"The" Confederate Battle Flag Does Not Exist.

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
28th VA flag captured by 1st MN third day Gettysburg.jpeg

"The" Confederate Battle Flag Does Not Exist.

Despite the bazillion times you have heard or seen the phrase, 'The Confederate Battle Flag', no such thing ever existed. The reason for that is that there never was a single official Confederate battle flag. In the U.S. Army, there was a blue battle flag assigned to every regiment. It had a standard pattern dictated by regulation. In the Confederate service, each army commander had the option to order a battle flag design for his army or not. The square headquarters/commanding officer's flag above with its gold stars & fringe, is the type Gen Joseph Johnston ordered the soon to be designated Army of Northern Virginia to adopt. He also commanded the Army of Tennessee to adopt the rectangular naval jack design. The reason he went to the rectangular jack design is because it flows out into the wind better than the square A.o.V. design.

The Confederate Congressional Committee on the Flag & Seal rejected the William Miles flag design the first time it was submitted. The committee complained that it looked "like a pair of suspenders. It was rejected a second time, but Beauregard & Johnston decided to use it despite official denial. It was Johnston who ordered the square design that the Army of Northern Virginia made famous.

What is a battle flag? A battle flag is a marker. Imagine ten thousand people dressed alike all lined up. How can you make out who is who & where they are? The battle flag not only gives a visual indicator to a brigade commander, e.g., as to where his regiments are in the line, it is a rally point for the men. In the advance or retreat or when forming up, the battle flag indicated to the men where they should go. Battle flags are carried & apart for headquarters, are never supposed to be flown on flag poles.

Bragg corps flag.jpeg


This is General Bragg's design that was used by his division at Shiloh. The six pointed stars are the correct heraldic shape. They should be gold & represent the golden spurs of a knight. The wide pink border was the result of the material available when the flags were sewn. Some of the Army of Northern Virginia's flags were pink, not red because there wasn't enough red material. Red was a popular trim material, but was not available in large bolts.

Polk corps flag.jpeg


General Bishop Leonidas Polk's Corps, Army of Tennessee carried this design at Stones River.



Also at Stones River, was General McCowen's simple white X on a blue field design. The red triangles indicates individual regiments of the corps. As you might imagine, the narrow white X was almost impossible to see at any distance.

Hardee flag.jpeg


Hardee's corps of the Army of Tennessee carried its iconic full moon battle flags right up until the end of the war. When General Johnston ordered the A.o.T. to hand in their battle flags of many colors & replace them with the "trouser suspender" flag from Virginia, there was a great deal of discontent. In General Patric Cleburne's division, the resistance to the change reached almost to the level of open mutiny. Upon sober consideration, Cleburne's division was allowed to keep their battle flag. The simple circle on a blue field was only one version of the flag. Depending on the whim of the contractor, I guess, the center ball was oblong, a square with the corners rounded off & at least one a sort of eccentric hand dipped chocolate candy form.

McCowan Arkansas Inf battle flag.jpeg

This McCowan Pattern battle flag belonged to Turnbull's 30th Arkansas Regiment. The McCowan flag was at Stones River.

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This actually is THE Confederate flag, at least for a while. Referred to as the First National, this flag was the national flag of the Confederacy. Several regiments & headquarters had this flag at Stones River. Individual regiments may or may not have been issued a national flag. Union regiments had both a national & regimental flag. For a variety of reasons, national flags were relatively uncommon on Civil War battlefields. This design was later replaced by a white flag with an Army of Northern Virginia battle flag as the canton. Known as the Stainless Banner, the committee who approved it hadn't noticed that the white flag, at any distance or in a light wind looked.... well... like a white flag, i.e., indicating surrender. In one of those rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic affairs that marked the waining days of the Confederate Government, a broad vertical red stripe was added to the fly end of the flag. What records that still exist indicate that the Third National was issued only to a limited degree during the final days of the Confederacy.

I have only displayed a token of the battle flags of the Confederacy. The Army of Tennessee had eight different battle flags. The commanders held events where divisions lined up & the battle flags were paraded back & forth so the men would recognize the flags of their army.

In the early days of the war, every platoon sized unit in the new Confederate army had its own battle flag. The flags bearing heroic names & fanciful designs of those naive days still exist in large numbers. As the hometown heroes were consolidated into official state regiments, their battle flags were sent home. You can find many of them on state historical society websites. The same is true of the various patterns of Confederate battle flags that were captured & then returned after the turn of the 20th Century.

Arkansas_Resource_Page_US_Civil_War_War_Between_the_States-3.jpg

General Van Dorn's battle flag is one of my personal favorites. This is a reproduction of the 15th Arkansas Northwest Regiment.

Chicago-Board-of-Trade-Battery-guidon.jpg


This is the only known example of an informal Army of the Cumberland artillery guidon to still exist, in this case The Chicago Board of Trade Battery. Both sides had small guidons used by the artillery or mounted on the bayonets of sergeants in the infantry. Very few of them survived the war. It is not a battle flag. Guidons were used, in the case of the artillery, to indicate where the casinos were to form a line after dropping the cannons of a battery.

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A yellow flag with a green H indicated the position of a hospital. Small yellow or red guidons were posted along the approaches to the hospital site to direct wounded & ambulances.

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U.S. Army flag chart in the back of the Official Military Atlas of the Civil War


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Flag of the 25th Corps made up of regiments of United States Colored Troops that captured Richmond.

Genral Hookder ordered General Dan Butterfield to create a marker flag system for the Army of the Potomac. The simple, easy to read from a distance system of flags Butterfield developed was adopted U.S. Army wide. Historians mark the corps symbols developed at Hooker's command as the beginning of the shoulder patch designs in used today.

The advantage of Butterfield's system was that it was possible to recognize the corps, division or battalion a unit belonged to very accurately, even with just a glance. Army commander's flag was a blue burgee (swallow tail) with the corps emblem. Red, white & blue indicated first, second & third division or brigade. Good design is simple design & General Butterfield achieved that goal.

20 corps 3rd Div 3rd Brig.jpeg


By way of comparison with General Butterfield's system, the one General Rosecran's approved for the Army of the Cumberland was a failure. This is the flag of the 20th Corps, 3rd Division, 3rd Brigade. As you. can see, at any distance or if it was windy, it would have been impossible to make out. As far as anyone knows, the pink corps flags ordered were never made, too bad. It would have been pretty cool to carry one at one of our National Park programs.

So, now, when someone writes or says "The Confederate Flag" or "The Confederate Battle Flag" you will squinch up your eye, purse your mouth & look heavenward just like I do. Aint knowledge wonderful?

Greg Biggs of Clarksville TN is without a doubt the premiere Civil War vexillologist. google his name for detailed information on this subject.
 
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Joined
Jan 29, 2019
According to the 1 Dec 1861 issue of the Atlanta Intelligencer Newspaper, the Confederate battle flag was announced with a depiction of it which appears to be the Confederate battle flag of which we are all accustomed. Below is the announcement in that publication:

"The new Confederate Flag, in a design presented by General P.G.T. Beauregard, was Thursday distributed to his Troops (28 Nov 1861). Confusion of Confederate and Union Flags at the Battle of Bull Run prompted General Beauregard to ask for a new design. Its field is red; the cross is blue (edged in white), on which are 13 stars, one for each state claimed by the Confederacy."

The depiction of the Flag has underneath it the following inscription: "C. S. A. Battle Flag."

Hetty, Jenny and Constance Cary sewed the first three Confederate battle flags and presented them to General`s Joseph E. Johnston, P.G.T. Beauregard and Earl Van Dorn at a ceremony on 28 Nov 1861 at Centreville, Virginia 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. and 2 miles north of Manasses where the Battle of Bull Run was fought. The design was from P.G.T. Beauregard and Senator William Porcher Miles, because of the confusion created in recognizing the First National Flag during battle, it was too easily confused with the U. S. Flag from the smoke of the battle, so P.G.T. Beauregard proposed designing a new battle flag to identify the Army on the field of battle and a Government Flag which would remain the First National Flag. This was in September of 1861, which is when the Cary Sisters, Hetty and Jennie along with their cousin Constance began sewing the Flags.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
According to the 1 Dec 1861 issue of the Atlanta Intelligencer Newspaper, the Confederate battle flag was announced with a depiction of it which appears to be the Confederate battle flag of which we are all accustomed. Below is the announcement in that publication:

"The new Confederate Flag, in a design presented by General P.G.T. Beauregard, was Thursday distributed to his Troops (28 Nov 1861). Confusion of Confederate and Union Flags at the Battle of Bull Run prompted General Beauregard to ask for a new design. Its field is red; the cross is blue (edged in white), on which are 13 stars, one for each state claimed by the Confederacy."

The depiction of the Flag has underneath it the following inscription: "C. S. A. Battle Flag."

Hetty, Jenny and Constance Cary sewed the first three Confederate battle flags and presented them to General`s Joseph E. Johnston, P.G.T. Beauregard and Earl Van Dorn at a ceremony on 28 Nov 1861 at Centreville, Virginia 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. and 2 miles north of Manasses where the Battle of Bull Run was fought. The design was from P.G.T. Beauregard and Senator William Porcher Miles, because of the confusion created in recognizing the First National Flag during battle, it was too easily confused with the U. S. Flag from the smoke of the battle, so P.G.T. Beauregard proposed designing a new battle flag to identify the Army on the field of battle and a Government Flag which would remain the First National Flag. This was in September of 1861, which is when the Cary Sisters, Hetty and Jennie along with their cousin Constance began sewing the Flags.
The news paper can announce anything they want. The simple fact is that the neither Confederate Congress or Confederate Army ever authorized a single official battle flag. The caption should have read, "C.S. a Battle Flag." sorry, couldn't resist a little humor.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
The news paper can announce anything they want. The simple fact is that the neither Confederate Congress or Confederate Army ever authorized a single official battle flag. The caption should have read, "C.S. a Battle Flag." sorry, couldn't resist a little humor.

My point being that this was announced on December 1, 1861 during the infancy of the Civil War and "they" called it the "C.S.A. Battle Flag" from first hand information, being their sources of the period who were alive and well. Who are we to tell them they were wrong 158 years later? Basically telling the people that were actually there during the actual event that they had no idea what they were talking about, during a time in which none of us were alive I might add. During this time General P.G.T. Beauregard was still considered one of a very select few prominent leaders of the Confederate Army, if not the head of it, under President Jefferson Davis. Beauregard recognized that flag as the Confederate Battle Flag, as he and Senator William Porcher Miles were the ones who designed it. Not to mention that if you had asked any Confederate Veteran what was the Confederate Battle Flag that is the one that they would recognize and point to. They did as much in a plethora of photos after the Civil War posing with that flag and referring to it as the Confederate Battle Flag.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
My point being that this was announced on December 1, 1861 during the infancy of the Civil War and "they" called it the "C.S.A. Battle Flag" from first hand information, being their sources of the period who were alive and well. Who are we to tell them they were wrong 158 years later? Basically telling the people that were actually there during the actual event that they had no idea what they were talking about, during a time in which none of us were alive I might add. During this time General P.G.T. Beauregard was still considered one of a small handful of leaders of the Confederate Army, if not the head of it, under President Jefferson Davis, and Beauregard recognized that flag as the Confederate Battle Flag, as he and Senator William Porcher Miles were the ones who designed it.
At that time, there were hundreds, literally hundreds of Confederate battle flags in use on that date. I would have to ask Greg Biggs, who knows all, but there may have been thousands of them. Just because something happened in Virginia doesn't mean that the rest of the Confederacy was paying any attention. Beauregard orders the Army of Tennessee to convert to the "trouser suspender" flag, as it was derisively called in the West, but he did not stay in command long enough to make it happen. Bragg, who superseded him never designated a battle flag for the Army of Tennessee. Johnston superseded Bragg & ordered the Confederate naval jack to replace the various battle flags of the A.o.T. Kirby Smith certainly never changed the Trans-Mississippi flag.
 
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Jan 29, 2019
I do understand what you are saying; that there was no "official" act of the Confederate Congress to "declare" it as "the" Confederate Battle Flag. But it was the first Confederate Flag specifically designed to be flown during battle and every other Confederate Battle Flag that you mentioned came after it, many of which were patterned after it or influenced by it. On 28 Nov 1861 when the first three Confederate Battle Flags made by the Cary women and were presented to Beauregard, Johnston and Van Dorn at Centreville, Virginia during their winter quarters, the only other flag that was being flown by the Confederate Army during battle was the First National Flag. This was the case regarding the first two major battles of the Civil War, that being the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) in July 1861 and then the Battle of Leesburg, Va. (Ball`s Bluff) in October 1861, after which the Confederate Army went into winter camp. About 5 weeks later Beauregard, Johnston and Van Dorn were presented at Centreville on Thanksgiving Day (28 Nov 1861) with what they all referenced as the Confederate Battle Flag, to be used on the field of battle in place of the First National Flag (Stars and Bars) which created all of the confusion amongst the men of both armies during the first two major battles of the War (Bull Run and Leesburg), in vast smoke created by battle it was being confused with the American Flag (Stars and Stripes), and therefore a substitute was needed which became the Battle Flag allowing the First National Flag to represent the Confederate Government and be flown at official functions. As I made reference to above in post #4, had you asked any Confederate Veteran what was the Confederate Battle Flag, that is the one that they would recognize and point to. They did as much in a plethora of photos after the Civil War posing with that flag and referring to it as the Confederate Battle Flag. So numerous Confederate soldiers recognized it as the official Confederate Battle Flag during and most definitely after the war. Even though other armies had their specific version of it, which all came after the one published and announced by Atlanta Intelligencer Newspaper on 1 Dec 1861 in their publication.
 
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lelliott19

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the "trouser suspender" flag, as it was derisively called in the West,
Who called it the "trouser suspender" flag? I've never heard that before. I'd love know your source? I ran several detailed searches of period newspapers for all states from 1861 to 1925 at the Library of Congress Chronicling America site and a separate one of Georgia newspapers from 1861 to 1925 using a variety of combinations, with and without hyphenation. There were zero results indicating anyone - North or South - used the words trouser and suspender or "trouser-suspender" or those words in any other proximity to reference any flag. Then I ran a google search - thinking maybe it was mentioned in a book somewhere, but the only results were yours - here and at other civil war message boards.
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I do understand what you are saying; that there was no "official" act of the Confederate Congress to "declare" it as "the" Confederate Battle Flag. But it was the first Confederate Flag specifically designed to be flown during battle and every other Confederate Battle Flag that you mentioned came after it, many of which were patterned after it or influenced by it. On 28 Nov 1861 when the first three Confederate Battle Flags made by the Carey women and were presented to Beauregard, Johnson and Van Dorn at Centreville, Virginia during their winter quarters, the only other flag that was being flown by the Confederate Army during battle was the First National Flag. This was the case regarding the first two major battles of the Civil War, that being the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) in July 1861 and then the Battle of Leesburg, Va. (Ball`s Bluff) in October 1861, after which the Confederate Army went into winter camp. About 5 weeks later Beauregard, Johnson and Van Dorn were presented at Centreville on Thanksgiving Day (28 Nov 1861) with what they all referenced as the Confederate Battle Flag, to be used on the field of battle in place of the First National Flag (Stars and Bars) which created all of the confusion amongst the men of both armies during the first two major battles of the War (Bull Run and Leesburg), in vast smoke created by battle it was being confused with the American Flag (Stars and Stripes), and therefore a substitute was needed which became the Battle Flag allowing the First National Flag to represent the Confederate Government and be flown at official functions. As I made reference to above in post #4, had you asked any Confederate Veteran what was the Confederate Battle Flag, that is the one that they would recognize and point to. They did as much in a plethora of photos after the Civil War posing with that flag and referring to it as the Confederate Battle Flag. So numerous Confederate soldiers recognized it as the official Confederate Battle Flag during and most definitely after the war. Even though other armies had their specific version of it, which all came after the one published and announced by Atlanta Intelligencer Newspaper on 1 Dec 1861 in their publication.
I am preparing for the anniversary programs at Stones River National Battlefield where at least six Confederate battle flags, not one of which is your 'THE" flag. Frankly, I am not "saying" anything. It is what the Confederate congress & army didn't say that matters here.
 

Ethan S.

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Location
Carter County Kentucky
This is a hot topic for me. In the media today, any flag that looks like, well, you know, the "Confederate flag" is lumped into one category. It drives me nuts, because I'm like, "well what about the Army of Northern Virginia pattern? How's about regimental and brigade flags? That's not a battle flag, that's the redneck mafia symbol!" etc.

Below is a modern day "Confederate battle flag" from a flea market, painted to look like the regimental flag of the 54th VA.

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The classic AONV flag style.


My avatar is the Brigade flag of the Orphan Brigade, Army of the Tennessee.


In essence, the "Confederate flag" cannot be just a single flag. What about the C.S. National flag?

1200px-Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_(1861–1863).svg.png


Not to be confused with the Stainless Banner, and such.

I don't know a lot about flags, but I do appreciate them, and I hate them being confused.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Who called it the "trouser suspender" flag? I've never heard that before. I'd love know your source? I ran several detailed searches of period newspapers for all states from 1861 to 1925 at the Library of Congress Chronicling America site and a separate one of Georgia newspapers from 1861 to 1925 using a variety of combinations, with and without hyphenation. There were zero results indicating anyone - North or South - used the words trouser and suspender or "trouser-suspender" or those words in any other proximity to reference any flag. Then I ran a google search - thinking maybe it was mentioned in a book somewhere, but the only results were yours - here and at other civil war message boards.
it is something you find in personal journals & letters at the time of Johnston's order. It is not a respectful reference, the soldiers were not at all pleased to turn in their battle stained flags for Joe Johnston's flag. The first time I saw it was one of the Confederate Congressmen's reaction to the design. Greg Biggs would be my go to on that. I doubt if it is important enough to be cited anywhere outside of personal correspondence. (I found the reference to the flag "looking lik a pair suspenders" I was looking for in the Encyclopedia Virginia.)
 
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Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I am preparing for the anniversary programs at Stones River National Battlefield where at least six Confederate battle flags, not one of which is your 'THE" flag. Frankly, I am not "saying" anything. It is what the Confederate congress & army didn't say that matters here. It is the historical record that matters, not some gratuitous comment by me.

Encyclopedia Virginia: "Miles resurrected what had been his preference for the national flag... a blue saltire... with a whit border & what stars on a field of red. The Committee on the Flag & Seal had rejected it the first time, suggesting that it looked "like a pair of suspenders."

When it was submitted to the committee, it was rejected a second time. Beauregard & Johnston decided to use it anyway. In September 1861, they met at Fairfax Court House to work out the details. It was Jonston who advocated for the square design that became the symbol of the A.o.N.V.

The record of the Committee on the Flag & Seal is unambiguous, not only was the Miles design not "THE" Confederate flag or battle flag, it was rejected twice with derisive remarks. Many of the remarks of the disgruntled Army of Tennessee veterans were way more than just derisive.
 
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Below is the actual Confederate Battle Flag sewn by Mrs. Hetty Cary and presented to General Joseph E. Johnston at Centreville, Va. on 28 Nov 1861. The Confederate Battle Flags that followed were patterned after this one and the other two which were sewn about the same time by Constance and Jenny Cary, all from Baltimore, Maryland, who also presented their Battle Flags to General`s Beauregard and Van Dorn at the same ceremony on the same day in which General Joseph E. Johnston was presented his.


Below are the actual Confederate Battle Flags sewn by Constance and Jenny Cary and presented to Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Earl Van Dorn at Centreville, Va. on 28 Nov 1861.



I am not aware of any Confederate Battle Flags being sewn, presented and flown on a field of battle before these three which were sewn by the Cary women beginning in August and September of 1861 and presented to Johnston, Beauregard and Van Dorn on 28 Nov 1861 so they would be the original Confederate Battle Flags and even though the Confederate Congress did not declare them officially as "the" Confederate Battle Flag through an Act of Congress they were certainly adopted by the Confederate Military as their Battle Flags. Every thing else came after. The only Confederate Flag before them was the First National Flag.

Nicola Marshall designed the First National Confederate Flag on 28 Feb 1861 at his studio in Marion, Alabama, which was first hoisted and flown over the Provisional Confederate States Capitol at Montgomery, Alabama at the State House on 1 March 1861, just 3 days before President-Elect Abraham Lincoln would be sworn in as the 16th President of the United States of America on 4 Mar 1861.
 
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John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
View attachment 338557
"The" Confederate Battle Flag Does Not Exist.

Despite the bazillion times you have heard or seen the phrase, 'The Confederate Battle Flag', no such thing ever existed. The reason for that is that there never was a single official Confederate battle flag. In the U.S. Army, there was a blue battle flag assigned to every regiment. It had a standard pattern dictated by regulation. In the Confederate service, each army commander had the option to order a battle flag design for his army or not. The square headquarters/commanding officer's flag above with its gold stars & fringe, is the type Gen Joseph Johnston ordered the soon to be designated Army of Northern Virginia to adopt. He also commanded the Army of Tennessee to adopt the rectangular naval jack design. The reason he went to the rectangular jack design is because it flows out into the wind better than the square A.o.V. design.

The Confederate Congressional Committee on the Flag & Seal rejected the William Miles flag design the first time it was submitted. The committee complained that it looked "like a pair of suspenders. It was rejected a second time, but Beauregard & Johnston decided to use it despite official denial. It was Johnston who ordered the square design that the Army of Northern Virginia made famous.

What is a battle flag? A battle flag is a marker. Imagine ten thousand people dressed alike all lined up. How can you make out who is who & where they are? The battle flag not only gives a visual indicator to a brigade commander, e.g., as to where his regiments are in the line, it is a rally point for the men. In the advance or retreat or when forming up, the battle flag indicated to the men where they should go. Battle flags are carried & apart for headquarters, are never supposed to be flown on flag poles.

View attachment 338558

This is General Bragg's design that was used by his division at Shiloh. The six pointed stars are the correct heraldic shape. They should be gold & represent the golden spurs of a knight. The wide pink border was the result of the material available when the flags were sewn. Some of the Army of Northern Virginia's flags were pink, not red because there wasn't enough red material. Red was a popular trim material, but was not available in large bolts.

View attachment 338559

General Bishop Leonidas Polk's Corps, Army of Tennessee carried this design at Stones River.

View attachment 338560

Also at Stones River, was General McCowen's simple white X on a blue field design. The red triangles indicates individual regiments of the corps. As you might imagine, the narrow white X was almost impossible to see at any distance.

View attachment 338561

General Hardee's corps of the Army of Tennessee carried its iconic full moon battle flags right up until the end of the war. When General Johnston ordered the A.o.T. to hand in their battle flags of many colors & replace them with the "trouser suspender" flag from Virginia, there was a great deal of discontent. In General Patric Cleburne's division, the resistance to the change reached almost to the level of open mutiny. Upon sober consideration, Cleburne's division was allowed to keep their battle flag. The simple circle on a blue field was only one version of the flag. Depending on the whim of the contractor, I guess, the center ball was oblong, a square with the corners rounded off & at least one a sort of eccentric hand dipped chocolate candy form.

View attachment 338562

This actually is THE Confederate flag, at least for a while. Referred to as the First National, this flag was the national flag of the Confederacy. Individual regiments may or may not have been issued a national flag. Union regiments had both a national & regimental flag. For a variety of reasons, national flags were relatively uncommon on Civil War battlefields. This design was later replaced by a white flag with an Army of Northern Virginia battle flag as the canton. Known as the Stainless Banner, the committee who approved it hadn't noticed that the white flag, at any distance or in a light wind looked.... well... like a white flag, i.e., indicating surrender. In one of those rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic affairs that marked the waining days of the Confederate Government, a broad vertical red stripe was added to the fly end of the flag. What records that still exist indicate that the Third National was issued only to a limited degree during the final days of the Confederacy.

I have only displayed a token of the battle flags of the Confederacy. The Army of Tennessee had eight different battle flags. The commanders held events where divisions lined up & the battle flags were paraded back & forth so the men would recognize the flags of their army.

In the early days of the war, every platoon sized unit in the new Confederate army had its own battle flag. The flags bearing heroic names & fanciful designs of those naive days still exist in large numbers. As the hometown heroes were consolidated into official state regiments, their battle flags were sent home. You can find many of them on state historical society websites. The same is true of the various patterns of Confederate battle flags that were captured & then returned after the turn of the 20th Century.

View attachment 338566
Battle flag of the 40th Regiment Mississippi Volunteer Infantry is one of my personal favorites.

View attachment 338567

This is the only known example of an informal Army of the Cumberland artillery guidon to still exist, in this case The Chicago Board of Trade Battery. Both sides had small guidons used by the artillery or mounted on the bayonets of sergeants in the infantry. Very few of them survived the war. It is not a battle flag. Guidons were used, in the case of the artillery, to indicate where the casinos were to form a line after dropping the cannons of a battery.

View attachment 338571

A yellow flag with a green H indicated the position of a hospital. Small yellow or red guidons were posted along the approaches to the hospital site to direct wounded & ambulances.

View attachment 338574
U.S. Army flag chart in the back of the Official Military Atlas of the Civil War

Genral Hookder ordered General Dan Butterfield to create a marker flag system for the Army of the Potomac. The simple, easy to read from a distance system of flags Butterfield developed was adopted U.S. Army wide. Historians mark the corps symbols developed at Hooker's command as the beginning of the shoulder patch designs in used today.

The advantage of Butterfield's system was that it was possible to recognize the corps, division or battalion a unit belonged to very accurately, even with just a glance. Army commander's flag was a blue burgee (swallow tail) with the corps emblem. Red, white & blue indicated first, second & third division or brigade. Good design is simple design & General Butterfield achieved that goal.

View attachment 338578

By way of comparison with General Butterfield's system, the one General Rosecran's approved for the Army of the Cumberland was a failure. This is the flag of the 20th Corps, 3rd Division, 3rd Brigade. As you. can see, at any distance or if it was windy, it would have been impossible to make out. As far as anyone knows, the pink corps flags ordered were never made, too bad. It would have been pretty cool to carry one at one of our National Park programs.

So, now, when someone writes or says "The Confederate Flag" or "The Confederate Battle Flag" you will squinch up your eye, purse your mouth & look heavenward just like I do. Aint knowledge wonderful?

Greg Biggs of Clarksville TN is without a doubt the premiere Civil War vexillologist. google his name for detailed information on this subject.
Then what was the "Bonny Blue Flag" or the "Flag with the Single Star"?How did this "flag" become recognized thought out the South as the Battle flag? Every painting or movie which I have seen this is the flag that is identified as THAT flag.Someone should inform the extreme clans that for all these years that they have carried the wrong flag but then they could still carry the Union flag which they have carried along with THIS flag; no one protest when they carry the Union flag .UNION is the American flag.Question'-Florida's state flag is the state seal on top of the Cross of Saint Andrew, was one of the first flags of the Confederacy the Cross of Saint Andrew ? Was this battle flag with the Stars and Bars both the battle and Confederate flag? Was this battle flag carried by the army in the West,on the other side of the Ms.armies ?Was it not the flag for the ANV and accepted as the battle flag by the other states ? In the war divisions would carry their divisional flags/battle flags on both the North and South,so these flags which you show could be as those? just wondering no disagreement meant
 
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Jan 29, 2019
Then what was the "Bonny Blue Flag" or the "Flag with the Single Star"?How did this "flag" become recognized thought out the South as the Battle flag?

Regarding the blue field with the single star upon it, it was also used quite frequently representing numerous companies and regiments that were raised and formed in various counties of Alabama in early 1861 and 1862. The 2nd Alabama Cavalry`s Regimental Flag portrayed an image of a small flag with a single star and blue background with Alabama written, being held in the left hand of the Goddess of Liberty and the sword of justice unsheathed in her right hand, with Independent Now and Forever written upon it. Which was directly influenced from the Alabama Precession Flag (18 Dec 1860 at Mobile), as well as the Alabama Secession Flag of January 1861.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Then what was the "Bonny Blue Flag" or the "Flag with the Single Star"?How did this "flag" become recognized thought out the South as the Battle flag? Every painting or movie which I have seen this is the flag that is identified as THAT flag.Someone should inform the extreme clans that for all these years that they have carried the wrong flag but then they could still carry the Union flag which they have carried along with THIS flag; no one protest when they carry the Union flag .UNION is the American flag.Question'-Florida's state flag is the state seal on top of the Cross of Saint Andrew, was one of the first flags of the Confederacy the Cross of Saint Andrew ? Was this battle flag with the Stars and Bars both the battle and Confederate flag? Was this battle flag carried by the army in the West,on the other side of the Ms.armies ?Was it not the flag for the ANV and accepted as the battle flag by the other states ? In the war divisions would carry their divisional flags/battle flags on both the North and South,so these flags which you show could be as those? just wondering no disagreement meant
If you google the history of confederate flags, all will be revealed.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Regarding the blue field with the single star upon it, it was also used quite frequently representing numerous companies and regiments that were raised and formed in various counties of Alabama in early 1861 and 1862. The 2nd Alabama Cavalry`s Regimental Flag portrayed an image of a small flag with a single star and blue background with Alabama written, being held in the left hand of the Goddess of Liberty and the sword of justice unsheathed in her right hand, with Independent Now and Forever written upon it. Which was directly influenced from the Alabama Precession Flag (18 Dec 1860 at Mobile), as well as the Alabama Secession Flag of January 1861.

The first use of a blue field with a white star that I am aware of was the short-lived filibuster Republic of West Florida, which was duly annexed in 1810.

The late Spanish colonial government authorized the issue of various crude copper "jolas" or coins since there was never enough "small change." A small copper jola minted in San Antonio de Béxar, the de la Garza coin, bore a five-pointed star and the date 1818, which may be the first time the lone star appeared in Texas history. As far as flags go, the 1819 filibusters of the Dr. James Long expedition, moving to exploit the difficulties of the Spanish viceregal regime in New Spain, and wholly dissatisfied with the Adams-Onís Treaty provisions as far as the border between Louisiana and Texas was concerned, brought a thirteen red-and-white horizontal strip flag with a red field and a single white lone star.

The first Texas Lone Star flag was that of Burnet, which bore a single gold star on a blue field. It was replaced in 1839 by the current Lone Star flag.

There is a mostly mythological flag, which may have been proposed, but never made, called the Závala flag, in which the letters "T-E-X-A-S" appear in the angles of the star, but it is certain that this flag was used as a battle flag by Hood's Brigade.

In addition, there were any number of Confederate battle flags used by Texas forces that bore the common salitre, either blue on a red field, or reversed with a red salitre on a blue field. My understanding of the post-Civil War Redemption/Lost cause banner has it that it was set to precise ratios and dimensions in 1912. About the time all the monuments to Confederate war dead were going up all over, like UNC-Chapel Hill's "Silent Sam" for example. I might point out that the first three decades of the 20th Century was when very many flags received a much more exacting and precise treatment, including the U.S. Old Glory and the tricolor of Mexico as but two examples. Some nations update the dimensions of the other emblems or symbols of the flag quite frequently, for example, Mexico, which last updated the eagle with the snake standing on the nopal cactus in 1968.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
FedericoFCavada, thanks for informing us of what you wrote above in post #16, I had no idea of much of it. Below is the Lone Star on a Blue Field design chosen for the Alabama Precession Flag which was adopted on 18 Dec 1860. Which led to the Alabama Secession Flag that was decided upon on 11 Jan 1861.

Follow the links below:




The January 11, 1861 Alabama secession flag, was used to design the Regimental flag of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry, which led them into action every time that they took the field of battle or were engaged in skirmishes and fights against the enemy, certainly also accompanied by the Confederate battle flag. Leading up to Secession and the Civil War, a group of Montgomery women had designed and completed the original Alabama secession banner for the Alabama Secession Convention which was held on 11 Jan 1861 at the State House in Montgomery. Alabama was the 4th Southern State to secede from the Union on January 11, 1862; only after South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida had previously seceded.

On January 16, 1861 a reporter from the Montgomery Weekly Advertiser described the flag in the following manner:

"on one side is a representation of the Goddess of Liberty, holding in her right hand a sword unsheathed, and in her left, a small flag with one star. In an arch just above this figure are the words, 'Alabama-Independent Now and Forever.' On the reverse, the prominent figure is a cotton plant, with a rattlesnake coiled at its roots. Immediately above the snake are the words 'Noli me tangere.' Also on the same side, appears the Coat of Arms of Alabama."

Apparently, the flag continued to fly above the Capitol until February 10, 1861 when it was removed by Alexander Klitherall, W. J. Greene, Ferie Henshaw and J. J. Hooper, after it had sustained a great deal of damage due to a severe storm. In a letter to Governor Andrew B. Moore, they explained that the flag

"was left flying last night from the dome of the capitol. We found it this morning, though torn, still flying, and being satisfied that in a few hours, the gale, now blowing, would entirely destroy it; we have taken the responsibility of hauling it down: and now deliver it to you, that it may be placed among the archives of the state."

The flag remained in the Capitol and may have been placed in a "hall of flags" which was being used as a repository for retired regimental colors.

Not exactly sure what type of Regimental flag to carry and lead his troops into battle, Colonel Winston Fountain Hunter, commander of the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, between March and May of 1862 being located in Montgomery, Alabama behind the State House in an open field just to the east of it at Camp Stone (Camp of Instruction), he came across the original in the State House and ordered the design of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regimental flag after the original Alabama Secession flag.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Below is the actual Confederate Battle Flag sewn by Mrs. Hetty Cary and presented to General Joseph E. Johnston at Centreville, Va. on 28 Nov 1861. The Confederate Battle Flags that followed were patterned after this one and the other two which were sewn about the same time by Constance and Jenny Cary, all from Baltimore, Maryland, who also presented their Battle Flags to General`s Beauregard and Van Dorn at the same ceremony on the same day in which General Joseph E. Johnston was presented his.


Below are the actual Confederate Battle Flags sewn by Constance and Jenny Cary and presented to Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Earl Van Dorn at Centreville, Va. on 28 Nov 1861.



I am not aware of any Confederate Battle Flags being sewn, presented and flown on a field of battle before these three which were sewn by the Cary women beginning in August and September of 1861 and presented to Johnston, Beauregard and Van Dorn on 28 Nov 1861 so they would be the original Confederate Battle Flags and even though the Confederate Congress did not declare them officially as "the" Confederate Battle Flag through an Act of Congress they were certainly adopted by the Confederate Military as their Battle Flags. Every thing else came after. The only Confederate Flag before them was the First National Flag.

Nicola Marshall designed the First National Confederate Flag on 28 Feb 1861 at his studio in Marion, Alabama, which was first hoisted and flown over the Provisional Confederate States Capitol at Montgomery, Alabama at the State House on 1 March 1861, just 3 days before President-Elect Abraham Lincoln would be sworn in as the 16th President of the United States of America on 4 Mar 1861.
The reason Beauregard & Johnston wanted to have a standard battle flag was in response to the similarity of the First National to the U.S. Flag & the individual regimental battle flags in use at Manassas that caused confusion. Soldiers were marching behind literally hundreds of Confederate battle flags in November 1861. There never was a single battle flag design authorized by the Confederate army or congress. The pattern of an individual battle flag or corps battle flags was at the discretion of individual army commanders. Bragg preferred to have individual corps flags because they made it possible to identify individual units during a battle. The only armies that used the Johnston style battle flags were those he or General Beauregard commanded. Until the last days of the war, there were battle flags of different designs that were surrendered at war's end.

It is interesting that you mention General Van Dorn. His battle flag design is one of my personal favorites.
battle flag 40th Mississippi.jpg
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
According to the 1 Dec 1861 issue of the Atlanta Intelligencer Newspaper, the Confederate battle flag was announced with a depiction of it which appears to be the Confederate battle flag of which we are all accustomed. Below is the announcement in that publication:

"The new Confederate Flag, in a design presented by General P.G.T. Beauregard, was Thursday distributed to his Troops (28 Nov 1861). Confusion of Confederate and Union Flags at the Battle of Bull Run prompted General Beauregard to ask for a new design. Its field is red; the cross is blue (edged in white), on which are 13 stars, one for each state claimed by the Confederacy."

The depiction of the Flag has underneath it the following inscription: "C. S. A. Battle Flag."

Hetty, Jenny and Constance Cary sewed the first three Confederate battle flags and presented them to General`s Joseph E. Johnston, P.G.T. Beauregard and Earl Van Dorn at a ceremony on 28 Nov 1861 at Centreville, Virginia 25 miles south of Washington, D.C. and 2 miles north of Manasses where the Battle of Bull Run was fought. The design was from P.G.T. Beauregard and Senator William Porcher Miles, because of the confusion created in recognizing the First National Flag during battle, it was too easily confused with the U. S. Flag from the smoke of the battle, so P.G.T. Beauregard proposed designing a new battle flag to identify the Army on the field of battle and a Government Flag which would remain the First National Flag. This was in September of 1861, which is when the Cary Sisters, Hetty and Jennie along with their cousin Constance began sewing the Flags.
The Atlanta Intelligencer report was, according to somebody who knows way more about this than I do, written under the mistaken impression the flag was going to be the new national flag replacing the First National. The article is not about a battle flag at all.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
It is interesting that you mention General Van Dorn. His battle flag design is one of my personal favorites.

The Van Dorn flag that you posted was his regimental colors, which would have been flown in addition to the Confederate battle flag on the field of battle. This was common, just as I stated above in post #17 regarding the 2nd Alabama Cavalry, they flew their regimental flag into battle as well as the Confederate battle flag. Van Dorn was presented one of the three original "Cary" Confederate battle flags along with Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard at Centreville, Va. on 28 Nov 1861 to be used on the field of battle in place of the Confederate First National Flag. Three months later in February of 1862 Van Dorn designed his "regimental colors", which would have accompanied the Confederate battle flag on the field of battle, and ordered that all units under his command use it from that point forward to represent their regimental colors.

Follow the link below for more information on the Van Dorn regimental flag (regimental colors).

 
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