Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)
CWLA seeks to provide an online resource of any and all material of the Civil War relating to Louisiana with a special interest in the war in Acadiana in southwest Louisiana.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

7th Louisiana and the St. Andrews' Cross

Dr. Terry Jones forwarded this news piece that involved the 7th Louisiana Infantry and General Pierre P.G.T. Beauregard's adaptation of St. Andrews' Cross for a flag. Again, big thanks to Dr. Jones for the story.

During the First Battle of Manassas in July 1861, General P.G.T. Beauregard came close to ordering a retreat when he saw the 7th Louisiana approaching his flank and mistakenly believed it was a Union regiment. The incident led Beauregard to design a battle flag based on the St. Andrews’ Cross so Confederate units in the future would not be mistaken for the enemy. In November, the general hosted a dinner party for select officers to unveil the new flag. A correspondent for the New Orleans Delta was present and filed a report that the Richmond Daily Dispatch carried on November 27, 1861.

The Army of the Potomac correspondent of the New Orleans Delta gives an account of the late select dinner party to Gen. Beauregard, from which we extract the following, stating that his report of the remarks of Gen. B. is undoubtedly correct:

"Another incident of the entertainment was likewise peculiarly interesting. When the newly devised battle flag was brought in, Gen. Beauregard related to the company the motives which led to its adoption; and as the recital embraces a thrilling portion of the eventful battle of Manassas. I shall endeavor to reproduce it, as nearly as possible, in the General's own words:

"On the 21st of July, at about half-past 3 o'clock, perhaps 4, it seemed to me that victory was already within our grasp in fact, up to that moment, I had never wavered in the conviction that triumph must crown our arms. Nor was my confidence shaken until that time I have mentioned, I observed on the extreme left, at the distance of something more than a mile, column of men approaching. At their head waved a flag which I could not distinguish. Even by a strong glass I was unable to determine whether it was the United States flag or the Confederate flag. At this moment I received a dispatch from Capt. Alexander, in charge of the signal station, warning me to look out for the left; that a large column was approaching in that direction, and that it was supposed to be Gen. Patterson's command coming to reinforce McDowell. At this moment, I must confess, my heart failed me. I came, reluctantly, to the conclusion that after all our efforts, we should at last be compelled to yield to the enemy the hard fought and bloody field. I again took the glass to examine the flag of the approaching column; but my anxious inquiry was unproductive of result — I could not tell to which army the waving banner belonged.

At this time all the members of my staff were absent, having been dispatched with orders to various points. The only person with me was the gallant officer who has recently again distinguished himself by a brilliant feat of arms — General, then Col. Evans. To him I communicated my doubts and my fears. I told him I feared that the approaching force was in reality Patterson's division; that if such was the case, I should be compelled to fall back upon our own reserves and postpone, till the next day, a continuation of the engagement. After further reflection I directed Col. Evans to proceed to Gen. Johnston, who had assumed the task of collecting a reserve, to inform him of the circumstances of the case, and to request him to have the reserves collected with all dispatch, and hold them in readiness to support our retrograde movement Col. Evans started on the mission thus entrusted to him. He had proceeded but a short distance, when it occurred to me to make another examination of the still approaching flag. I called him back. "Let us" said I, "wait a few moments, to confirm our suspicious, before finally resolving to yield the field."

I took the glass and again examined the flag. I had now come within full view. A sudden gust of wind shock out its folds, and I recognized the stars and bars of the Confederate banner. It was the flag borne by your regiment--here the General turned to Col. Hays, who sat beside him — the gallant Seventh Louisiana; and the column of which your regiment constituted the advance was the brigade of Gen. (then Col.) Early. As soon as you were recognized by our soldiers, your coming was greeted with enthusiastic cheers; regiment after regiment responded to the city; the enemy heard the triumphant huzza; their attack slackened; they were in turn assailed by our forces, and within half an hour from that moment commenced the retreat which afterwards became a confused and total rout. I am glad to see that war-stained banner gleaming over us at this festive board, but I hope never again to see it upon the field of battle."

Gen. Beauregard then explained how the new battle flag was devised — the reason for its adoption being made sufficiently clear by his lucid and thrilling narrative. The flag itself is a beautiful banner, which, I am sure, before this campaign is over, will be consecrated forever in the affections of the people of the Confederate States. During the dinner, as was natural enough, a great number of soldiers congregated around the tent, and clamored for a sight of Gen. Beauregard.--Col. Hays went out, on behalf of the General, and made a speech to them, which of course was received with applause; but the men would not be pacified until Gen. Beauregard himself was presented to them, and until the sound of his voice was heard amongst them. Never have I witnessed so much enthusiasm as when the General assured them of the gratification he experienced in hearing their enthusiastic cheering, and that he hoped to hear the same voices again on the field of battle and in the hour of victory.

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Coppens' Zouave Battalion

Coppens' Zouave Battalion
Lt. Colonel George Coppens (seated) and brother, Captain Marie Alfred Coppens.Image sold at auction on Cowan Auctions, for $14,375