It states, "That banner is a precious relic of the Lost Cause. Many a brave man fell beneath its folds." In my search for more information about the banner, I visited the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park with daughter Sarah, and talked with Mr. Willie Johnson, Park Ranger/Historian. He graciously led us to the flag display and we quickly concluded that photographs online did not do it justice. We learned from Johnson that the flag was donated to the museum in 1956 by Milton McLain, grandson of John Tate, whose name is listed in Marlin's History of Cherokee County as a member of Phillips' Legion, Cavalry, Company C, "Cherokee Dragoons." We obtained a copy of the letter offering the flag to the park, and the description of the flag and its history matches the Dean narrative.
My curiosity about the wording of the name chosen for the Company led me to discover that dragoons were members of a European military unit composed of heavily armed, mounted troops. The wording of the motto used was suggested by Maj. Capers with the Military Institute in Marietta, a name familiar to historian Johnson. He relates that the motto "Either With It or Upon It" comes from ancient Sparta. It seems that a Spartan mother, who, on handing her son the shield he was to carry into battle, said that he was to come home from battle "either with it or upon it," either carrying it, or placed upon it in death.
In Marlin's history, some familiar names on the roster caught my eye. There was John Tate, of course. A couple of inquiries around town confirmed that he was well known in northern Cobb County, where there is still today a John Tate Road. Mark Paden, a name referred to numerous times in the history of Enon/Woodstock Baptist Church, is listed. E.C. Bennett, also with connections to Cobb County, was an early property owner in downtown Woodstock, and is listed on an 1883 deed to the property on the corner of Elm and Main streets. Ben McCollum is on the list, having joined the Company in 1862. His official papers are on file at Kennesaw Battlefield as well, and much of his own testimonial can be found in the Heritage of Cherokee County book. N.A. Fowler served in the Dragoons also. He would survive the war to become Woodstock's first mayor in 1897.
I was especially interested in learning that an ancestor of Alice Chamlee Booth, longtime Woodstock school teacher, was a part of the Dragoons. In the Heritage of Cherokee County, another descendant tells the story of George Washington Chamlee's late years, and his memories. When he was old and ill, he would suddenly remember he had left two "damn Yankees" tied to a tree and he felt that he had to go and turn them loose. He would insist on doing that, and someone would take him to find the place (near or in Grant's Park) and when he saw that the Yankees were gone, he was satisfied.
What a mix of characters for Company C. There are still mysteries. Did John Tate have the flag because he was the one who carried it? Who were the women who stitched it? Mr. McLain says, "It was made by the ladies of Cherokee (and maybe Cobb) County ... It is made of silk and hand embroidered with roses." He adds that the flag was displayed every year at Kennesaw when Phillips Legion had its annual reunion there.
Some of you may know much more than this about the Company and its banner. It's a piece of our history that bears commemoration, and I've enjoyed learning about it. I invite you to go to the mountain and have a look at the displays there. Objects take on new meaning when personal stories come to light.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock's official historian and the former director of the Woodstock Public Library.