Confederate banner used by Jeb Stuart goes to anonymous bidder
12:00 AM CST on Tuesday, December 5, 2006
By KATIE MENZER / The Dallas Morning News
Whoever bought Gen. Jeb Stuart’s Confederate battle flag last weekend wasn’t just whistling Dixie.
The anonymous bidder shelled out almost $1 million for the 150-year-old piece of charred and tattered cloth in Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries’ Civil War auction.
At least five people fought over the flag – which had an opening bid of $300,000 – during the auction held Friday and Saturday in Nashville.
The Civil War auction was the most lucrative of its kind in history, auction officials said. About 900 bidders spent more than $3.9 million on the auction’s 563 Civil War items.
Stuart’s flag, which was sewn by his wife and accompanied the famous cavalryman into battle, fetched $956,000. That price included the 19.5 percent buyer’s premium, the fee the buyer pays the auctioneer.
The flag was saved for posterity only by accident. The banner fell into a campfire by mistake, and Stuart sent it home to his wife to be mended. Char marks are visible on the flag.
Stuart’s gold spurs – a gift from a group of Confederate-supporting Baltimore women – also prompted bidders. The spurs sold for $119,500, including the premium.
And a lock of Stuart’s sandy brown hair was bought for $44,812. His wife, Flora, snipped it from his head on the night he died from battle wounds.
Although she had rushed to him through a rainstorm after hearing that he’d been hurt, she arrived too late to speak to him. Stuart died four hours before she arrived.
So don’t be too grossed out by the artifact – or the price paid for it.
"The story behind it is what added the pathos to it," said Tom Slater, Heritage’s director of acquisitions.
© 2006 The Dallas Morning News Co.