Sumter County Alabama

Sumter County
 40th Alabama Inf Reg. Flag

Submitted by:  Elizabeth Hagwood

Also, this information about the flag given to the Alabama Archives Dept. by my great grand father Woodson Gulley.

This flag was apparently issued to the 40th Alabama Infantry at Dalton, Georgia in May, 1864.

In his account of the flag's history former Lt. Colonel Ezekiel S. Gulley stated that it was carried from the time it was issued until the end of the war. At the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, March 22-23, 1865 three flag bearers were shot down carrying the flag. Following the battle, a small group of men became separated from the rest of the regiment for several days narrowly avoiding capture on a number of occasions. To avoid losing the colors, flag bearer Hilliard O'Neal removed the flag from its staff and wrapped it around his body, wearing it underneath his clothing. In his diary, Sgt. John H. Curry of Co. B, provided additional details concerning the incident, "our flag with 40 men were cut off from our Reg. And got behind Fed. Lines and had to make their way Raleigh and return by rail. The flag-bearer tore it from the staff, took down his pants, tied it around his leg, and brought it out all ok except the staff. Several days after the battle they came into camp with it flying on a staff cut for the occasion, men shouted - cried, kissed it, hugged it - &c. such a sensation was never produced in our command before."

Following the Battle of Bentonville, the 40th was consolidated with the 19th Alabama Infantry. The new regiment was designated as the 19th Alabama Infantry and placed in General Edmund Pettus' Brigade. Gulley asked Pettus what was to be done with the flag, to which Pettus replied that Gulley could keep the flag if he wanted to. Gulley retained the flag after the war with the intention of passing it on to his children.

From 1903-1907, Director Thomas Owen corresponded with Woodson and Bettie Gulley trying to persuade them to loan or donate the flag to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The flag was loaned briefly in order for it to be photographed and was then returned to Woodson Gulley. On January 2, 1940, the flag was offered to the Department by Robert S. Campbell, the grandson of E. S. Gulley. The gift was acknowledged on January 9, 1940.

Curator's Object Files, Civil War Flags, Alabama Department of Archives and History.

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