|Replica of the flag of Company G, 4th Alabama Infantry at Manassas' 150th Celebration|
Another quick observational post on the Sesquicentennial event at Manassas last month. This time, it all revolves around the Confederate living history camp adjacent to the Henry House, and more directly to the exhibit there which the reenactors entitled, "Flags of Manassas." Curiously, the flags of Manassas were only rebel banners, with nary an American flag in sight. But that's another discussion completely.
Alabama Department of Archives and History.
But what did the flag mean? What was that cotton bale and the large cotton plant on the canton intended to represent?
The ladies of Marion presented the proud banner to their brave men recruited from across Perry County, Alabama. Thanks to some keen numbers crunching by rootsweb user Tom Blake, we can start to get an image of what Perry County looked like on the eve of the war as men joined the army which would fight on the fields of northern Virginia. Perry County had a total of 1,045 slave owners, who held 18,206 humans in bondage. Over half of those slaves were owned by masters with 34 or more humans beings listed as their property. Perry county was a land of plantations and production farming. Commodities flowed from the fields of Perry County, picked by black hands. The flag was simply a, "beautiful device which illustrat[ed] so aptly the product of our lovely country."
So, when the regiment decided to adopt this flag as their regimental banner, what type of statement was that choice making?
To add another plot thickening and tantalizingly juicy detail to the tale, the flag purportedly flapped in the breeze near Thomas Jackson as he received the appellation, "Stonewall." There he stood, like a stonewall, fighting under a banner touting the primacy of the quintessential slave crop. What was this war all about again?