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An incident of Stonewall Jackson's Valley campaign-capture of a flag by Maryland Confederates.

Compiled from original data by S. Z. Ammen.
During the retreat toward Winchester of the portion of Bank's army driven from Front Royal by a detachment of Jackson's advancing forces, consisting principally of the First Maryland Infantry and Wheat's Louisiana Battalion, on May 23d, 1862, there occurred in front of the stone house of Mr. Joshua A. McKay, on the Winchester [431] pike, about five miles north of Front Royal, a spirited combat between Confederates and Federals, which was witnessed by Miss Nannie A. McKay, and of which that young lady (now Mrs. John R. Rust), until recently possessed an interesting memorial in the shape of a captured Federal flag. The series of events that led to its capture, and its subsequent history, are of such interest as to merit record.

Late in the evening of the 23d, after the brush at Front Royal, a squad of some twenty of the retreating Federal First Maryland regiment having rallied in McKay's yard, were captured by two men of the Rappahannock company of the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, named Haddox and Field, who, undaunted by the disparity of numbers, boldly charged the enemy and demanded their surrender. The guns of their prisoners had hardly been stacked, when a force of about one hundred Federals, with the regimental flag, came up from the left, while at the same time a Federal officer with more men came charging down the pike from the direction of Winchester, calling out: ‘Rally round the flag, boys!’ Haddox seized one of the stacked guns and knocked the Federal officer from his horse, but was shot and killed a moment later by some of his prisoners, who, seeing their opportunity, seized their muskets and opened fire. Field was also killed. Both he and Haddox, it is stated, were killed while endeavoring to make the enemy understand that they yielded to overwhelming numbers. The remainder of the Rappahannock company, led by the gallant Grimsley, having worsted four or five times their numbers at Judge Robert McKay's, a half mile distant, now appeared on the scene, accompanied by Captain Baxter's Rockingham company of the same regiment of cavalry, and a portion of the Confederate First Maryland Infantry. They found the Federals drawn up in a strong line extending across the McKay orchard. Grimsley and Baxter charged them twice, and for a while the fighting was very bitter. The Rappahannock company alone in these two charges lost nineteen in killed and wounded, including Captain Baxter killed. The Maryland Federals were, however, at length driven from the orchard in great confusion. They were followed in hot pursuit by the Maryland Confederates, who captured their flag. Miss McKay had witnessed the bloody struggle from her father's front porch. She saw the Federal flag carried off by the retreating enemy, and was agreeably surprised when, soon afterwards, it was brought back and given to her by a soldier of the Maryland Confederate regiment, with the request that she would keep [432] it, and also his portfolio, which he took from his knapsack, until his return, or, should he not come back, would send his portfolio home to Maryland, and retain the flag, all of which Miss McKay agreed to do. He was accompanied by a comrade of the same command. Not many days afterward, and as Stonewall Jackson's army retreated up the Valley (to avoid being cut off by Fremont's and Shields' armies), the comrade of the soldier, who left the flag with Miss Mc-Kay, reappeared, and informed her that his companion, who he said was his brother, had been killed, and that he had come to claim the portfolio, offering the custody of the flag to Miss McKay, in accordance with his brother's wish. The arrangement being concluded, the soldier took his departure, but as neither of the brothers gave his name, Miss McKay (the present Mrs. Rust) has not since learned anything further concerning the identity of the two soldiers. This particular flag was the regulation flag of the First Maryland Federal regiment, and had been presented to that command at the Relay House (B. & O. R. R.) near Baltimore, as coming from certain ladies of Baltimore. Prior to the combat described above, the State flag carried by the Federal regiment had been taken by the First Maryland Confederate regiment at Front Royal, and divided up piecemeal among the captors. The flag entrusted to Miss McKay's hands in 1862, was in June, 1880, presented to General Bradley T. Johnson, on the occasion of the unveiling of the statue of the Maryland Confederate Soldier in the Stonewall Cemetery at Winchester, Virginia, and is now kept by the Association of the Maryland Line (Confederates) as an invaluable trophy. A handsome picture of the flag has been presented to Mrs. Rust by the Association, having the following printed description attached: ‘This flag was presented to Miss Nannie A. McKay, May 23, 1862, by a soldier of the First Maryland regiment, C. S. A., who had captured it in the Front Royal fight, of which she was a witness. She sacredly kept it until June 5, 1880, when at the unveiling of the Maryland statue at Winchester, Virginia, she, through her husband, Captain J. R. Rust, presented it to General Bradley T. Johnson, formerly Colonel of the First Maryland regiment, C S. A. This picture is presented to Mrs. Captain Rust by the Association of the Maryland Line as a testimonial of their respect and regard for her.’

The flag would probably still be resting in the custody of Mrs. Rust, but for its discovery by Captain Winfield Peters, of Baltimore, who was a private in the First Maryland Confederate regiment, and who made a personal appeal to the lady to present the [433] flag to General Johnson, as the representative of the victorious regiment. Mrs. Rust, although 10th to part with the treasured memento, at length consented, simply stipulating that she should receive a picture of it. The flag itself is made of silk, and was originally a fine piece of work, though now much tattered.

Immediately after the conflict in Mr. McKay's yard on the evening of May 23d, 1862, an incident occurred which is worth relating. A field officer of a Pennsylvania regiment was found by Mrs. McKay, secreted in her cellar. She captured the gallant Yankee, and finding him in a state of trepidation, took from him his ivory-mounted pistols and turned him over to the cavalry, while he pleaded for his life, and even offered her money, if she would allow him to escape.

Captain John R. Rust, the husband of Miss McKay, was a gallant soldier and officer in Ashby's cavalry, a relative of that splendid leader and one of his most trusted men.


the Association of the Maryland line, Baltimore, July 31st, 1884.
Mrs. Captain John R. Rust, Nineveh, Va:
My Dear Madam,—The Association of the Maryland Line have directed me to present to you the accompanying photograph of the flag of the First Maryland Federal Regiment as a testimonial of their respect and regard.

The original of this picture, so carefully preserved by you for so many years, will be kept among the records of the Maryland Line, and will bear testimony to our descendants of the fidelity of Virginia women to the cause we all loved so well.

Permit me to present to you and to my old comrade, your gallant husband, the assurances of the warmest esteem.

Your obedient servant,


Bradley T. Johnson, President Maryland Line.

To the above letter Mrs. Rust made a graceful acknowledgment, stating that the picture fulfilled all her expectations and desires, and would always be found hanging in the parlor of her Virginia home.

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