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The Flags of the Confederacy

  Salute to the Confederate Flag
(Stand erect, remove your hat and stretch out your right hand, palm up)
"I salute the Confederate Flag with affection, reverence and undying devotion to the Cause for which it stands."


First through Third National Flags, and the Battle Flag

 

       The very heart of the Confederate fighting unit was its flag, which came in a variety of designs and colors. The flag was the rallying point on the field of battle; it marked the unit headquarters in camp. In the South in 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Private Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment recalled: "Flags made by the ladies were presented to companies, and to hear the young orators tell of how they would protect the flag, and that they would come back with the flag or come not at all, and if they fell they would fall with their backs to the field and their feet to the foe, would fairly make our hair stand on end with intense patriotism, and we wanted to march right off and whip twenty Yankees." And in 1865, at the war's end, it was the furling of the defeated Confederate banners that marked the final closing of that episode in history. "For want of strength," sang Confederate veterans in their song Wearing of the Gray, "we yield them up the day, and lower the flag so proudly borne, while wearing of the gray."

       The generally accepted jargon for the elements of flags and their components is used throughout this writing. The canton is the square or rectangle placed on the top of the flag next to the pole or staff. A border is the flag's edging when rendered in a different color than the field, the main part of the flag. Fimbration is the narrow edging used to separate different colors on a flag; it is often white. The hoist is the side of the flag next to the staff, while the fly is the opposite side. When, as is normal, the flag is shown with the hoist on the left and the fly on the right, this is the obverse or front of the flag; the side seen when the hoist is on the right and the fly on the left is the reverse, or rear. The staff itself is the stave; the metal top of the stave, usually a spearhead, an axehead or an eagle, is the finial; the metal cap at the bottom of the stave is the ferrule. Many flags have cords and tassels hanging from the finial, although this was rare among Confederate flags; collectively, these are simply referred to as cords. Finally, ensigns are national flags used on a ship, as well as the rank of a Confederate commissioned color bearer after 17 February 1864; jacks are small flags flown at the bow of a ship in port; a color is carried by an infantry or foot artillery regiment; a standard is carried by a mounted unit; a camp color was a small flag used to indicate the location in camp of the unit (these seen to have seen little use among Confederates); and a flag is, strictly, that flown from a building or over a post and is not actually carried-although "flag" is a generally accepted generic term for all flown cloth insignia that represent some nation or organization.
  


The 'Stars & Bars'

 

      When Jefferson Davis was sworn into office as the President of the provisional government of the new Confederate States of America on 18 February 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama, the flag that floated over the scene was that of the state of Alabama. The states which had so recently left the almost hundred-year old United States to form their own government had no flag to represent their new nation.

       The first flag used to represent the seceding southern states as a whole had a blue field with a single white five-pointed star in its center. This flag was first displayed during the Convention of the People in Mississippi, 9 January 1861, as the flag of the Republic of Mississippi, which had been in existence for only one month. The flag was described in a widely popular song, The Bonnie Blue Flag, which was written by Harry Macarthy and first sung in New Orleans a short time later. Texans en route to join the Army of Northern Virginia sang the song in that city in September 1861. Although this design was used by several southern states and became a southern symbol, it was never officially adopted by the Confederacy as a whole.  Some military units also carried this flag; one was carried by the 8th Texas Cavalry with its unit designation "Terry's Texas Rangers" in yellow above the star.

       On 9 February the new country's Provisional Congress appointed six of their members to a committee to select a new flag from among the dozens of proposals which had been submitted to the Congress. In less than a month, in early March, the committee had four proposed sample flags hung on the walls of Congress.

       According to the final report of the committee to Congress, the search was a difficult one. The committee, they wrote, had 'given this subject due consideration, and carefully inspected all the designs and models submitted to them. The number of these has been immense, but they all may be divided into two great classes.

       FIRST: Those which copy and preserve the principal features of the United States flag, with slight and unimportant modifications.

       SECOND: Those which are very elaborate, complicated, or fantastical. The objection to the first class is, that none of them at any considerable distance could readily be distinguished from the one which-they imitate. Whatever attachment may be felt from association for the "Stars and Stripes" (an attachment which your committee may be permitted to say they do not all share), it is manifest that in inaugurating a new government we can not with any propriety, or without encountering very obvious practical difficulties, retain the flag of the Government from which we have withdrawn. There is no propriety in retaining the ensign of a government which, in the opinion of the States comprising this Confederacy, had become so oppressive and injurious to their interests as to require their separation from it. It is idle to talk of "keeping" the flag of the United States when we have voluntarily seceded from them. It is superfluous to dwell upon the practical difficulties which would flow from the fact of two distinct and probably hostile governments, both employing the same or very similar flags. It would be a political and military solecism. It would lead to perpetual disputes. As to "the glories of the old flag," we must bear in mind that the battles of the Revolution, about which our fondest and proudest memories cluster, were not fought beneath its folds. And although in more recent times-in the war of 1812 and in the war with Mexico-the South did win her fair share of glory, and shed her full measure of blood under its guidance and in its defense, we think the impartial page of history will preserve and commemorate the fact more imperishably than a mere piece of stripped bunting.

       The Committee, in examining the representation of the flags of all countries, found that Liberia and the Sandwich Islands had flags so similar to that of the United States that it seemed to them an additional, if not itself a conclusive, reason why we should not "keep," copy, or imitate it.... It must be admitted, however, that something was conceded by the committee to what seemed so strong and earnest a desire to retain at least a suggestion of the old "Stars and Stripes." So much for the mass of models and designs more or less copied from, or assimilated to, the United States flag.

       With reference to the second class of designs those of an elaborate and complicated character (but many of them showing considerable artistic skill and taste)-the committee will merely remark, that however pretty they may be, when made by the cunning skill of a fair lady's fingers in silk, satin, and embroidery, they are not appropriate as flags. A flag should be simple, readily made, and above all, capable of being made of bunting. It should be different from the flag of any other country, place or people. It should be significant. It should be readily distinguishable at a distance. The colors should be well contrasted and durable, and, lastly and not the least important point, it should be effective and handsome.

       The committee humbly think that the flag which they submit combines these requisites. It is very easy to make. It is entirely different from any national flag. The three colors of which it is composed - red, white, and blue-are the true republican colors. In heraldry they are emblematic of the three great virtues-of valor, purity, and truth. Naval men assure us that it can be recognized and distinguished at a great distance. The colors contrast admirably and are lasting. In effect and appearance it must speak for itself.

       The first hung on the chamber's walls, although not the committee's final choice, eventually became the symbol of the Confederacy as the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia as well as other Confederate military organizations. It featured a blue St. Andrew's Cross, or 'saltire' (or "saltive" - the former is the older spelling), edged or "fimbrated" in white, on a red field, with a white star representing each state on the saltire. It had been designed by Congressman W. Porcher Miles of South Carolina, the committee chairman.

       The second flag was a close copy of the US "stars and stripes" national flag, save that the stripes were made of red and blue, while the canton or 'union' remained blue with a white star for each state.

       The third rectangular flag was described as "a red field with a blue ring or circle in the center."

       The fourth flag was that which was finally chosen and is now known as the "First National Flag" of the Confederacy. On 4 March, after giving members a chance to examine the four leading candidates, the committee recommended in its final report 'that the flag of the Confederate States of America shall consist of a red field with a white space extending horizontally through the center and equal in width to one third of the width of the flag, and red spaces above and below to the same width as the white, the union blue extending down through the white space and stopping at the lower red space, in the center of the union a circle of white stars corresponding in number with the States of the Confederacy.

       Two men claimed to have designed this flag. The first was Nicola Marschall, a Prussian artist living in Montgomery, Alabama, who also claimed credit for the Confederate Army uniform design. He said that he took the basic form from the Austrian flag which had three horizontal stripes, the top and bottom one of red and the middle one of white. The letter suggesting this design was dated 2 March 1861 and would seem to back his claim. Marschall offered several variations of the canton placement, having it in the center of the white stripe or against the hoist on the white stripe as well as in the traditional union location.

       The other person who claimed to have designed the flag was Orren R. Smith, a North Carolinian. His design, he said, came from the Trinity, with the three bars standing for the state with its judiciary, legislative, and executive branches; the church; and the press. They were bound by the blue canton, with the stars in a circle signifying mutual defense.

       In 1915 the United Confederate Veterans accepted Smith's claim, although in 1931 the Alabama Department of Archives and History produced a study done by the state legislature which accepted Marschall's claim. In fact, both men probably offered similar designs virtually simultaneously, since the fairly plain design was quite similar to that of the United States. Indeed, as seen, the committee noted in its final report that "the mass of models and designs" for flags it received were "more or less copied from or assimilated to, the United States flag".

       At any rate, in a hurry to get a flag approved in time for a scheduled flag raising on 4 March, the date United States President Abraham Lincoln was to be sworn into office, Congress approved the committee's findings, taking its report into the Congressional journal with language unchanged. The result was that the so-called First National Flag was never officially adopted as the flag of the Confederacy by a full Congressional vote in a formal 'flag act' or bill. Nevertheless, for fully two years this flag was the one flown over official buildings and by many military units in the field. Indeed, since generally each Confederate regiment or independent battalion or squadron carried only one color, although it was usually referred to as 'colors', the First National Flag was the only color carried by such organizations as e.g. Georgia's Cobb's Legion.

       In one respect the committee's language was rather vague: it included no proportions of the height on the hoist, or staff, to the length of the fly. Each maker was free to produce a flag of this design that best matched his or her aesthetic tastes. A study of Confederate flags produced by H. Michael Madaus and Robert D. Needham shows that almost a third (30 per cent) of surviving First National Flags are proportioned 2:3 (hoist:fly). However, 21 per cent of these flags have proportions Of 3:5, 13 per cent have proportions Of 5:9, and some ten per cent each have proportions Of 1:2 and 3:4. First National Flags produced west of the Mississippi River appear slightly more than the average proportioned 1:2, a proportion not at all common in English flags.

       Equally, although officially the blue canton was to bear a circle of equally sized stars, in fact First National Flags came with a variety of designs, especially as additional states joined the Confederacy. By the third week of May Virginia and Arkansas added two more stars to the original seven. As Of 2 July the canton had 11 stars, following the admission of North Carolina and Tennessee to the Confederacy. Missouri's addition on 28 November gave the flag 12 stars, while the final number Of 13 was reached on 10 December with Kentucky's joining the Southern states (even though neither the Missouri nor Kentucky state legislatures formally voted for secession, both were considered by the Confederate Government considered them the 12th and 13th states to enter the Confederacy).

       The style of star, i.e. the number of rays, was not spelled out by Congress; however, the five-pointed star as used in the United States flag was the most common style used.

       In many cases a single star, often larger than the others, was placed in the center of the circle to represent the local state. This violated the original concept of having each star the same size to indicate the equality of the states in the Confederacy.

       Many flags, especially those used by Texas units from the "Lone Star State", had but one star in the canton. Flags with one star in the canton were carried by e.g. the 25th Virginia Infantry (which also had the state name painted in gold Roman letters around the white star); and Co. E, 6th North Carolina Infantry Regiment State Troops, which had its gold star within a gold laurel wreath and the gold Roman words "IN GOD WE TRUST/VICTORY OR DEATH" above and below the star and wreath.

       Some stars were placed in an apparently random design; some in rows as in the United States flag; some stars were formed into either a Greek or a St. Andrew's Cross; and some stars were placed in an arch, the 'Arch of the Covenant' which was symbolic of the Bread of Life, the symbol of spiritual nourishment. The latter design was used on Robert E. Lee's personal headquarters flag.

       State seals were often painted onto the canton instead of sewn stars. Co. E, 1st Georgia Infantry Regiment, for example, carried a First National Flag measuring 42 inches on the hoist and 66 inches on the fly with the Georgia state seal painted on the blue canton on the obverse side, and on the reverse seven white stars in a circle with a red scroll above and another below with the gold block words 'WE YIELD NOT TO/OUR COUNTRY'S FOES' on the scrolls. Co. E, 1st Maryland Cavalry Regiment had the Maryland state seal painted on the canton of their First National Flag, which is 27 inches on the hoist and 46 inches on the fly.

       Materials also varied according to maker. Silk was the preferred material, and many First National Flags made by hometown ladies were of this fabric. The standard carried by Co. K, 3rd Texas Cavalry at Oak Hills, Missouri, and Pea Ridge, Arkansas, was made entirely of silk by the ladies of the company's home town. However, when the women of Tyler, Texas, made a First National Flag for Co. D, I 5th Texas Infantry, they used cotton on the white bar and stars as well as the canton, but a wool/cotton mixture for the red bars. A First National Flag captured at Pea Ridge from an Arkansas brigade was entirely made of wool flannel, with the words "JEFF.DAVIS" worked in black velvet Roman uncial letters on its obverse.
       One of the strangest First National Flags still in existence is that used from time to time by the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, Mosby's Rangers. The unit carried out guerrilla warfare behind Union lines in Northern Virginia, and therefore rarely carried its standard into action. However, the flag, which measures 51 inches on the hoist by 114 inches on the fly, was used at Mosby's headquarters. According to a veteran some years after the war: "Bunting was a scarcity in those days, and the blue field of this flag had been cut from the blouse [fatigue coat] of a Union soldier; the red stripes are of a fair quality bunting, while the white stripe is of unbleached cotton."

       There was also no regulation finial, cords, or stave size or color. In practice, most units used brass or gilt spear point or halberd finials; eagles left over from before the war and captured with US Army colors were also used. Staves were left their natural wood color. Cords rarely appeared with Confederate colors.

       Military versions of the First National Flag also often had the unit designation painted or sewn on the white middle stripe.
 

 


The 'Stainless Banner'

 

       Hardly had the seamstresses turned out their first set of First National Flags when complaints about the emblems' appearance began to be voiced.

       From the military viewpoint, the similarity between the two sides' flags led to confusion, especially at the first big battle of the war, First Manassas. "The mistake of supposing Kirby Smith's and Elzy's approaching troops to be Union reinforcements for McDowell's right was caused by the resemblance, at a distance, of the original Confederate flag to the colors of Federal regiments," recalled Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. This mishap caused the Confederates to cast about for a new ensign, brought out our battle-flag, led to its adoption by General Beauregard, and afterwards by higher authority as the union shield of the Confederate national flag.

       Civilians were also generally unhappy with the similarity between the northern and southern flags. "There is little room for doubt that the resemblance of the Confederate flag to that of the United States renders it displeasing in the eyes of more than three fourths of our population," editorialized the Daily Richmond Examiner on 13 December 1861. "The desire for a change in the present banner has been so generally manifested that is nearly certain that it will be made." The newspaper's editor further suggested that the new flag should not have stars or the colors of red, white, and blue, preferring instead a gold or scarlet national emblem in the canton or center of the field.

       A Joint Committee on Flag and Seal was appointed by both houses of the first Confederate congress, and on 19 April 1862 it submitted its recommendation as a joint resolution: "Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, That the flag of the Confederate States shall be as follows: A red field, charged with a white saltier, having in the center the device of a sun, in its glory, on an azure ground, the rays of the sun corresponding with the number of States composing the Confederacy." After a great deal of debate the House of Representatives voted 39 to 21 to postpone further consideration of the resolution, which the Senate never formally discussed. Therefore, it died in Congress; and apparently few if any of these flags were made, as no physical examples exist today.

       Nevertheless, unhappiness with the First National Flag continued. In the Confederate field armies the problem of a flag that looked like that of the enemy-an important objection when the colors regiments carried on the field were a major means of identification-was solved by local commanders (see the page on the battle flag). Indeed, the battle flags of the Army of Northern Virginia were those most seen in the capital city of Richmond, and most influenced Confederate legislators.

       Consequently, on 22 April 1863 Senate Bill No. 132 was introduced, which read: "The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the flag of the Confederate States shall be as follows: a white field with the [Army of Northern Virginia] battle flag for a union, which shall be square and occupy two thirds of the width of the flag, and a blue bar, one third of the flag, in its width, dividing the field otherwise."
       Passed by the Senate, the bill was introduced on the floor of the House on 1 May to a great deal of debate. One proposed motion removed the blue bar from the field and instead edged the field with red. Another suggested simply adopting the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag, in a rectangular shape, as the national flag. In the end, however, the bill that passed the House and was agreed to by the senate described the flag as follows: "The field to be white, the length double the width of the flag, with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be a square of two thirds the width of the flag, having the ground red; thereon a broad saltier of blue, bordered with white, and emblazoned with white mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding in number to that of the Confederate States.'

       The Second National Flag was approved by both houses and became official on 1 May 1863. It was first used to cover the coffin of the beloved Lt. Gen. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, who had been badly wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville on 2 May and died of pneumonia on 10 May. His coffin, draped with the new Second National Color, lay in state in the chamber of the House of Representatives on 12 May. As a result of this connection, as well as due to the fact that both this flag and Jackson's picture appeared on the too dollar bill of the 2 February 1864 issue, the Second National Color was often called the "Jackson flag". The pure white field also led to the Second National Flag being nicknamed the "stainless banner".

       On 26 May 1863 the Second National Flag was designated by the Secretary of the Navy as the official naval jack, or ensign. The orders establishing the jack also spelled out the specific proportions Of 2:3. A flag 54 inches in the fly would be 108 inches long with a square canton 36 inches on each side. The arms of the saltier were to be 1/4.8 the width of the canton, so on a flag 54 inches in fly they would be 7.5 inches wide. The white border on the saltier was to be 1/22 the width of the canton, or in this case 1 3/5 inches Wide. Each star was to have a diameter of 1/6.4 the canton width; they would be 5.5 inches in diameter in this example.

       As it turned out, surviving examples differ widely from both the regulation flag and each other. The Second National Flag used as the standard of the 8th Virginia Cavalry measures 53 inches by 98 inches; that used by Lt. Gen. Jubal Early in his headquarters flag was 47 inches by 72 inches; and the headquarters flag of Maj. Gen . J.E.B. (jeb) Stuart was 46 inches by 74 inches.

       Moreover, Second National Flags were used mostly by the government on its buildings and forts and the navy on its ships; army units in the field did not as a whole take to the new flag. Indeed, First National Flags were still being used as late as the Battle of Gettysburg by some units in the Army of Northern Virginia, despite the new flag's introduction.

       Some Second National Flags were apparently issued by the Richmond Clothing Depot, which made unit colors and standards as well as clothing, to units in the Virginia and North Carolina theaters, although plain First National Flags continued to be carried-e.g., by the 44th and 60th Georgia Infantry Regiments-in that theater even after the new flag's introduction. The Second National Flags from the Richmond Depot were made of cotton and bunting in the correct 2:3 proportion. The dark blue St. Andrew's cross bore 13 white five-pointed stars. The white fimbration overlapped the ends of the cross.

       In large part, however, Army of Northern Virginia units that received the new flags cut off the white field and flew only the small battle flag when on active service. As mentioned above, a number of Second National Flags were used as headquarters colors by various Army of Northern Virginia general officers, among them Stuart and Early.

       Soldiers in the Western theater, however, apparently took to the new flag more than those in the East. There a small number of infantry regiments received these flags and carried them as their regimental colors. These flags generally lacked the white overlap at the ends of the cross. The 11th Tennessee Infantry Regiment even painted its unit designation in dark blue on the field over battle honors for Rockcastle, Cumberland Gap, Tazewell, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge. Its color measured 33 inches by 67 inches, and did have overlaps on the ends of the St. Andrew's cross. The 8th Virginia Cavalry Regiment embroidered its unit designation in white on the field, along with a battle honor for White Sulphur Springs in the same material.

 

 


The 'Blood-Stained Banner'


        From the first day the Second National Flag was run up the flag pole, complaints were made about its appearance. The most serious one was that when limp, in a windless day, it looked like an all-white flag of truce. Many flag makers attempted to resolve this problem by making the canton disproportionately large.
       This did not solve the problem, however. The Daily Richmond Examiner suggested that since the horse symbolized the "equestrian South", if should be used in black on a white flag as a new national flag. Indeed, the Confederacy's "Great Seat" featured Virginian George Washington mounted on his warhorse. Although this suggested flag met some acceptance, there was also opposition, especially to giving up the battle flag, which had flown over so many hard-fought fields, as an element of the new flag.

       Therefore, on 13 December 1864 Senate Bill No.137 was introduced, specifying a new flag designed by an artilleryman, Major Arthur L. Rogers. It legislated "That the flag of the Confederate States of America shall be as follows: The width two-thirds of its length, with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be in width three-fifths of the width of the flag, and so proportioned as to leave the length of the field on the side of the union twice the width of the field below it; to have the ground red and a broad blue saltier thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned with mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding in number to that of the Confederate States; the field to be white, except the outer half from the union to be a red bar extending the width of the flag." According to Rogers, the white symbolized purity and innocence, and the red fortitude and courage. The cross of St. Andrew indicated descent from British stock, while the red bar was taken from the French flag, as many other Southerners were descended from French stock.

       After a great deal of consideration the bill was passed by the Senate without change on 6 February 1865 and by the House of Representatives on 27 February. It was signed into law on 4 March 1865-at which time the Confederacy measured its continued political existence in weeks. Indeed, because the Confederacy was so short-lived, few Third National Flags were made and most of those that were, were made by simply shortening the fly of Second National Flags and adding the red bar.
 

[Editor's note: the Third National Flag was never officially surrendered, and still flies over many Southern official buildings]

 


The Battle Flag

[Editor's note: this flag is often confused with the rectangular Naval Jack, commonly flown to this day in the South]

 

        The first major battle of the war, Bull Run or First Manassas, brought to light problems in using the First National Flag on the field of combat. For example, then-brigade commander Jubal Early was advised at one point during the battle that his regiments were firing on friends. Although he thought it was not so, he halted his men and rode out to where he could see a regiment drawn in battle line several hundred yards away. "The dress of the volunteers on both sides at that time was very similar," he later wrote, "and the flag of the regiment I saw was drooping around the staff, so that I could not see whether it was the United States or Confederate flag." It was not until the regiment in question fell back that he "saw the United States flag unfurled and discovered the mistake". In the meantime, precious time had been lost.

       After this problem became evident the commander of the army in northern Virginia, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, ordered that his regiments carry their state flags. Only Virginia regiments were able to obtain enough state flags for this purpose. Moreover, some state flags were too similar to colors carried by Union forces. The dark blue field of the Virginia state flag, for example, when lying limp, would look exactly like that of the US Army infantry regimental color, which also featured a dark blue field.

       To solve this problem, Congressman William Porcher Miles suggested to Gen. Beauregard that the army adopt as a battle flag the pattern which he had designed for the First National Flag--a pattern which Congress had rejected twice. On 27 August 1861 Miles sent Beauregard a drawing of his suggested flag, adding that his design called for, "...the ground Red, the Cross Blue (edged with white), Stars, White. This was my favorite. The three colors of Red, White, and Blue were preserved in it. It avoided the religious objection about the cross ...it being the "Saltire" of Heraldry and significant of strength and progress ... The Stars ought always to be White or Argent because they are then blazoned "Proper" (or natural color). Stars to show better on an Azure field than any other. Blue Stars on a White field would not be handsome or appropriate. The "White edge" (as I term it) to the Blue is partly a necessity to prevent what is called "false blazonry"...It would not do to put a blue cross therefore on a red field ...The introduction of the white between the Blue and Red adds also much to the brilliancy of the colors and brings them out in strong relief"

       Beauregard liked the design, writing to Miles on 4 September 1861: "I regret to hear of the failure about the change of flag- but what can now be done is, to authorize commanding generals in the field to furnish their troops with a "field, or battle flag," which shall be according to your design, leaving out, however, the white border, or rim separating the blue from the red. I would have it simply a red ground with two blue bars crossing each other diagonally, on which shall be the white stars; a white or golden fringe might go all around the sides of the flag."

       Beauregard took the idea to Johnston, who also liked the basic design but changed its shape to square on the recommendation of the army's future quartermaster, Who said that a square flag would save cloth. He also restored the white fimbration. Examples of the new battle flag were made in September 1861 by three Richmond belles, Hettie, Jennie, and Constance Cary. According to Constance, "They were jaunty squares of scarlet crossed with dark blue edged with white, the cross bearing stars to indicate the number of the seceded States. We set our best stitches upon them, edged them with golden fringes, and, when they were finished, dispatched one to Johnston, another to Beauregard, and the third to Earl Van Dorn, then commanding infantry at Manassas. The banners were received with all possible enthusiasm; were toasted, feted, and cheered abundantly."

       The original flag sent to Van Dorn survives in the collection of the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia. It has a red field with a blue St. Andrew's cross with white fimbration and hoist edge, with three white ties to hold it to the staff. Three gold stars are set on each arm of the cross, clustered close to the center; there is no star where the arms of the cross meet. It has 3-inch-long yellow fringing, and is actually 31 inches by 30 inches in size rather than perfectly square. The name 'Constance' has been embroidered on the lower arm of the cross near the hoist.

       Three sizes were established for the battle flags made to this design and finally issued throughout the Army of Northern Virginia. Infantry versions were to be 48 inches on each side; artillery versions, 36 inches square; and cavalry versions, 30 inches square.

       The first pattern Army of Northern Virginia battle flags were made as the samples were, sewn of dress silk by Richmond ladies under contract. Their blue crosses were eight inches wide, edged with 3/4 inch-wide white silk. The 12 white stars were 4 inches in diameter, set 8 inches apart from the center of the cross. All the edges but the hoist were bound in yellow silk; the hoist had a blue silk sleeve. Finally, the fields tended to be pinkish rather than scarlet.

       Not all of these flags were made by official contractors from the start. The 4th Texas Infantry, for example, received in November 1861 a variant of this flag which was made by Miss Lula Wigfall, daughter of one of Texas' senators. This 47-inch square silk flag was very similar to the first pattern except that it featured a single star at the point where the arms of the cross met which was larger than the other stars-symbolic of the Lone Star of Texas. The other stars were placed rather towards the outer part of the arms of the cross, rather than being clustered towards the center as on the first silk pattern flags. It was edged in yellow, with the edge on the hoist side folded around to make a sleeve for the staff. This battle-worn flag was retired to Texas for storage on 7 October 1862.

       By that time, most of these colors had been worn out by much use in the field. However, in early 1862 the Richmond Clothing Depot had acquired sufficient stocks of bunting, both by purchase from England and by the capture of the US Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia. The Depot began manufacturing and issuing its own machine-sewn First Bunting Pattern, Army of Northern Virginia battle flags. These were very similar to the First Silk Pattern flags but made of bunting, with true scarlet fields. Instead of yellow silk edging they were made with orange flannel 1 inches wide; the orange rapidly became a somewhat dirty tan in color after some time in the field. The thirteenth star was added at the center of the cross, and the cotton stars were smaller, only 3 inches in diameter. They were set 6 inches apart from the center of the cross. The fimbration was made of inch wide cotton. The staff side was made with a 2-inch-wide white canvas or linen heading with three whipped eyelets for ties.

       These flags, often lacking any sort of designation such as battle honors or unit designation, quickly became the standard Army of Northern Virginia battle flag first issued to Longstreet's Right Wing in May 1862. One of these unmarked flags, for example, was carried by the 3rd Georgia Infantry throughout the war.

       In the spring of 1862 the Depot slightly changed the colors it had been issuing. The blue cross was now made only 5 inches wide. The stars were also reduced in size, to 3 3/4 inches in diameter. The so called Third Bunting Pattern flag appeared in late 1862, when the orange borders were replaced with white 2-inch-wide bunting.


Source: "Flags of the American Civil War, 1: Confederate" By Philip Katcher & Rick Scollins

 

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