Rough Riders’ flag a symbol of postbellum reunification?

 “They were about to leave without an American flag. Personally, it’s the  first thing I would have packed,” Matthew Krahn, historian at the Arizona  Capitol Museum Guild, told an audience of about two dozen people Wednesday  afternoon.

Krahn’s history lesson was a part of an annual tradition where the Rough  Rider’s flag is displayed during a ceremony at the museum. Typically, the flag is unveiled to little pomp, but Arizona’s upcoming centennial celebration  changed that. This year, the Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association, a  living history group, was invited to a re-enactment ceremony.

One of the re-enactors represented a seamstress for the Women’s Relief Corps  of Phoenix, who worked all night to make the almost forgotten flag.

The Rough Riders took a train across the Deep South to their deployment site in Tampa, Fla. Krahn said the Civil War, which had ended in 1865, had not been  forgotten.

“The flag and the Rough Riders acted as a unification between the North and South,” Krahn said.

— “Rough Riders’ flag a piece of Ariz. history,” Caitlin Cruz, Washington Examiner, 1/14/2012

I’m not so sure I would subscribe to Krahn’s interpretation. The Rough Riders were part of a US cavalry division under the command of ex-Confederate General Joseph Wheeler. (Wheeler is seen at front left in the Wikimedia photo above, standing to the left of Leonard Wood and Teddy Roosevelt.) During the excitement of the cavalry division’s engagement with Spanish forces at the Battle of Las Guasimas in 1899, Wheeler supposedly lost track of who was fighting, exclaiming, “Let’s go, boys! We’ve got the damn Yankees on the run again!”

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