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Origin of the banner of the “Lone Star,” and the Coat of arms of Texas.

By John C. Butler, Macon, Ga.
To the honor of one of the fairest daughters of Georgia is the State of Texas indebted for its peculiarly appropriate Coat of Arms — The Lone Star. The sympathies of many Southern cities were aroused in behalf of Texas in her struggle against Mexico for independence as a separate Republic. The cries of our fellow-citizens of Texas, calling for help against the advancing and overwhelming forces of Santa Anna, the tyrant and oppressor, reached Georgia early in November, 1835. A public meeting of the citizens of Macon was held on November the 12th, and was addressed by several distinguished gentlemen in advocacy of the claims of Texas upon the people of the United States for aid in their struggle for independence. Among the speakers on this occasion was Lieutenant Hugh McLeod, who had just returned from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He made a soulstirring appeal, pledging himself “to resign his commission and embark as a volunteer.” He said “that Texas needed soldiers, and not resolutions; that we should tender her our persons and our arms on the contested field, and that these would best express our sympathies in her behalf.” Mr. William Ward, of Macon, proposed to organize a company of infantry to enlist in the army of Texas, whereupon thirty-two men came forward and enrolled their names as volunteers. The citizens, before the meeting adjourned, subscribed $3,150 to the equipment and other expenses of the company.

As the company passed through Knoxville and Columbus, Ga., more recruits were enrolled.

At Knoxville Miss Joanna E. Troutman (late Mrs. Vinson, of Crawford county, and daughter of the late venerable Hiram B. Troutman, of Macon, Ga.,) made a handsome banner of white silk, with a single blue star of azure upon it, and sent it to Lieutenant McLeod, to present to the company at Columbus.

The following is a copy of the letter acknowledging the receipt of the banner: [220]

Columbus, Ga., Nov. 23d, 1835.
Miss Joanna:
Colonel Ward brought your handsome and appropriate flag as a present to the Georgia Volunteers in the cause of “Texas and Liberty.” I was fearful, from the shortness of the time, that you would not be able to finish it as tastefully as you would wish; but I assure you, without an emotion of flattery, that it is beautiful, and with us its value is enhanced by the recollection of the donor.

I thank you for the honor of being made the medium of presentation to the company, and if they are what every true Georgian ought to be, your flag shall yet wave over fields of Victory in defiance of Despotism. I hope the proud day may soon arrive, and while your star presides none can doubt of success.

Very respectfully, your friend,


This patriotic banner was the first one ever made in Crawford county, and was, in the history of the rising Republic of Texas, renowned as being the first flag of the “Lone Star” that was unfurled upon its soil.

Having secured the enlistment of more volunteers, Ward proceeded to Texas, where they organized according to regulations, as they were not permitted to organize in the limits of the United States. A battalion of three companies was formed, consisting in all of one hundred and twenty muskets. After several successful engagements with the Mexicans, they joined the command of Colonel Fannin, and formed a regiment by the election of Fannin, Colonel, and Ward, Lieutenant-Colonel. The regiment numbered four hundred and fifty men, and was stationed at Fort Goliad. After the massacre of the heroic Americans at Alamo, which was the Thermopylae of Texas, Santa Anna dispatched General Urrea, with a large force, towards the Mission of Refugio. Colonel Fannin, hearing of the advance of the Mexicans upon that unprotected point, sent Captain King, with thirty-six men, to remove some families resident there to a place of safety. King, after a successful skirmish with some Mexican cavalry, was surrounded by a large force and compelled to surrender. Six hours after, he and his men were shot, by the command of Urrea. No tidings having arrived from King, Fannin dispatched a larger detachment, consisting of Colonel Ward's original battalion, towards Refugio. This battalion, under Ward, fought two bloody battles with the enemy, in [221] the first of which he was victorious. The Mexicans were reinforced to the extent of fourteen hundred men, and intercepted Ward as he retired to the church at Refugio. Breastworks were made by the battalion, of pews, gravestones, fences, etc., and the fire of the enemy resisted for two days.

The ammunition of the battalion was exhausted on the third day of the battle, when Ward was compelled to capitulate, signing the regular articles according to the rules of war. It was stipulated that the prisoners would be returned to the United States in eight days.

The Mexicans were again reinforced, and advanced upon Goliad, taking their prisoners with them. Colonel Fannin had become near about exhausted in provisions and ammunition. His command was reduced to two hundred and twenty-six men, and no tidings received from Colonel Ward. He, therefore, concluded to destroy the fort and cut his way through to General Houston's army, one hundred and thirty miles distant on the Colorado river. On the 18th of March, 1836, he evacuted the fort and commenced a retreat. In the afternoon of the same day he was met by the Mexican cavalry, and a large force of infantry. Forming his little band into a hollow square he resisted all the charges of the enemy until night. The loss of the Mexicans was six hundred, and that of the Texans sixty-seven. On the following morning General Urrea received a reinforcement of five hundred fresh troops with a supply of artillery. A surrender became unavoidable, a white flag was hoisted by the Texans, and terms of capitulation were agreed upon by both Mexican and Texan commanders. The terms provided that Fannin and his men should be marched to Fort Goliad and treated as prisoners of war; that the volunteers from the United States should be sent to New Orleans at the expense of the Mexican government; and that private property, and side arms of officers, should be respected and restored.

Notwithstanding the terms of capitulation, the Texan army was deprived of every article of defense, even to their pocket-knives, and served with an allowance of food hardly sufficient to support life. At this time Ward's battalion was joined to the other prisoners, amounting in all to four hundred men. After being detained a week, orders were received from Santa Anna for the execution of all of the prisoners. On the morning of the 27th of March this horrible outrage was consummated. The prisoners, under a strong Mexican guard, were marched out in four divisions. The guard was stationed upon each side of the road, and as the prisoners proceeded in file, a fire of musketry was opened upon them, and those who escaped the bullets were cut down [222] by the sabres of the cavalry. But four men escaped who belonged to the Georgia battalion, and eight of their other comrades in the regiment.

While these events were occurring, a general convention of delegates assembled at Washington, on the Brazos, to consider the question whether Texas should continue to struggle for a Republican government of her own. On the 2nd of March the convention unanimously adopted a declaration of independence; and, on the 17th of the same month, a constitution was adopted, and executive officers appointed to perform the duties of the government until the first election under the constitution.

On the morning of the 21st of April, the Texan army, numbering but seven hundred and eighty-three effective men, under General Houston, confronted the Mexican army, numbering one thousand six hundred men on the San Jacinto river. With the exception of two pieces of cannon, not a gun was fired by the Texans until they were within musket range of the enemy's lines, when the war-cry, “Remember the Alamo and Goliad” was raised. Such was the suddenness and fury of the Texans, that the Mexicans, under Santa Anna, threw down their arms and fled in confusion from the incessant shower of bullets that fell upon them, while the Texan cavalry, under Colonel Mirabeau B. Lamar, pursued the fugitives, cutting them down by hundreds. Of their one thousand six hundred men the enemy lost in killed six hundred and thirty, wounded two hundred and eight, while seven hundred and eight were made prisoners. On the day following the battle Santa Anna was captured, disguised in common apparel, with his camp equipage and valuable silver service. The glorious effect of this battle gave to Texas peace, and the rank of an independent Republic among the nations of the earth.

When Ward's battalion arrived in Texas, early in January, 1836, bearing the banner of the “Lone Star” the Texan army had just hoisted their first flag, which consisted of a plain white field with a red sword upon it, held in a soldier's hand. After the independence of Texas and her recognition as a Republic, an interesting account of the origin of the “Lone Star State,” as applied to the young Republic, was published by a gallant officer in the Galveston News, as follows:

The flag of the Lone Star that was first unfurled in Texas was that borne by the Georgia battalion, commanded by the late Lieutenant-Colonel Ward, who, with almost his entire command, was massacred at Goliad in the spring of 1836, in what is known as “ Fannin's Massacre,” [223] he being next in command to the lamented Colonel James W. Fannin.

The flag was presented to Colonel Ward's command, after they passed through Knoxville, Crawford county, Georgia, by the fairest daughter of the State--the beautiful, gifted and highly accomplished Miss Joanna E. Troutman.

It was made of plain white silk, bearing an azure star of five points on either side. On one side was the inscription, in rich but chaste colors, “Liberty or death!” and on the other the patriotic Latin motto, ‘Ubi Libertas habitat, ibi nostra patria est.’

The flag was first unfurled at Velasco on the 8th of January, 1836, and proudly floated to the breeze from the same liberty-pole with the first “Flag of Independence,” which had just been brought from Goliad by the valorous Captain William Brown, who subsequently performed such daring and effective service in the navy of Texas.

There is something singularly romantic in the history of these two flags. The “Flag of Independence” came from Goliad, where it was first hoisted, just in time to be flung to the breeze from the same staff with the beautiful “Banner of the single Star,” on the occasion of its being first unfurled in Texas.

Proudly they floated together. The crimson-dyed sword, in fearful aspect, grasped in a sinewy hand, waved boldly over the placid star as it reposed on its broad field of virgin white, as if to emblematize the chivalric vow of a gallant knight-errant to his lady love, “Thee will I protect, wherever thou goest.”

What became of the “Flag of Independence,” we know not; but the beautiful star of azure was borne by Colonel Fannin's regiment to Goliad, and there gracefully floated from the same tall staff which first bore the blood-red sword that waved over, as if to protect it at Velasco. On the 8th of March, 1836, an express arrived at Goliad, from Washington, on the Brazos, officially announcing that the Convention then in session had formally made solemn declaration that Texas was no longer a Mexican province, but a free and independent Republic within itself. On the receipt of this thrilling, this glorious intelligence, the greatest demonstrations of joy were made at the fort — loud and spirit-stirring strains of martial and patriotic music, from “trumpet, fife and drum,” resounded through the “ancient confines of the fortress,” and the shadowy aisles of the venerable chapel of La Bahia. Amid the roar of artillery, the beautiful “Banner of the Lone Star” was hoisted to the top of the identical flag-staff which first bore the broad [224] ensign of that political independence, the glad tidings of the declaration of which, by a general convention of the people's representatives there assembled, had just been received. It proudly streamed over the hoary ramparts and time shattered battlements of the antiquated fortress of La Bahia, until the last rays of the setting sun were casting their “lessening light” against the gay turrets of the old chapel. Just as the “sunset gun” thundered forth its hoarse announcement of departing day, the usual attempt to ‘lower the colors’ was being made, when, by some unlucky mishap, the beautiful silken banner entangled in the halyards, and was torn into pieces. Only a small fragment remained adjusted to the flagstaff, and when Colonel Fannin evacuated Goliad to join General Houston, in accordance with received orders, the last remnant of the first “Flag of the Lone Star” was still fluttering at the top of the staff from which first floated the “Flag of Independence.”

At the defeat and capture of Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto the silver service of the wily commander was also captured, and some of the trophies of the victory, consisting of his massive spoons, forks, etc., were forwarded by General Rusk to Miss Troutman “in token of the regard she had inspired in the hearts of the stern,, scarred patriots of the revolution as they gazed upon the virgin ground and lone blue star of the flag she had wrought, and which had led on many of their brave compatriots to death, themselves to victory.”

On the meeting of the first Congress the flag of the Lone Star was adopted as the flag of the republic, and the seals of office were required to have the “Star” upon them, which then became the Coat-of-Arms of Texas.

A public recognition of the first flag of the Lone Star as having been brought to Texas by Ward's battalion from Georgia was made by General Memucan Hunt, the first minister from the Republic of Texas to the United States.

In February, 1845, a bill in favor of the annexation of Texas passed the United States Congress and was signed by the President. On the 4th of July following a convention assembled at Austin, the Texan capital, and assented to the terms proposed by the United States. A State Government was immediately formed, and henceforth the history of Texas is merged in that of the United States.

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