The Legend of Ann E. Fickle & Quantrill's Black Flag.

The strength behind Southern soldiers was without doubt the Southern women who protected them, defended them, supported them, clothed them, fed them and nursed their wounds in guerrilla hospitals deep in the woods away from prying Union spies and patrols.  Guerrilla Captain William H. Gregg said that from the start of the war the part played by the women of the South exceeds in self sacrificing glory that of the men.  He continued by saying they were noble.  Christian and Godlike, amidst the perils and dangers which confronted them during the war.  The image below is of the comely Ann E. Fickle.                                                                           

One woman of which little is known but legends have been written about was one Ann E. Fickle simply known as Annie.  Annie Fickle’s Southern sympathy brought her into trouble.  She was one of the most daring of young Southern women sympathizers.  Annie Fickle was a girl, twenty-years old who, when the war began, lived in Lafayette County, Missouri, near what is now the town of Odessa.  Armed men of either side, sometimes in companies of two or three or more, sometimes alone, rode up and down the country seeking each other with hostile intent, and fighting at every crossroads.  In the midst of it all went Annie Fickle, flitting about hither and thither, sometimes like an angel of mercy ministering to some sick or wounded friend in concealment, sometimes boldly playing the spy on the enemy.  It was all kind with her; anything to assist the men of the south.  Annie's older brother was a private in the 10th Missouri Cavalry.  His unit served in General John B. Clark's Brigade of the Trans-Mississippi Department, and skirmished in Arkansas and saw action in Price's Missouri Expedition.  Her chosen one was Captain Andy Blunt, a dashing, daring fellow who followed the irregular methods of the guerillas—here today, there tomorrow.  She was the daughter of a substantial farmer and blacksmith of intense Southern sympathies.  Her father, feared not only for his life but that of his daughter for in those days men were killed for opinion's sake.  Though a mere girl, she was a leader among her sex in the work of caring for the wounded, the burial of the dead or the rescuing of the captured.  

Guerrilla Captain George Shepherd recalled that in May of 1862 fellow guerrilla Otho Hinton was found in the house of Mr. Fickle, by a company of Federals and was arrested.  When the arrest was made Annie became so abusive to the Federals that she was taken into custody and carried to Lexington, where she was imprisoned for a week, and then permitted  to return home.  Here came in Annie Fickle.  Otho Hinton was her neighbor and friend.  As soon as she was released from prison she went to Lexington to make her temporary home with a friend.  The place was strongly garrisoned by Federal troops.  Hinton’s jovial good nature and musical accomplishments had so charmed the federal authorities that he was allowed unusual liberties.  In charge of a single guard, he was permitted to visit some of his friends and occasionally dine with them.  At one of these places he often met Annie, and thus became acquainted with a plan for his rescue.  Annie resolved to take the lieutenant, the officer of the guard into her confidence.  He listened to her story and professed loyalty to her.  Hinton was invited to take supper on a certain evening at the house of a friend where he often met Annie.  The night arrived, and Hinton and the guard arrived, Annie, too, was there.  Blunt and one of his men presumably George Shepherd were to be in town in disguise, call at the house, and knock at the door at a certain time.  They were to be admitted, overpower the guard, but not harm him, take Hinton away, and restore him to his liberty.  Annie had told the guard all and he had assented.  

In the face of the plot now about to be developed, Annie, the guard, Hinton and the people of the household sat down to supper just as the shadows of the night came on.  The supper was well nigh concluded, and the appointed moment had arrived.  There was a knock at the door. Blunt was there.  Annie knew it.  Hinton knew it.  The guard knew it.  The guard knew what it meant.  He arose from his seat at the table, drew his revolver and shot Hinton dead.  This was a signal for the entrance through the rear of the house of a squad of soldiers who first arrested Annie and then rushed to the front door to secure Blunt, but he and his men had fled as soon as they heard the pistol shot.  Outside twenty Federals rose from ambush and fired on Shepherd, killing his horse which in the fall, pinioned one of his feet for a moment, but as horse and rider fell, Shepherd drew his pistol and killed the lieutenant, whose treachery was then apparent.  By extraordinary efforts Shepherd released himself and darted for a stone fence, which he leaped amid a shower of bullets, and , being fleet of foot, ran rapidly along and behind the fence until he had outstripped his pursuers, who groped aimlessly in the dark, not being able to discover which direction Shepherd had taken.  

Annie was hurried away to the same prison that had for many weeks been the home of Hinton.  From Lexington she was sent to Warrensburg.  Captain Jehu H. Smith of the 1st Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry was the provost marshal at Warrensburg and he related to Lieutenant Cole Younger after the war the following incident that occurred in the time she was under his charge: “Annie impressed me as an uncommon girl," said he, “and my attention was particularly attracted to her by the affair in which she was mixed up at Lexington.  I was surprised one day to receive a note from her saying she wanted a private interview.  I went to see her and when we were alone she told me she wanted to lay a matter before me that concerned her honor, and that she had determined to tell me everything and trust me for protection.  She then proceeded to tell me of the proposal by an officer of the regiment, one of high standing and who had access to the prison.  She said she was helpless, that she did not know what to do except lay the matter before me.  I was naturally indignant at the conduct of the officer, as Annie, whatever political crimes might have been charged to her, was a girl of irreproachable character.  I told her she could depend upon me to protect her and that I would have the officer court-martialed and driven from the army.  “No," she said, "do not do that.”  There is enough publicity about me already.  I do not ask that and would not have you take such a step.  Your word that I shall be protected is all I ask.”  Thus the matter ended.  Soon after that Annie was taken from my jurisdiction.”  To the left is what the REAL black flag which Ann made looked liked.                      

From Warrensburg she was sent to the Gratiot Street prison in St. Louis, where many Missourians of Southern sympathies were confined.  After she had been there a few weeks, she and a Confederate officer imprisoned there dug a tunnel under the prison walls, the officer doing the digging and Annie carrying the dirt away in her apron.  They reached a point where they thought it safe to ascend to the surface and break through.  They were, indeed, after weeks of patient toil, outside the prison enclosure and under the brick pavement of the street.  When they raised the bricks and were about to make their exit a prison guard discovered them and shot the officer.  Annie went back to remain until the close of the war.  In the meantime, her betrothed, Captain Blunt, was killed in a fight near Chapel Hill, Missouri.  

Local legends collaborate the aforesaid facts that in May of 1862 Annie's family home had been invaded by a company of Federals, and they arrested Annie when she was found to be in the company of a Partisan Ranger.  Later, legends further state that Annie was said to have been rescued by the Partisans, and she never forgot this.  As a token of her appreciation, Annie made a battle flag for the Partisan Rangers.  The flag was made of four layers of black, quilted alpaca, and was three by five feet.  Running edgewise through the middle of the flag was the name QUANTRELL in dark red letters.  This was her response to the Union's recent order stating that any guerrillas captured would be summarily executed on the spot.  Annie, in the dead of night, took the flag into Quantrill's camp near a little church in the Sni-a-bar Township, wrapped in a piece of plain paper.

She addressed the guerrillas in a patriotic tone saying, "It is a hard fate which awaits every brave Southern soul found in Missouri fighting for a cause as sacred to every true man as is the love of God....let the border ring with the cry of freedom.  And ever let your battle cry be, Quantrill and Southern Supremacy!" William C. Quantrill accepted it himself, and gave a deep and heartfelt thank you to Anne.  He promised to carry and protect the banner so long as he had life to do it.  Jim Little was chosen as the color bearer.  Quantrill's men gave three cheers, waving their hats, and giving full approvals, honors and recognition to this 20 year old Missouri girl who had risked her life to make this gift.  The men attached the flag to an eight foot hickory pole, attached with twelve nails.  Some claim the flag was carried into many battles, such as Lawrence, Kansas and was riddled with many bullets.  Further claims was that Quantrill even took it with him into Kentucky in 1864 where its whereabouts became unknown.

When the war ended and Annie was released from prison she returned to her old home in Lafayette County.  As the years went by she met and loved a Mr. George Parker, whose wife she became.  Her husband had served as a Confederate soldier in the 12th Missouri Cavalry Regiment, formerly the Jackson County Cavalry, organized during the summer of 1863.  The unit was assigned to General Shelby's Brigade, Trans-Mississippi Department, and confronted the Federals in Missouri and Arkansas.  Later it was part of Price's operations in Missouri.  Annie became the mother of many children, who grew up to call her name blessed, for she made a good and blameless woman.  She and her husband removed from Odessa, Lafayette County to Louisiana, where they were engaged in rice farming.  She was often heard to say the last message she had from Captain Blunt was his tapping on the door the night Otho Hinton was killed in Lexington and that the memory of it is like a sound from another world. 

Ann E. Fickle first appeared on the stage of history when her story first came to light in the book The Border Outlaws by J. W. Buel. The account of her presenting Quantrill a Black Flag with his name in scarlet has been dismissed by critics for over 130 years as being pure fabrication. Now with the acquisition of Annie's recent photograph by noted historical collector Emory Cantey Annie's story now is given historical credence. Another newly discovered find in the Cantey-Myers Collection is a recently discovered photo image of guerrilla Jack Swartz who was noted in guerrilla photographer Augustus Myer's journal of Quantrill's guerrillas as being the flag bearer. Swartz's story attests to the fact that he rode with Quantrill on the Lawrence raid when he was sixteen years old. References say he carried a Black Flag into Lawrence. It was recorded that Swartz's final wish was to buried wrapped in the flag he carried when he rode with Quantrill at Lawrence. Swartz's last wish was never granted and the whereabouts of the flag have yet to be found. With the existence of these newly discovered artifacts along with the  border legends vividly being recalled the possibility of the Black Flag is now a very distinct possibility.

Reference:  J. W. Buel - The Border Outlaws, St. Louis Pub. Co., 1881  Fitchburg, Massachusetts Sentinel, Nov 2, 1923, pg 17.

Article written by Paul R. Petersen © quantrillsguerrillas.com"Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and/or image."

All images displayed in this article are owned and copyrighted by the CANTEY-MYERS COLLECTION.  Our final image is of Jack Swartz Quantrills half-black flag bearer.                                                                                             


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