Rebel Banner Unlikely to Return; Minnesota Won't Yield Flag

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Bellantoni, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Minnesota officials yesterday rejected a Virginia request for the return of a Confederate flag taken by Union troops during the Battle of Gettysburg.

"The flag will remain in Minnesota and will be held by the [state] Historical Society on behalf of the people of Minnesota, and that is not going to change," said Patrick McCormack, deputy director of the society. "We have a clear legal right to possess the flag."

Virginia officials had asked the U.S. Army's Center of Military History to persuade Minnesota to return the flag, but a spokesman for the center said Virginia will need to fight its own battle.

"We pretty much don't have any legal grounds," said Lt. Col. Michael Bigelow, executive officer of the center.

Col. Bigelow said Virginia needs to make the next move to retrieve the 140-year-old flag and encouraged Gov. Mark Warner and the state's congressional delegation to work directly with Minnesota.

"That's what it's going to take. It's too emotional of an issue," he said.

Mr. Warner has traditionally steered clear of issues involving either side of the Civil War.

But Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls said that since learning of the issue the governor has said he is willing to have communication with the necessary officials to get the matter resolved.

Miss Qualls said Mr. Warner plans to have an informal conversation with Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the National Governors Association meeting this month. Mr. Warner, a Democrat, will become chairman of the group during that meeting.

Mr. Warner will then start official correspondence on the matter, if that is appropriate, Miss Qualls said. …