Battle flag could cost $48,000 to restore
Benefit Saturday is on farm owned by descendants of Confederate officer

By Bonnie Burch • THE TENNESSEAN • August 4, 2009

FRANKLIN — For Ronny Mangrum’s 53rd birthday, he’s wishing for some cash to save a Civil War-era battle flag.

And he’s inviting all music lovers, history buffs and motorcyclists to celebrate at his Peytonsville Road farm Saturday evening for the fourth annual Confederate Flag benefit.

If you want to know a secret, it’s not even close to the actual date of Mangrum’s birth. He uses the event as a good excuse to get a cause close to his heart onto the table with a big blowout party.

"My birthday is Feb. 17. But you can’t have an outside thing in February," he said.

Money collected from admission will all go to the preservation of a huge 6-by-9-foot silk First National Confederate flag of the 20th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, which consisted of young men and boys from all over Williamson County and formed in 1861. This flag was retired in 1863 and is stored by the Tennessee State Museum.

"The museum has a large collection of battle flags that need conservation. But of course, money is tight. So they let you pick out a flag and adopt it. They keep it there, but they allow you to take care of it," Mangrum said.

Mangrum chose the flag that two of his relatives, Wiley P. Mangrum and Capt. Patrick Gibson Smithson, fought under. It is one of the largest in the collection. Preservation, making sure the colors don’t fade and the fabric doesn’t tatter, is estimated to cost $48,000. Mangrum said his "birthday" party and other fundraisers have raised about half that amount.

The Mangrum farm also supports the antebellum home Smithson built in 1832.

Nationally known historian Thomas Cartwright, the former director of the Carter House in Franklin for more than two decades, will speak on the bloody Battle of Franklin in 1864. Cartwright has promised to make his singing debut as well.

In addition, there will be an eclectic selection of live music by such bands as the Leiper’s Fork Bluegrass Band, rock music from Phoenix Rising, along with blues and Southern rock from the Jimmy Hall & The Prisoners of Love. Hall was the front man for Wet Willie in the 1970s and tours with Hank Williams Jr. and others. There also will be four other bands and special surprise musical guests included in the show.

Sponsored by S & G Custom Cycles of Columbia, the event also features a silent auction of items including a Charlie Daniels autographed fiddle and a Rascal Flatts signed guitar, NASCAR items such as sheet metal from Michael and Darryl Waltrip’s racecars, Harley items and more. There will be food available, vendors, a mechanical bull to ride and a free caricature artist.

Attendees can bring lawn chairs and their favorite beverages. Free camping is available. But all attendees must be at least 21 years old. No glass bottles are allowed.

Copyright © 2009 The Tennessean

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