Information on Polk pattern Battle Flag
the field at Murfreesboro, and attributed to the
16th Tennessee Infantry
What follows is a copy of an e-mail that was kindly sent to me by Jamie Gillam in reference the flag that was found on the battlefield at Murfreesboro, which is claimed to be the Regiments. (Jamie has spent many years researching the Regiment and is the author of 'The Sixteeth Tennessee Infantry Volunteer Regiment Book I' and 'The Battle of Perryville and the Sixteenth Tennessee Infantry Regiment.')
'Just a little info. concerning the possible Polk corps flag that you attribute as being captured by the Federals at Murfreesboro.
Long ago in the late eighties or early nineties I was reading through a book of Confederate flags in which, was a photo of the Polk's Corps flag housed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA, identifying it as belonging to the 16th Tennessee and captured by Federal troops at Murfreesboro.
It of course sparked interest immediately to me. I had never seen or read anywhere that the Sixteenth had ever lost a flag in battle. In fact, as you state, the remnants were given to Savage that evening at Murfreesboro, with the staff hit in two or more places and the flag literally shot to pieces.
Knowing this and finding it odd that the photo in the book would be attributed to the 16th, as it has no identification on it, I immediately contacted the museum in Richmond.
When asked about it's origin or identification, the Curator could give me NO information at all. After attempting to look up its accession info, they soon realized there was none. They didn't even know where the flag came from or how or when it ended up there. They simply knew it to be a Polk's Corps issue flag. Any accession information was either lost long ago or they never even accessed it, as was common with many museums before the 1940's.
Come to find out, I met a guy in the mid - nineties who had helped do research for the book, and knowing that the flag was Polk's Corps, he started looking into battles that involved that corps throughout the course of the war, and more or less just winged his conclusion.
There is not one shred of evidence to even suggest, that this flag can in any way be attributed to the 16th Tennessee except through the affiliation it holds with the Corps as a whole.
I argued that point to the guy and he of course admitted it was an educated guess, but one I would call poorly researched - a poor assumption. At any rate, the book remains in print and continues to spread an assumption as fact.'