The first company to arrive at Macon’s Camp Oglethorpe in early April, 1861, was the Quitman Guards of Monroe County. The Guards’ flag, patterned after the First National, was described in an 1883 newspaper article about a regimental reunion of First Georgia veterans:
“The old flag of the Quitman Guards attracted a great deal of attention. It has many a ghastly gash where the vicious bullets split their way through its fleecy folds, but it is yet in a fair state of preservation, and though the white silk fringe with which fair hands decked its borders is stained and torn, its red, white and blue bars and golden stars stirs the memories of the heart and calls up again the dark days of ’61, when the pride of many a home and the idol of many a heart marched away so proudly away, never, alas, to return again, with it waving so gaily above them. I am as strong for fraternization as anybody, but if I am to do so at the expense of the memory of the men who fell under that flag I will have none of it. Thank heaven there are no longer any to say that the men who marched and fought under the stars and bars were not as noble, as brave, and as honest in their convictions as those who fought under the stars and stripes.”
The major difference between the Quitman Guards’ flag and most First National pattern banners is in the canton. Where in most flags the canton meets the seam of the lowest bar, covering the field of the top two bars, in the Guard’s banner the canton comes down just to the top seam of the middle, white bar. This is my rendering of this flag:
The Monroe County Historical Society holds a photograph of Monroe County veterans, a portion of which is at left. In the right background is displayed a First National Flag. During my research I was advised that this was probably the flag of the Fourteenth Georgia, which is now in the collection of the Georgia Capitol Museum in Atlanta, and can be seen here. Confederate flag authority Greg Biggs, who was of great help with I Will Give Them One More Shot, has studied the photo, and agrees that it is most likely the flag of the Quitman Guards. The flag in the photograph quite plainly displays a fringe, and though shows the obverse, there is no shadow or bleed through of lettering from the front side. The flag of the Fourteenth Georgia has the regiment’s name stenciled on the length of the white bar. Also, the canton of the Fourteenth’s flag projects slightly down into the white bar, while the canton of the flag in the veteran’s photograph appears to run even with the top and middle bars’ seams. Lastly, the Fourteenth’s flag shows no evidence of having had a fringe. It is quite possible that both flags were made by the same person or persons.
*A pet peeve of mine is today’s common habit of calling any Confederate flag the Stars and Bars – most frequently confusing it with the Battle Flag (or Southern Cross) with its St. Andrew’s cross.