This is the flag which guided Parham and his fellow 11th Mississippians through battle until captured 152 years ago on July 3, 1863 during Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg by Sergeant Ferdinando Maggi of the Garibaldi Guards, 39th New York Infantry. The flag is on display at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.
There has been much debate by media and special interest groups with respect to the meaning of this flag. Below lyrics to The Cross of the South written in 1861 by St. George Tucker were sung to the familiar tune The Star Spangled Banner. These words may provide insight on what original users of the flag on battle fields thought it meant. Did Parham sing this song?
- Oh! say can you see, through the gloom and the storm,
More bright for the darkness that pure Constellation!
Like the symbol of love and redemption its form,
As it points to the heaven of hope for the nation.
How radiant each star, as the beacon afar,
Giving promise of peace or assurance in war;
‘Tis the Cross of the South which shall ever remain
To light us to Freedom and glory again.
- How peaceful and blest was America’s soil.
Till betrayed by the guile of the Puritan demon,
Which lurks under virtue and springs from its coil,
To fasten its fangs in the life-blood of freemen.
Then boldly appeal to each heart that can feel,
And crush the foul viper ‘neath liberty’s heel,
And the Cross of the South shall in triumph remain
To light us to freedom and glory again.
- ‘Tis the emblem of peace, ’tis the day star of hope,
Like the sacred Labarum that guided the Roman
From the shores of the Gulf to the Delaware’s slope;
‘Tis the trust of the free and the terror of foeman.
Fling its folds to the air while we boldly declare
The rights we demand or the deeds that we dare,
While the Cross of the South shall in triumph remain
To light us to Freedom and Glory again.
- And if peace should be hopeless, and justice denied,
And war’s bloody vulture should flap its black pinions.
Then gladly to arms, while we hurl in our pride
Defiance to tyrants and death to their minions,
With our front in the field, swearing never to yield,
Or return, like the Spartan, in death on our Shield,
And the Cross of the South shall triumphantly wave
As the flag of the free and the pall of the brave.