Has Virginia been asking Minnesota to return a ‘blood-soaked, bullet-pierced’ flag for more than 100 years?

13 July 2023

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The 28th Virginia battle flag was captured by the Minnesota First Volunteer Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. When a 1905 congressional resolution was passed requiring captured flags be returned to the governors of former seceded states and border states who supplied regiments to the Confederate Army, the scarred square red flag with a blue saltire and white stars was not returned to the governor of Virginia.

For more than 100 years, Virginia has been asking that Minnesota return it, according to a St. Paul Pioneer Press report. Various groups have requested for its return in 1961, 2000, 2003, and 2013. In 1998, Virginia Civil War reenactors threatened legal action over the flag. Each time Minnesota has refused. When, in 2000, Virginia legislators asked once again that it be returned, Gov. Jesse Ventura said, “Absolutely not. Why? I mean, we won.”

The flag is part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s permanent collection today.

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Twin Cities Minnesota has a Confederate symbol — and it is going to keep it
PBS Returned Flags Booklet, 1905 | A State Divided
Chicago Tribune Ventura won’t give flag back to Virginia
Washington Post Capture the Flag

Jayne Williamson-Lee is a freelance science journalist who is part of MinnPost’s fact briefs team.

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