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Press Release - November 3, 2006

Historic Tennessee Civil War Battle Flags to be Auctioned by Heritage!

DALLAS, TEXAS: To the brave combatants who fight and die for them, flags are far more than just pieces of colored cloth. They represent, in a very real way, home and country. Throughout history, countless men and women have found these glorious symbols worth dying for.

At no time in history was this more apparent than during the American Civil War. Soldiers were called from both sides of the conflict to "rally 'round the flag," to fight and die for their cause. The flags most cherished by troops were their own unit's battle flags, those illustrious banners that led the men in and out of combat, and to which they pledged their very lives. The few authentic battle flags that still exist are prized relics of one of the most important conflicts in American history.

"We're very pleased to be able to offer four superb Civil War battle flags from Tennessee regiments in our upcoming auction," said Tom Slater, Director of Americana auctions for Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries. "Nearly three thousand battles were fought on Tennessee soil during the War Between the States, and many of the men that fought in these battles were Tennessee Volunteers, who carried their own home-sewn or issued flags. The storied histories of these impressive banners begin and end in Tennessee with their troops mustering, fighting, and dying under their bright colors. The flags of the 3rd, 4th, 18th, and 31st Tennessee divisions are here, and all have considerable historical significance for the state of Tennessee, and for the war."

"In these flags, four distinct designs can be recognized, all of which would eventually contribute to the final design of the well-known Confederate flag" said Slater. "The Confederate First National flag was adopted by the Confederate Congress on May 4, 1861 just before the 18th Tennessee was organized. The design for the 'Stars and Bars,' as the flag was called, was used by the 18th Tennessee and taken into battle at Fort Donelson. The Tennessee troops ended up surrendering that day, and the 18th Tennessee would spend the next seven months in prisoner of war camps in the north. They would have much company, as their brethren from the 3rd Tennessee, who fought right beside them and were led by Colonel Joseph C. Palmer, were taken prisoner at Fort Donelson as well. Fighting under General Joseph Hardee's command, the battle flag of the 3rd Tennessee was a hand-sewn bright blue flag with a white canton and '3rd Tenn' stenciled on it. This became known as the 1st Pattern Hardee and is an excellent example of the diversity of flag designs among these Middle Tennessee Confederate units. General Hardee had taken a personal interest in designing the flag, many of which were made by his own wife."

"One can see that Tennessee troops carried a variety of flags into war," Slater continued, "sometimes leading to confusion during battle. Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard petitioned the Confederate Congress to design a flag for the entire Confederate forces, a distinctive one that would be recognized by all troops, both friend and foe alike. The result was the most famous battle flag of the Confederacy, which also became the flag of the 4th Tennessee Confederate Infantry. The famous Beauregard Design shows a bold blue Saint Andrew's cross on a red field, the 4th Tennessee's being one of only two known to exist. The unit received the flag from the noted New Orleans contractor Henry Cassidy, and was carried by them proudly throughout the war."

"After taking over command of the Army of Tennessee in late 1863," Slater said, "General Joseph E. Johnston's first goal was to restore the morale and esprit d'corps of the army. One of his methods to accomplish this was the issuance of new and uniform battle flags to the regiments during the months of March and April 1864. This Saint Andrew's Cross flag is of the Army of Tennessee design, and was issued at the Dalton Depot when the unit wintered in Georgia."

"These flags represent the courage and dedication of the men who marched under them," Slater said, "and are an eternal reminder of the hardships they faced and the sacrifices they made. We are honored to have the opportunity to present theses museum-quality relics to the collecting public."

Confederate 'Stars and Bars' 18th Tennessee Infantry Flag; Captured at Fort Donelson:
ESTIMATE: $75,000 - $85,000

Confederate Battle Flag of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry; Captured at Fort Donelson:
ESTIMATE: $90,000 - $120,000

The Confederate Battle Flag of the 4th Tennessee Infantry: The Famous Beauregard Design:
ESTIMATE: $100,000 - $125,000

The Confederate Battle Flag of the 31st Tennessee Volunteers, "The Western Stars":
ESTIMATE: $125,000 - $145,000

Heritage Auction Galleries will hold their auction of Civil War material on December 1 & 2, 2006 at their headquarters in Dallas, TX.

For more information about Heritage's auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit

Prospective consignors and sellers of political memorabilia, Americana, and related collectibles are invited to visit and click on the "Sell Now" tab. Or simply email Tom Slater at

To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalog, please contact Nicole Jewell at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 272, or visit to order by email.

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