The Rappahannock Old Guard
The Black Flag
More than 1,000 Rappahannock County men fought for the Confederacy. Many were mustered into service here in Washington.
The Rappahannock Old Guard (Co. B, 6th Virginia Cavalry), which carried an unusual dark battle flag, played an important role in the final action of the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862. As the Federals under Union Col. John R. Kenly retreated up the Winchester Turnpike (present-day U.S. Route 522), Confederate Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson shouted at Col. Thomas S. Flournoy, "They have 2 piece of artillery; go and take them." Flournoy led a fast pursuit.
As Flournoy closed in north of Cedarville, Kenly ordered his gunners to stop and fire, but they continued to retreat. Union Capt. George Smith reported that "a wild shout was heard, and rebel cavalry came dashing into our line, cutting right and left, showing no quarter, displaying a black flag"—a traditional sign that no prisoners would be taken.
Confederate Capt. Daniel A. Grimsley's Co. B led the dash, flying its dark flag. Flournoy reported that "Co. B was first upon the enemy & charged most gallantly thru their line, breaking them
When it became known that Co. B's dark banner had been misinterpreted as a black flag, it was retired, having been carried into battle only once. The Museum of the Confederacy has the original flag.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 23, 1862.
Location. 38° 42.858′ N, 78° 8.83′ W. Marker is near Washington, Virginia, in Rappahannock County. Marker is at the intersection of Library Road (County Road 683) and Old Mill Road (County Road 683), on the left when traveling east on Library Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3 Library Rd, Washington VA 22747, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Rappahannock County in the Civil War (here, next to this marker); Rappahannock People Before and During the Civil War (here, next to this marker); Charles C. Nordendorf (here, next to this marker); Union Army of Virginia 2nd (Banks's) Corps Encampment
Credits. This page was last revised on May 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 10, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 222 times since then and 86 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 10, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.