This flag was carried by the regiment whose major shot Stonewall Jackson.
Time lifts high a Civil War banner
This flag was carried by the regiment whose major shot Stonewall Jackson. Photo Courtesy of N.C. Museum of History http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1125071.html
RALEIGH - A woolen flag with cotton stars flew the night Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson caught a bullet in the arm -- a quiet witness to one of history's great accidents.
You can see it inside a case on the third floor of the N.C. Museum of History, hanging over a Confederate ammunition chest recovered from a Johnston County farm: the flag carried by the regiment that inadvertently shot the man who was arguably the South's No. 2 general.
The museum just bought the flag for a price Curator of Military History Tom Belton would describe only as a bargain.
Any price would be puny for such a find, he said, calling the flag one of the greatest acquisitions in his 30-year career. No matter what you feel for the rebel soldiers who carried it -- pride, disdain, boredom -- the flag can light the imagination.
"It's the flag that was flying over the regiment that mortally wounded Stonewall Jackson," said Tom Walsh, the New Jersey professor who sold it. "It opens up all sorts of what-ifs."
The flag came to the 18th North Carolina Regiment late in 1862. Those troops came mostly from Bladen, Robeson and New Hanover counties, and they had already slogged through some of the Civil War's bloodiest battles, including Sharpsburg -- or Antietam in the North .
By then, Jackson had become Gen. Robert E. Lee's most trusted lieutenant, a mercurial and deeply religious eccentric nicknamed for "standing like a stone wall" at the First Battle of Bull Run -- or First Manassas, to a Southerner.
But on the evening of May 2, 1863, Jackson rode out to scout Union lines at Chancellorsville. He had just led the twilight attack that crushed the right flank of the Union's powerful Army of the Potomac, an audacious strike by Lee's far smaller Army of Northern Virginia.