the review was over General Griffith and staff, Colonel Featherstone of the 17th, Griffin of the 18th and Humphries [sic] of the 21st Mississippi Regiment and several other officers went to our Regiment and dined with Colonel Barksdale. Colonel Barksdale now is as popular with the men as he was previous to getting drunk on the 10th of August. The resignation of the 32 officers who attempted to resign was refused.”
On Tuesday, the war resumed. Wrote Hill: “Clear and cold. As some of the men were gathering corn in a field near Edward’s Ferry today, the enemy [on the Maryland side of the Potomac] fired on them and killed several horses and wounded one man.”
The 13th Ms. Battle Flag was saved at the surrender at Appromatox by Major George McDonald by wrapping it around his body. It will soon be on display at the opening of the new Ms. museum in 2017.
Yes, but it was only one of several battle flags. One of them was captured at Fort Sanders.