Flags of the Civil War

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1 Flags of the Civil War Controversies surround the flags of the Civil War especially on the Confederate side. This section is offered to give teachers correct information about these symbols. Flags of the United States of America The Union flag of the Civil War period had (Left) thirty-five stars in the field of blue with West Virginia being the thirty-fifth state and (Right) thirty-three stars. The U. S. used four different flags during the war

2 Flags of the Confederate States of America Confederate National Flags The First National Flag of the Confederate States of America. The Stars and Bars The Stars and Bars was used as the official flag of the Confederacy from March 1861 to May of The pattern and colors of this flag did not distinguish it from the Stars and Stripes of the Union. Because of its similarity to the United States flag, difficulty arose in distinguishing one from the other, especially on the battlefield. This resulted in "friendly fire" and the capture of many prisoners of war on both sides. The flag's first official use was at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis on March 4, 1861.The seven stars represent the original Confederate States: South Carolina (December 20, 1860) Mississippi (January 9, 1861) Florida (January 10,1861) Alabama (January 11, 1861) Georgia (January 19, 1861) Louisiana (January 26, 1861) Texas (February 1, 1861) The First National Flag of the Confederate States of America flying at Fort Sumter, SC on April 14, 1861, the day after the Union surrendered.

3 The Second National Flag of the Confederacy The Stainless Banner On May 1, 1863, a second design was adopted, placing the Battle Flag also known as the "Southern Cross" or the Saint Andrews Cross as the canton on a white field, primarily to remove all similarities shared by the First National Flag (Stars and Bars) and the United States flag. Saint Andrew was the apostle martyred by being crucified on an X-shaped cross A large degree of the Southern population was of Scottish and Scotch-Irish ancestry, and thus familiar with St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.) This flag was easily mistaken for a white flag of surrender especially when the air was calm and the flag hung limply. This flag's long white field often made it look like a surrender flag in the midst of battle. It flew over Fort Sumter until the Confederate evacuation of Charleston in February This flag also draped Stonewall Jackson's Casket and over the tent of Jeb Stuart during the war. Efforts to secede failed in Kentucky and Missouri though those states were represented by two of the stars. The flag now had 13 stars having been joined officially by four more states: Virginia (April 17, 1861) Arkansas (May 6, 1861) Tennessee (May 7, 1861) North Carolina (May 21, 1861). The Third National Flag of the Confederacy On March 4th, 1865, a short time before the collapse of the Confederacy, a third pattern was adapted; a broad bar of red was placed on the fly end of the white field to avoid confusing it with a flag of truce or surrender.

4 Military Flags of the Confederacy Southern Cross or Saint Andrews Cross The best-known Confederate flag was the Battle Flag. This flag was used after the first battle of Manassas (Bull Run) and designed by General P. G. T. Beauregard It was carried by Confederate troops in the field which were the vast majority of forces under the confederacy. The Stars represented the 11 states actually in the Confederacy plus Kentucky and Missouri. 1st Virginia Infantry Naval Jack This flag was a naval jack at sea from 1863 onward. This flag has become the generally recognized symbol of the South. Some infantry regiments carried this flag as well. The Confederate battle flag, called the "Southern Cross" or the cross of St. Andrew, has been described variously as a proud emblem of Southern heritage and as a shameful reminder of slavery and segregation. In the past, several Southern states flew the Confederate battle flag along with the U.S. and state flags over their statehouses. Others incorporated the controversial symbol

5 into the design of their state flags. The Ku Klux Klan and other racist hate groups have also appropriated the Confederate battle flag. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 500 extremist groups use the Southern Cross as one of their symbols. The Bonnie Blue Flag On January 9, 1861, the convention of the People of Mississippi adopted an Ordinance of Secession. With this announcement the Bonnie Blue flag was raised over the capitol building in Jackson. Harry Macarthy was so inspired that he wrote a song entitled "The Bonnie Blue Flag" which became the second most popular patriotic song of the Confederacy. The Confederate government did not adopt this flag but the people did and the lone star flags were adopted in some form in five of the southern States that adopted new flags in A variation of the Bonne Blue Flag, this is the Regimental Flag of the 17th Tennessee Infantry, which my father s ancestors fought in during the war. Most of my paternal ancestors fought in Company I of the regiment serving with the Army of Tennessee in 1861 through 1863 at battles such as Mill Springs and Perryville in Kentucky, Murfreesboro in Tennessee and Chickamauga in northern Georgia in September They returned with General Longstreet to Virginia and ended the war with Robert E. Lee s Army of Northern Virginia surrendering at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865.

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