Grant’s burial flag at Eola Hotel

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 23, 1999

The Civil War battle flag of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant has a new home in the deep South – at the Radisson Natchez Eola Hotel.

How did a flag belonging to America’s top Yankee get to Natchez?

Bob Dean, owner of the Eola, obtained the Grant Flag at auction in Atlanta three to four months ago.

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Placed on display in the lobby of the Eola two weeks ago, the flag is an authentic Civil War battle flag that followed Gen. U.S. Grant throughout the war.

&uot;That flag … was his burial flag when he died,&uot; Dean said. &uot;That flag was at the surrender of Lee’s army.&uot;

Following the war, the flag reappeared when it was used as Grant’s burial flag and was draped over his grave in 1885.

Accompanying documentation says that the flag was then given to Mrs. Mary Virginia Pinkerton Thompson.

Thompson was a little girl during the Civil War whose father was an employee of the War Department and whose mother was a cousin of Abraham Lincoln. Thompson was, in fact, famous for having fallen asleep in President Lincoln’s lap as a small child.

Upon her death, the flag passed on to her son, L. O. Thompson of Newport, Ky.

Dean said he bought the flag from the estate of Grant’s granddaughter.

As for the prominent display of the Yankee flag in the deep South, Dean said purchasing Grant’s flag was simply an opportunity to touch history.

&uot;I was incredibly lucky to get that flag – it’s a true museum piece,&uot; Dean said.

&uot;Natchez was a neutral city during the war. It wasn’t Yankee or Confederate.&uot;

Dean regrets missing an opportunity to obtain a pistol belonging to Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard.

&uot;There were other artifacts available around that time,&uot; he said. &uot;I just missed Beauregard’s pistol by a day or two.&uot;

Dean said he is still on the lookout for an important Confederate artifact to balance the display.

&uot;I thought after I bought it that it probably should have been a Confederate flag since I’m from the South, but it was meant to be,&uot; he said.