On behalf of the ladies of Selma, James Averytt presented the flag to Second Lieutenant S. Newton McCraw of the Magnolia Cadets at Watts' Hall in Selma on April 24, 1861. The company soon departed for Dalton, Georgia, where it was to be formed with other companies into a regiment. On April 28, as the company entered Atlanta, the flag staff was broken accidentally, but Captain Dawson assured Elodie in a letter that the flag was "uninjured":
They used the flag for the last time during a dress parade at Harpers Ferry in June 1861. When the 4th Alabama was brigaded under Bernard Bee, all of the company flags were turned over to company officials, with the exception of that of the Marion Light Infantry, which resembled the Confederate national flag and was briefly used as the regimental colors until more standard battle flags were issued late in 1861.
Following his resignation on April 21, 1862, Captain Dawson returned to Alabama and apparently brought the flag home at that time. Over forty years later, on June 24, 1903, his son, Henry, of Minter, Alabama, donated the flag to the Alabama Department of Archives and History. A newspaper article dated June 6, 1903, reported the flag was in the "most excellent condition of preservation."
Today the flag remains in remarkably good condition, though it is extremely fragile. Along with the other flags, it is stored safely and awaiting much-needed conservation treatment. So far fourteen flags in the department's collection have received conservation treatment and are ready to be displayed.
This feature was previously published in Issue 83, Winter 2007.
About the Author
Robert Bradley, Chief Curator, Alabama Department of Archives and History, is an expert on Alabama's Civil War flags.