He Kept the Colors: The True Story of the General, the Old Man and the Flag

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AuthorHouse, 2007 - 100 Seiten
Back in the beginning days of America's Civil War, the women of the small town of Marlette, Michigan, in the very heart of the Thumb wanted to show their support of President Lincoln and the Union forces in some small way. They collectively designed and sewed a huge Union flag of 34 stars, four rows of eight with an extra star at the end in between each two rows. This precious flag was then given to a gentleman they knew who lived just to the south who was leaving for the war. Color Sergeant Thomas Henry Sheppard's story, along with that of the Battle Flag of Company E, First Michigan Cavalry, is one of the most incredible true stories to ever come out of the Civil War. The Detroit Free Press back in the 1880's called it "an episode of the Civil War which has a strong coloring of Romance," as the Press told of how the colors of the First Michigan Cavalry were protected as the red, white and blue bunting became more and more tattered and sun-faded and bullet-ridden, and still the flag "assumed a dignity and interest even beyond that which the colors have of their own right to every loyal man." Thomas' account intersects with the lives of two of the War's most famous Generals and is written by a close relative of the third. The Color Sergeant took the colors and with his regiment carried them to the front lines where they saw hot service, and from which many did not return. In his words, the 1st Michigan "fought through the Shenandoah, on Banks' advance and retreat, in the campaigns of Pope and Burnside, and did yeoman service at the Battle of Gettysburg. They were under fire twice at Winchester, at Middletown, Strasburg, Harrisonburg, Occoquan and Thoroughfare Gap." Sheppard and his flag survived 13 major battles, over 100 skirmishes and 16 months of war. Thomas, following right behind his flamboyant new General Custer, led the First Michigan Cavalry into the most famous cavalry charge of the entire war as they stopped the Confederacy short of their certain victory in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Alas, Thomas and his beloved flag went down in that fight, and he became a Prisoner-of-War, spending the next 505 days in prisons of the South, including that Hell hole, ANDERSONVILLE. While all that is stunning enough, the rest of Sheppard's story is almost beyond belief.as many years later he has a chance encounter with the Civil War's most famous Volunteer General "Black Jack" Logan at the train station in Marlette during Logan's whistle-stop campaign for the Vice-Presidency of the United States. Thomas' precious flag with 72 bullet holes.that old flag is now the proudest possession of the Dearborn Historical Museum, in the Commandant's Quarters at the Detroit Arsenal, now Sgt. John S. Cosbey Camp 427, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), where Thomas and the First Michigan Cavalry received their war supplies. He kept the colors.
 

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