Flag: 4th Alabama Infantry (Co. C, Magnolia Cadets)
This flag was made in Selma, Alabama, by Miss Elodie Todd and Martha Todd White, the half sisters of Mary Todd Lincoln. Elodie Todd later married the captain of the Magnolia Cadets, N. H. R. Dawson of Selma. The flag was apparently sewn by the ladies, who may have also done the reverse of the flag which bears an appliqued Christian cross and eight stars. The obverse of the flag is painted and bears the inscription "Magnolia Cadets, 1861" surrounded by a wreath of magnolia leaves. The painting is signed "W. H. Arnold, Selma, Ala." William H. Arnold was a flag painter who lived in Charleston, S. C. Dawson may have become familiar with Arnold's work while he was in Charleston during the 1860 Democratic Convention. Additionally, Dawson was born in Charleston and had numerous family connections there.
The flag was presented to the company at Watts' Hall in Selma on April 24, 1861. It was presented by James Averytt on behalf of the ladies of Selma and was received by 2nd Lt. S. Newton McCraw. The company soon departed for Dalton, Georgia, where they were to be formed with other companies into a regiment. On April 28, as they entered Atlanta, the flag staff was accidently broken, but as Captain Dawson explained in a letter to Elodie, the flag was "uninjured." Later that evening, the flag once again drew attention, whereupon Dawson remarked to the crowd that the flag had been the creation of two ladies who were "related to the hostess of of the White House." At Dalton, the Magnolia Cadets were designated Co. C, 4th Alabama Infantry and sent with their regiment to Virginia. The flag was used for the last time during a dress parade at Harpers Ferry in June 1861. When the 4th was brigaded under Bernard Bee, all of the company flags with the exception of that of the Marion Light Infantry were turned over to company officials.
Following his resignation on April 21, 1862, Captain Dawson returned to Alabama and apparently brought the flag home at that time. His son, Henry, of Minter, Alabama, donated the flag to the Alabama Department of Archives and History on June 24, 1903. A newspaper article dated June 6, 1903, reported the flag was in the "most excellent condition of preservation."
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Revised: October 25, 2006