By Gail Parnelle
Historical Society of the Georgia National Guard, Inc.
The Historical Society of the Georgia National Guard, Inc., presented the Georgia Capitol Museum with one our historical flags, May 15, 2003. The flag is in such fragile condition that the Society decided that it should be placed with the flag collection at the Capitol Museum. Ms. Dottie Olson, museum director, and her assistants proudly accepted the flag and immediately began the steps in its journey toward conservation. Though we do not have the exact years of its use, the flag has 45 stars and bears the inscription "1st Battalion Infantry, Georgia Volunteers" on the stripes. A section of flag following the word "Volunteers" appears to have been cut away rather than torn. The flag may have been flown by the Georgia Volunteers during the Spanish American War era -- 1898-1902. Two time periods help in giving us the era: Georgia changed from "Georgia Volunteers" to "Georgia State Troops" in December 1899 and the 45th star was added for Utah in July 1896, the 46th star for Oklahoma was added in July 1908.
When the flag came into the possession of the Society, it was folded into a small flimsy box with no identification. In fact, the flag and other artifacts and papers simply appeared in the Society's office as if someone was cleaning out an office and decided it was time to get rid of the clutter. In checking the historical files maintained by the Society, we found that the Savannah Volunteer Guards likely used the flag because they were designated 1st Battalion of Infantry on Feb. 19, 1894 and retained that designation until Oct. 18, 1899 when their four companies became part of the 1st Regiment of Infantry (they then formed a separate battalion within the regiment and retained their special name).