First Confederate Flag

Would you know why I am a “Veteran” “Daughter of the Confederacy,” and of the making of our first flag? Then must I tell you something of my story.

My father, an eminent lawyer, active in public work, and a member of the Legislature, died at the age of thirty-three, leaving my mother and three little children.

His State honored his memory by the monument which marks his grave, and his name is held in loving – memory by his associates.

My mother belonged to quite an old family that can count its ten quarterings. My great-grandfather owned the first brick house in the city of Savannah. There it was that the first General Assembly of the State of Georgia was convened by Governor Reynolds, January 7, 1755. Up to my young girlhood the place still bore the name of the old Eppinger house. My grandfather, James Eppinger, was Marshal of the State of Georgia during the war of 1812. He occupied afterwards many positions of trust in his native city, Savannah, and was for twenty-eight years Senior Judge of Pike County.

My mother was the most intellectual woman in her community, and often the referee of committees of gentlemen on matters of public business. She belonged to the old school, and thought children should be taught early. I do not know when I learned to read. I seem always to have known, and loved it. My mother taught my sister, brother and myself, and a feature in her instruction was “conversations” on topics of interest, local, literary or historical. While we read and talked of those who had done brave deeds, my heart would burn within me. I almost envied every Revolutionary heroine, and longed to prove my love of country.

When the war clouds of 1860 began to lower, we looked, and listened, and read with interest every item on the situation. We were all States’ Rights Southerners, and the blue cockades of the “Minute Men” decorated not only the lapels of the coats, but the girls also thus attested their readiness to give themselves to the young Confederacy of States that followed so quickly the lead of South Carolina.

When the tidings flashed over the country that the Confederacy was formed and her flag flung to the breeze, every town floated a banner. My mother was asked to make the one for ours, and I, among others, helped to make the first Stars and Bars ever kissed by the sunlight in our Courthouse Square.

Now the roll of the drum was heard daily. The blue-cockaded “Minute Men” were organizing into companies; the women into “Soldiers’ Aid Societies.” One day every week, for four years, these societies met to do anything they could for the soldiers. While at home they were still first in our thoughts – study of anything personal came afterwards.

We made tents, uniforms, caps, underwear, knit socks, gloves, comforters, all with our fingers, and often spun and wove the thread and cloth from which they were manufactured. Lessons were learned at night when the day’s work was done; or, we memorized lessons and poetry as we walked to and fro at the spinning wheel drawing out the soft thread for soldiers’ jeans. We conned French, Latin and English grammar as we carded the cotton into snowy rolls; read Shakspeare, Scott and other standard authors while we plaited palmetto to fashion into hats. Even as we walked in the gloaming, the busy needles clicked, knitting for the soldiers, and those who stayed at home were also in active service for our country.

My mother was the Treasurer and Secretary of our Aid Society; therefore, our home was the depot for the supplies sent through that channel. As the war continued, we scraped lint, rolled bandages, scoured the country for old, soft cloth, packed boxes of vegetables and dainties for the hospital service, and collected for the comfort of the wounded whatever we could find.

But all this came later. I was asked to tell you of the flag of our first company, “The Confederate Guards,” Company A, Thirteenth Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, Gordon’s Brigade.

I had early been taught to sew very nicely. As soon as the company was formed, aided by contributions from some ladies, I purchased the materials and made a beautiful company flag, embroidering on it the name of the company. When it was finished I wished to get one of the young ladies to present it, but my uncle and other officers said they knew I had made it, and they wished me to give it to them myself.

The day selected was a militia drill, and there were thousands present. My chosen attendants were little girls, dressed in white with red and blue sashes, each representing a Confederate State. My bouquet was a floral Stars and Bars; my address, that of a child with a woman’s heart, responded to by one of the company.

A beautiful May morning it was. The bright sunlight “shone on fair women and brave men,” with faces all aglow with patriotic feeling. The company in their beautiful new uniforms of Confederate gray, arms glittering, colors flying, faces illumined and ennobled by the high, brave spirit within, marching, marching away. Away from

South Carolina Women in the Confederacy. Edited and Published By Mrs. Thomas Taylor, Chairman, Mrs. Smythe, Mrs. August Kohn, Miss Poppenheim, Miss Martha B. Washington, State Committee Daughters of the Confederacy. Columbia, South Carolina, The State Company, 1903.

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