View Full Version : The flag of the Lynchburg Home Guard (11th VA Co G)

02-11-2006, 11:54 AM
I live in the Lynchburg, VA area and am currently a member of the 11th VA Co G (a unit of Longstreet's Corps). The original Co. G was formed in 1859 as the Lynchburg Home Guard, the first local militia infantry company raised as the prospect of a possible conflict loomed. The Home Guard was mustered into CSA service in 1861 as Co G of the 11th VA.

I've been interested in the history of this company and others from the Lynchburg area for some time because my wife's ancestors are all from the Lynchburg area and several served with local companies. Several years ago I ran across an excerpt from a book entitled "Annals of the Lynchburg Home Guard" (written in 1891 by Charles M. Blackford, a surviving member of the company) which contained a transcription of the speech given by their then-Captain (later General), Samuel Garland, on the day of the presentation of the original company flag to the Home Guard by the townspeople in 1860. It included a fairly elaborate description of the flag, which was hand-painted on silk by a local Lynchburg resident and artist named George Fitz-Wilson.

I was intrigued by the description, and became determined to find out more about it. I contacted the curator of the Lynchburg City Museum, who initially said he wasn't aware of a militia flag matching that description. However, he later remembered a flyer he had received concerning a flag being offered for sale by Hendershott Museum Consultants that was described as the “Gen. Samuel Garland Battle Flag”. Upon viewing an image of the flag on the Hendershott catalog website I was surprised to find that it matched the description of one side of the Home Guard flag (a version of the Virginia State Seal) to a tee (see image and description from the Hendershott catalog at: http://www.garyhendershott.com/productdetail.cfm?Key=989 ). However, as described in the "Annals", the image on the reverse side of the flag is not the same. It was described thus:

"... And now reverse the flag. The scene is changed. The outlines of nature still are there, still in the distance we behold that long "Blue Ridge" of mountains through whose wild passes in that elder day, bold Spotswood lead his "Knights of the Horseshoe." But now the genius of commerce leading the Ariel spirits of modern progress in her train, has come to preside over shifting scene, and gathers around her the staples of labor, which make up the riches of a prosperous State. Fitting symbols of the present and the future, of what Virginia is, and what in large sense, she means to be. In the back ground, yet distinctly seen, behold not only the Temple of Justice, which is the symbol of peace, but the deep-mouthed cannon, which is the emblem of war. With her arm resting on the shield of the Federal Constitution, and the Stars and Stripes unfolded at her foot, she sits calmly and proudly gazing with conscious sincerity into the hidden future and holding in reserve the arm of her own military power."

According to the Hendershott catalog description the flag accompanied Garland’s body home after he was killed at South Mountain in Sept., 1862, and remained in his family's possession for a long time before it was acquired by William Albaugh (the late notable expert on Civil War bladed weapons) for his private collection. It was eventually purchased by Hendershott when the Albaugh collection was auctioned off, and was sold in 2002 to a private collector. It's a shame that this flag couldn't have been acquired by a local public museum, but the selling price (reportedly $60,000) put it out of reach.

Can anyone provide any insight or information on the scene described on the "reverse" side, or any additional information on the flag itself? Is the description that of some other seal or emblem used at the time? I do know that it is not the seal of the City of Lynchburg. I tried contacting Hendershott's at the time but they did not respond (I had been forewarned that they are not in the habit of divulging any information on their sales or clients, and this was indeed the case). I've contacted several others knowledgeable in the field, but haven't had any success in finding any additional information on the image described. Any help would be much appreciated.

Chuck Greene
11th VA Co G