Above image from Flags of the Confederacy.
The first flag carried by the 1st Tennessee was of First National Pattern. Presented by Georgina Foster to Co. B of the Rock City Guards Battalion, which provided Co.'s A, B and C of this regiment, on 8 May 1861, it measured 83 inches on the fly by 35.5 inches on the hoist. Its obverse field consisted of two red wool/cotton mixture horizontal bars, and a white all cotton central bar. Its rectangular dark blue cotton canton contained a neat circle of eight white, five-pointed polished cotton stars, with a ninth star of the same material and composition set in the lower fly corner of the canton. The latter suggests that the makers intended to add further stars to the remaining corners, as further states joined the Confederacy. The leading edge of this flag was doubled over and sewn, to form a sleeve through which ran a cord, which was looped at each end and originally attached to a staff.
[Collection of the Tennessee State Museum, Object No. B2,58,1]
This flag. was captured from the 1st Tennessee during a Federal ambush at Cheat Mountain on 12 September 1861 by Captain J.D.P.A.M. Chauncey of the 13th Indiana infantry. Preserved after the war by the Chauncey family, it was donated to the Tennessee State Museum in 1982 by Mrs Franklin C. Goode, granddaughter of Captain Chauncey.
[Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. XLVII (Winter 1988), No. 4, Flags of the Rock City Guards by Devereaux D. Cannon, Jr., pp. 195.]
The second regimental flag carried by the 1st Tennessee is presumed to be a "Polk" pattern battle flag held today in the collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Measuring 52.5 inches on the fly by 28 inches on the hoist, its dark blue bunting field is quartered with an upright red bunting cross, edged with white cotton and decorated with eleven white five-pointed stars. It was probably presented in the Spring of 1862 when this regiment was assigned to the First Corps, Army of the Mississippi, under the command of General Leonidas Polk, the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana. This flag is reputed to have been captured off the 1st Tennessee at the Battle of Perryville on 8 October 1862 by the 1st Wisconsin Volunteers.
After the Battle of Perryville the 1st Tennessee, in November or December 1862, received a new flag, which follows the overall measurements and construction techniques of other surviving Polk Corps pattern flags. It was made of silk and measuring 55 inches approx. on the fly by 30½ inches on the hoist. Like their previous one, it was based on the "Polk" pattern with a 7½ inch red upright cross on dark blue field. However, it was modified, probably after it was issued. Instead of plain white cotton border, the cross is edged with white stitched cotton trimmed with gold. Even more unusual are two "waves" of the same design and material, which begin under the two outer-most stars on the horizontal bar, arch up and over clusters of three stars, and then curve down, almost meeting below the centre star. The left wave probably had the battle honors "Perryville" and the right may have had that of "Shiloh". Each of the surviving ten stars is white edged with gold, and measures 3 inches across the points. At the bottom of the cross, where one might expect another star to be found, is an 8 inch high red cotton patch on which 7 inch inverted crossed cannon are painted black (very faint in the photo). The crossed cannons was a battle honour used by Maney's Brigade after the Battle of Peryville for the capture of Parson's 4th U.S. Artillery battery of 12-pounder Napoleons. Added to the flag at the top of the cross is a 3 inches wide white cotton strip with the unit designation 1ST REGT TENN in black block capitals edged with gold. This flag was secured to the staff by four dark blue ties, whilst the remains of a white streamer approximately 2.5 inches wide with FIRST TENNESSEE INFANTRY in black block letters was attached next to the top tie. The First Tennessee fought under this banner at the battles of Murfreesboro, Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, It was retired in the Spring of 1864 and is now in the collection of the Tennessee State Museum.
The flag is in poor condition today, and approximately seven inches of the fly are missing, which would account for the absence of the eleventh star. In the early 1960s the Civil War Centennial Commission began a flag restoration effort. The First Tennessee flag was then backed with fabric and covered with layers of colored nylon net, fixed with rows of machine zigzag stitching sewn over the entire flag. This encapsulation kept fragments of the flag within the net, but made examination of the flag impossible. In 1999, museum volunteers spent many hours removing the old restoration method, stitch by stitch. The flag is ready to be sent to a professional conservator for analysis and treatment.
[Collection of the Tennessee State Museum, Object No. 73.22.]
During December 1863, General Joseph E. Johnston assumed direct command of the Army of Tennessee as a result of General Braxton Bragg's failure at Chattanooga. As part of his plan for reorganisation to strengthen the morale and efficiency of that army, Johnston commenced the issuance of a uniform battle flag to replace the half-dozen or so different designs in service. The new flags, issued by the quartermaster department probably during March/April 1864, were similar to those used by the Army of Northern Virginia, except that they were rectangular rather than square in shape and did not have the white border found on the Eastern version. The Army of Tennessee flag had average dimensions of 36 inches in width by 52 inches in length.
The flag issued to the 1st Tennessee at this time unfortunately did not survive, and upon the surrender of the regiment at Greensboro, North Carolina, was described as "so bullet-riddled and torn that it was but a few blue and red shreds." [Sam R. Watkins, Co. Aytch, New York, 1962, pp. 244.] However, it was almost certainly of the above ANV pattern, and may well have influenced the quite definite design of the flag which appeared in the woodcut in Mountain Campaigns in Georgia by Joseph M. Brown in 1890, complete with thirteen stars, unit designation, "Perryville" battle honour and "cross cannon inverted." Presumably the artist responsible for its rendition had forgotten about its 1864 origin! [Copy of woodcut in Ronald H. Bailey, et al., The Civil War Battles for Atlanta, Time Life Books, 1985. pp. 73 & 173.]