PORTSMOUTH — “It could still be out there:” The flag of the 23rd Alabama infantry captured by a Union soldier at Port Gibson remains lost in time.
Cpl. David Evans, a Civil War veteran, led by the 56th Ohio, captured the flag of the 23rd Alabama Infantry at the Battle of Port Gibson May 1, 1863. David was described as a man of “fine physical development,” According to his younger brother captain John A. Evans. It wasn’t until the intense Battle of Champion Hill May 16, 1863, when David was shell struck by a Rebel in the chest; later dying on July 14 of 1863 aboard the R.C Wood hospital steamboat.
David’s captured flag was sent back to Portsmouth as a token of appreciation where it was suspended in the Council Chamber at Portsmouth City Hall and hung for 58 years until a fire ravaged through the city hall on the night of Feb. 17, 1921.
After the fire, David’s captured flag was never seen again.
David, who trained in Portsmouth, Ohio at Camp Morrow had two other brothers; Captain John A. Evans, a captain fighting for the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and Sgt. Richard D. Evans, who fought in the 56th Ohio, alongside David.
Dylan James, who is David’s great-great-great nephew described his emotions regarding the lost flag.
“It’s really tragic to think about—this man, his life peaked and collapsed in a matter of three weeks,” James said. “It could still be out there, it’s almost like a piece of him could still be living that has never been recovered.”
He has written a book revealing David’s story along with the history of Portsmouth. James, who is the author of “Brothers” details three Welsh-brothers navigating their way through the Civil War. Since the book has been published It has debuted No. 6 on Barnes & Noble’s Bestsellers.
“Up in flames or lost in time, the flag was forgotten about,” he said. “David’s heroic actions at Port Gibson were buried much like his ultimate fate.”
Union soldiers who captured Confederate flags during the Civil War were awarded the Medal of Honor. David’s captured flag was never seen again, since it was displayed at Portsmouth City Hall, David has been barred from receiving his posthumous Medal of Honor.
More information regarding the book “Brothers,” can be found on Barnesandnoble.com
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