Mrs. John C. Breckinridge, who was at the headquarters of her husband much of the time, owned a “a handsome silk dress.” She vividly remembered having worn it at a state dinner in Washington when her husband was vice-president of the United States. That dress, she decided after many months at the front, would make a spectacular flag.
Formally presented to the Twentieth Tennessee Regiment, the flag of a Confederate general’s wife was first exposed to gunfire at Hoover’s Gap, Tennessee, in June 1863. Color bearer Ben Yeargin died that day and both Wallace Evans and Johnny Fly were wounded by gunfire directed at the emblem they carried. Three more color bearers were wounded at Chickamagua.
Finally, at Jonesboro, Georgia, every member of the color guard responsible for “the Mrs. Breckinridge flag” was killed or wounded. Wounded men not taken prisoner soon saw their general’s wife headed toward them, her arms filled with lint and bandages.