Why I Fly The Confederate Flag
By John P. Mann IV
DURING THE PAST few weeks, quite a bit of space has been allotted to the discussion about flying the Confederate flag. The authors of letters and articles concerning the reasons why people fly such flags have posited various motives.
While I cannot, nor would I presume to, guess the motives behind the actions of others, I can explain the reasons that I fly the Confederate flag.
I fly the flag to honor Alfred. Alfred was a servant of Captain John Q. Winfield, Letcher Brock’s Gap Rifles. Alfred, uniformed as the other men in the company, served as orderly from April 1861 through 1862.
I fly the flag to honor Abraham Blakey. Blakey served as a laborer on the breastworks at Richmond and Petersburg in 1864. He received his Confederate pension in July 1926 under an act approved on March 14, 1924. In the June 4, 1934, issue of the DN-R, Blakey is identified as one of 21 surviving Confederate veterans in Rockingham County: “Abe Blakey, colored, of McGaheysville.”
I fly the flag to honor Chapman Byrd Eastham. Eastham enlisted as a private on April 18, 1861, in the Harrisonburg Valley Guards, Company G, 10th Virginia Infantry. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on April 22, 1862, and 1st Lieutenant on May 3, 1863. Lieutenant Eastham was captured at Spotsylvania Court House on May 10, 1864, and imprisoned at Hilton Head, S.C. Later, he was transferred to Fort Pulaski in Georgia. Due to the lack of food and medical attention provided the Confederate officers imprisoned at Fort Pulaski, Lt. Eastham died of chronic diarrhea and typhoid fever on March 6, 1865. To this day, he continues to lie in an unmarked grave at Fort Pulaski.
I fly the flag to honor Thomas A. Lamb. Lamb enlisted in April 1862, in Company C, 10th Virginia Infantry, in what can only be described as overwhelming patriotic duty. The 1862 Conscription Act exempted men more than 35 years old. Pvt. Lamb was 41 when he enlisted, leaving at home his wife, Lucy, and his children — Joseph, 12, Sydney, 10, Sally Jane, 7, Thomas, 5, John Letcher, 4, and James, 2. His family did not have long to await his return, because on May 3, 1863, he “fell in the defense of his country at the battle of Chancellorsville.”
I fly the flag to honor Gabriel Shank. A 22-year-old Mennonite from Singers Glen, he excommunicated himself by enlisting in June 1861 in the Harrisonburg Valley Guards, Company G, 10th Virginia Infantry. He carried a musket through the Battle of Manassas No. 1, after which he requested and received from his commander, Col. Simeon B. Gibbons, the honor of carrying the unit’s color. Shank served as the color-bearer through the battles of McDowell, Winchester No. 1, Port Republic, Cold Harbor, Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Cedar Run, Groveton, Manassas No. 2, Chantilly, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Stephenson’s Junction, Fort Stevens, Kernstown No. 2 and Winchester No. 3. Shank was captured at Fisher’s Hill on Sept. 22, 1864. Ensign Shank then suffered under the prisoner of war system of the federal government. He died on Mach 18, 1865 at Fort Delaware of smallpox.
I fly the flag to honor Simeon B. Gibbons, William M. Kemper, John Quincy Adams Lewis, Stephen M. Rice, John W. Rosenberger, E.T.H. Warren and the other 350 men from Rockingham County who died on the field of honor during the War of Defense in Virginia from 1861 through 1865.
I fly the flag to honor the 3,300 men and women, black and white, who served in the various military organizations raised in Rockingham County during the War in Defense of Virginia from 1861 through 1865.
I fly the flag to honor these men and women, just as veteran and historical organizations fly various other flags to honor Rockingham County veterans of other conflicts and wars in which they served.