Buy America Flags – Story of ”The Old Glory” and Captain Driver
Captain William Driver was the Master of the vessel “Salem” in 1831. As a young boy he ran away from home and became a helping hand on a ship. Later as a young man of 21 he became a qualified Master Mariner and received command of his own vessel. The stories vary in relation to how the name evolved. The one account says that friends presented him with a hand sewn flag of 24 stars. As the flag unfurled he is said to have exclaimed “Old Glory!”
Captain Driver retired to Nashville in 1837 where he lived and displayed the flag. When the various States ceded from the Union then Nashville became a target and the Confederates later captured the town. They looked for the flag to destroy it but without success despite many searches.
The fortunes reversed and the Unionists retook Nashville in 1862 and raised the Union flag. Apparently this flag was small and someone inquired whether the Captain still had the 24 star “Old Glory”. He went home and emerged with it, the secret being revealed that the flag had been sewn inside his bed quilt all that time. The flag was duly raised and saluted in the presence of a gathering of soldiers in lieu of the smaller ensign that they had originally had used.
Captain Driver died and was buried in the cemetery in Nashville City Cemetery. Apparently through an act of Congress his grave is one of 3 places in the USA where the flag is to be flown continuously every day 24/7. The flag was later passed on to one of his descendants who donated it to the Smithsonian Institute.
As another part of the account history states that the original flag was sewn by his mother together with some female admirers to present to him just before he embarked on his nautical voyages. The flag it is said was flown as he went to places such as China, The South Pacific and India. During these voyages it is said that he took on board the survivors of HMS Bounty and delivered them to Pitcairn Island.
He returned after his voyages and retired with most of his family in Nashville. Here his wife died and he remarried and had several more children. He flew the large “Old Glory” on special occasions before the Civil war commenced. When it did there and the Confederates came there a few attempts to wrest the flag from him to and to destroy it, he resisted placing his own person before the Confederate soldiers. He prevailed and the secreted flag survived even to today, it is safely in an institution.
The saga was made more complicated and intriguing due to family differences and internal politics. Two family descendants claimed to have an “Old Glory” separately. These emerged as to be known as “The Peabody Flag” and “The Roland Flag” These were both evaluated by Conversationalists who determined that the larger Roland Flag had a stronger claim as its appearance was more in line with a flag that had been flown at sea for some time. Both flags were attributed as being from the same point in time and source and/or origins. The determinations also said that this did not diminish the significance of the Peabody flag because it was almost certain that Captain Driver would have had more than one flag. And so completed a saga in dramatic finale of part of the History of the American flag and the US Civil war.