N.C. reenactors work to conserve and display regimental flags

A historic flag captured from the 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg has returned home.

A reenactment unit, whose members include a number of descendants of the original unit’s soldiers, led the charge to acquire the flag, now on display at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The unit is working to restore other standards as well.

On July 3, 1863, the 26th North Carolina advanced as part of the fabled Pickett’s Charge to the stone wall that marked the Union line at Gettys­burg. By the time the Tar Heels got there, the regiment had lost its flag to Union soldiers and suffered 120 casualties. The U.S. War Department returned that flag and others to the Museum of the Confed­eracy in 1906.

To commemorate the regiment’s sacrifice, this year, the 26th North Carolina Troops, “Reactivated”—as the reenacting unit is called—raised funds to secure a three-year loan of the flag from the MOC back to the North Carolina museum.

The reenactors participated in a flag rededication ceremony, featuring descendants of the original regiment, at the Raleigh museum in May.

“I am a descendant of 14 men from the 26th North Carolina,” says Skip Smith, who commands the reactivated unit. “Probably in the neighborhood of 30 of our members have ancestors from the 26th.” The reenactment unit has more than 200 members and has formed a long-term partnership with the museum to help fund flag conservation. The unit raises money through raffles, outreach to local businesses and other means.

So far, the group has sponsored the conservation of three flags—the 26th battle flag, which was captured at the October 1864 Battle of Burgess Mill, the battle flag of the 52nd North Carolina, which was also captured at Gettysburg, and, most recently, the battle flag of the 47th North Carolina, also seized at Burgess Mill.

“We are in the process of selecting our next project and are already raising money for it,” Smith says. “The reason we do battle flags is simple. A uniform represents just one person, whereas a battle flag represents every man who served in that regiment. We feel this is the best way to leave something for future North Carolinians, and it’s something we believe in very strongly.” Visit www.26nc.org and www.ncmuseumofhistory.org.

November/December 2008

7 Responses

  1. Jim Couzzourt

    You state on this website that you have acquired, by loan, a 26th NC flag that was captured July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg. One of my distant relatives, Pvt. Thomas Jefferson Cozart, may have been the last 26th flag bearer to lose his life, and his flag — THAT flag? — during Pickett’s Charge. One set of records says he was killed within 20 feet of The Angle. Another history of that battle states an unnamed flag bearer was killed close to the rock wall at The Angle, and two other Rebs, probably of the 26th, picked up the fallen flag and leaned it against the rock wall, where they were invited by the Yank defenders to “Come on over to meet the Lord.” They surrendered. Thus that flag, and probably others, was captured at The Angle at Gettysburg on July 3, the day before Thomas Jefferson Cozart’s 22nd birthday. I wonder — is “your” 26th Gettysburg flag the one my brave relative gave his life to carry in battle? Take good care of it, please.

    • keith wilson

      Jim, Thomas Jefferson Cozart was a relative of mine as well.

  2. Skip Smith

    This is the flag…it was carried to the wall by Sgt. Brooks and Pvt. Thomas, who were captured along with the flag…

    Our website is http://www.26nc.org

  3. Wayne Moore

    Thomas Jefferson Cozort (spelling is from family Bible) is the brother of my GGrandmother(Nancy Jane Cozort). I have in my possesion a copy of a letter Thomas wrote to his parents. I also have an original letter he wrote to his parents and one page of it was to his sister, Nancy Jane.
    In my posession are copies of pages from the family Bible. A cousin of mine has the Bible. If anyone would like to have copies of anything I have, email me at bevway@tds.net


  4. Gerald M. Malmo, III


    I would like to learn more about 26th NC. My sisters have verified our great, great, great uncle was sgt. Major L. L. Polk later to be Col. L. L. Polk founder of ” State College” later NC State and also Meredith College.

    My son and I spent several days at Gettysburg this summer. He had taken “Battlefield History” at Washington & Lee University tis spring and was inspired.

    The battle field is spectacular! The new museum, visitor center s well worth the trip! The rangers ignorant and misinformed!

    Meanwhile, we working on trying to reestablish ties to many othe relatives through the Yates, Yokley, Horton and beard sides of the family.

    In the process, I would like to find a good replica in cotton of the 26th flag. One for me to fly in Winston-Salem and one for my son to fly in Lexington,VA.

    Earlier this weekend the “souther cross” was banned in Lexington on public property!!! This is censorship!!!!!!!!

    I welcome your help and encouragement!

    Many thanks and I am not some kind of fanatic!

    Gerald M. Malmo, III

  5. SFC Walter Mansfield

    I have just learned from my sister that one of the flag bearers, J.B. Mansfield, is our Great Grandfather. I am very honored to know of this man’s part in one of the greatest battles ever fought.

    May we always remember and never forget the many lives, both Confederate and Union, that were lost in the course of this battle. And we never forget the many lives that continue to give of themselves every day serving in our military today.

    May God always bless and keep us safe as a nation, fighting together for freedom.


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