The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1862 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, Asst. Director of Collections, for writing this series.

Flag of Company A., Blount Guards, 23rd Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. Accession Number: 1968.61.1 (Museum Division Collection)

Flag of Company A, Blount Guards, 23rd Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. Accession Number: 1968.61.1 (Museum Division Collection)

The Surrender of Ft. Donelson

This First National pattern flag belonged to Company A, “Blount Guards,” 23rd Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. Captain C.G. Blount raised the Blount Guards in August 1861, in Iuka in Tippah County. Blount’s sister presented the company with this flag shortly before they left to join General Albert Sidney Johnston’s forces in Kentucky.

Known as the 3rd Mississippi in Kentucky, this regiment was stationed at Fort Donelson, a Confederate fort on the Cumberland River near Dover, Tennessee, when Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote’s and Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces began their combined attack on February 13. Three days later on February 16, Fort Donelson surrendered unconditionally to Grant and this flag was captured. With the fall of Fort Donelson and its sister fort, Fort Henry, the North gained its first major victories of the war, and “Unconditional Surrender” Grant earned a nickname and became a hero.

The members of the 3rd Mississippi who did not escape from Fort Donelson became prisoners of war and were sent north to prison camps. The prisoners were exchanged in the fall of 1862, and the regiment was reorganized. This Blount Guards flag remained in the possession of its captors until it was returned to Mississippi in 1910.

Sources:

National Park Service, “Fort Donelson National Battlefield,” http://www.nps.gov/fodo/index.htm.

Mississippi Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, “23rd Mississippi Infantry,” http://www.mississippiscv.org/MS_Units/23rd_MS_INF.htm.