FLAT ROCK, N.C. - The only flag known to exist from the Second Georgia Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army, made in 1860 by eight ladies in Burke County, Ga., will be sold at a massive three-day multi-estate sale to be held Feb. 21-23, 2008, by Richard D. Hatch & Associates. A pair of Union presentation swords will also be sold. The flag is expected to bring $150,000-$250,000.
"To say this flag is rare would be a gross understatement," said Richard Hatch. "It's the only one known to exist, plus it's a piece of American history. The fact that the consignor is a direct descendant of the man who carried the flag into battle - William Douse Whitehead (Company D, 2nd Georgia Regiment) - only adds to its cache." The flag has three bars, eleven stars and measures 3' x 4'.
Whitehead was killed at the battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia, on July 1, 1862. The flag was carried into some of the major battles of the Civil War: Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg, Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga and finally Appomattox, where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant. Afterward, the flag was returned to Burke County, where it remained with the original family.
Whitehead's descendants own the Ivanhoe Plantation in Georgia, as they have for the last 144 years. The property is still a functioning plantation, with about 2,000 acres. The family decided the time was right to sell the flag, which has been kept in a strong box for years.
It is still in its original state - battle worn and bloodstained - and it is in a remarkable state of preservation, with few tears.
When the flag was presented to the regiment, in May 1861, Captain William R. Holmes remarked, "This flag shall be our rallying point around which every sharpshooter will claim no greater honor than to protect and defend."
Unlike the crossed-bars-and-stars flag commonly associated with the Confederacy, this one has three broad horizontal bars - two red and one white - and eleven stars (ten forming a circle and one inside). It was the first national flag of the Confederacy (later dubbed "stars and bars").
It is mentioned in the diary of descendant Catherine Whitehead Rowland in a 2005 book titled "Burke Sharpshooters."
The two Union presentation swords both carry pre-sale estimates of $3,000-$5,000. One was given to William Bandy (Infantry, Company K, 37th Illinois Volunteers) by the men under him who also fought at the battle of Pea Ridge, Ark. (March 1862). The other sword was issued to Captain Scott Miller (7th Indiana Regiment), who was wounded in battle. His discharge papers will also be sold.