Confederate Powderworks flag to be replaced with more historically accurate one

By Kyle Martin
Staff Writer
Friday, Sept. 16, 2011

The vinyl “battle flag” on the side of the Confed­erate Powderworks chimney will be removed soon and replaced with a more historically accurate flag flying on a pole.

Ron Udell, the commander of Augusta’s Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp No. 158, confirmed Friday that the familiar red flag with white stars will be swapped for the first national flag of the Confederate States of America.

That national flag is identical to the Georgia state flag, but without the state seal within the ring of 13 stars in the upper left corner. Udell said the so-called Rebel flag was placed on the side of the monument during Confederate Memorial Week five years ago and has remained there since. The chimney is the only remaining original structure of the Confederate Powderworks, which produced more than 3 million pounds of gunpowder over three years of the Civil War.

The first national flag of the Confederacy bore a close similarity to the American flag, which caused confusion among Civil War troops trying to distinguish friend from foe in the haze of battle. The X-shaped bars with 13 stars for the 13 states of the Confederacy was adopted by the Army of Northern Virginia, and its use quickly spread among other Confederate troops.

Udell said members of the camp had been discussing changing the flag for the more historically accurate first national flag, which started with seven stars in its blue field and finished with 13 stars. Those plans were accelerated when a past commander was asked to change it by the Augusta Canal Authority, Udell said, adding that it was nothing “that was sprung upon us.”

Bob Woodhurst, the chairman of the canal authority, said Friday that authority members want the chimney to stay in its original state, without any embellishments. In its place, the first national flag will fly on a pole beside the monument.

The authority also plans to add bronze plaques and other historical markers around the chimney so its purpose is not forgotten. Woodhurst acknowledged the flag is considered a controversial symbol by some, but said the decision had nothing to with that. The decision was also made with the blessing of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“We want to preserve the history, we don’t want to create controversy. Things that happened need to be recorded,” Woodhurst said.

Udell echoed that statement.

“Historically, we want to do what’s right, and this would be the right thing,” he said.

The Augusta Chronicle ©2011.

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