|Note: this is the first in a new series where I share information on things I’ve been researching, but don’t yet have enough to write a full blown article. I’m hoping someone reading will be able to provide other information, or even pick up the ball and run with it themselves. – Mark
The First Flag of the Republic
|Whenever I mention the Zavala flag, someone is bound to inform me that it never existed. Or that yes, Lorenzo de Zavala designed a flag, but we have no idea what it looked like.
I’ve always had a problem with this, given that the design and name have such a long association. The idea didn’t just fall out of the sky. The design also appeared on the back of Republic of Texas “red back” currency.
So where did it come from?
Allow me to present two pieces of evidence that have been overlooked.
First, there is the deposition of Juan Reyes, who was one of the Soldados captured at San Jacinto. He and three companions escaped and made their way back to Mexico before Filisola and the rest of the army. (Hat tip to Dr. Gregg Dimmick for mentioning this at the San Jacinto Symposium a couple years ago.)
In his deposition to the Mexican Government, Reyes reported:
“The enemy carried two flags: one with the America (woman) painted white with a blue ribbon, the other all blue with a big star in the middle and many little ones, all white.”
From a distance and in the heat of battle, it would be very easy to think the letters between the points of the star on the Zavala flag were smaller stars.
Second, there is a notice that appeared in the April 10, 1869 edition of the Houston Times. It read:
“The first Lone Star flag was made by Mrs. Zavalla (sic), the wife of President Zavalla (sic). It was taken to Galveston on the morning of January 1, 1863, by the late William Gammell, and was lost at Virginia Point. If anyone is in possession of this valuable relic they should deliver it to the old veterans at San Jacinto, on the 21st inst.”
So maybe it would more proper to call it the Mrs. Zavala flag.
William Gammell was a private in Wyley’s company which was part of Sherman’s Second Regiment of volunteers, which formed the Texian left at San Jacinto. He was a gunsmith and settled in Lynchburg.
Virginia Point is where the railroad bridge to Galveston leaves the mainland. On the morning of January 1, 1863, it was where General Magruder staged his troops for the Battle of Galveston.
Hope you find this interesting.
If you have any information that would flesh out this story further, I’d love to hear from you.