"The" Confederate Battle Flag Does Not Exist.

Joined
Jan 29, 2019
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.

The article in the 1 Dec 1861 issue of the Atlanta Intelligencer Newspaper, included a sketch of the Confederate battle flag and underneath it was written: "C. S. A. Battle Flag." Below that was the article itself. Beauregard was very specific in why he and Senator William Porcher Miles saw the need for and were designing a "new" Confederate battle flag because of confusion created between the Confederate First National Flag and the United States Flag on the field of battle. Beauregard was not suggesting that the Confederate battle flag would replace the First National Flag as the Confederate Government Flag, only on the field of battle with the understanding that the First National Flag would still exist and be used to represent the Confederate States of America. So the Atlanta Intelligencer got it right in the article.
 
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Rhea Cole

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The article in the 1 Dec 1861 issue of the Atlanta Intelligencer Newspaper, included a sketch of the Confederate Battle Flag and underneath it was written: "C. S. A. Battle Flag." Below that was the article itself. Beauregard was very specific in why he and Senator William Porcher Miles saw the need for and were designing a "new" Confederate Battle Flag because of confusion created between the Confederate First National Flag and the United States Flag on the field of battle. Beauregard was not suggesting that the Confederate Battle Flag would replace the First National Flag as the Confederate Government Flag, only on the field of Battle with the understanding that the First National Flag would still exist and be used to represent the Confederate States of America. So the Atlanta Intelligencer got it right in the article.
You are correct, I misspoke. There was a great deal of press at the time concerning the need to replace the First National, which was what I meant to refer to.
 

TnFed

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The 13th KY Calvary CSA used a flag with a blue field and white christian cross in the middle. Caudills Army was printed across the horizontal bar. Ben Caudill being the colonel of the regiment.
 

Rhea Cole

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The 13th KY Calvary CSA used a flag with a blue field and white christian cross in the middle. Caudills Army was printed across the horizontal bar. Ben Caudill being the colonel of the regiment.
Isnt that a variation of Polk’s corps flag? I am not up on all the ins & outs. There are simply too many battle flags in the western theater to keep track of.
 

Tin cup

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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?

.
You won't change anything! :wink:

Kevin Dally
 

Rhea Cole

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You won't change anything! :wink:

Kevin Dally
Don’t expect to. I have a friend who, even though he lives in Murfreesboro TN thinks anything that happened in Virginia was ten times more important than anything that happened in the West. The trouser flag was the AoV flag, so hundreds of battle flags literally don’t matter.
 

TnFed

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Isnt that a variation of Polk’s corps flag? I am not up on all the ins & outs. There are simply too many battle flags in the western theater to keep track of.
It very well could be. Colonel Caudill was an ordained Baptist Minister before the war. He was captured during the war and preached to fellow inmates and resumed his ministry after the conflict. As he and Polk were both very religious he may have got that idea ftom him but I am not sure.
 
Joined
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Don’t expect to. I have a friend who, even though he lives in Murfreesboro TN thinks anything that happened in Virginia was ten times more important than anything that happened in the West. The trouser flag was the AoV flag, so hundreds of battle flags literally don’t matter.

I think it of great importance to state the distinction between hundreds of different Confederate battalion, regimental, brigade, division and corps battle flags, which were their individual stands of color, and the Confederate army battle flag. Granted as you stated correctly in post #1, the Confederate Congress did not declare through an Act of Congress an "official" Confederate battle Flag through legislation, however, the Confederate army certainly did "adopt" the "Cary" Confederate battle flag, which was presented to General`s Johnston, Beauregard and Van Dorn on 28 Nov 1861, to be flown on the field of battle, in place of the Confederate First National Flag, along with any individual Confederate stands of color representing numerous battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps. Which is what all of the flags were that you posted in post #1. None of which represented the Confederate army as a whole, but rather they were all individual battle flags (stands of color) belonging to specific battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps. The vast majority of them being patterned after the "Cary" Confederate battle flag, but personalized to their specific battalion, regiment, brigade, division or corps.

Along with the individual stands of color (battle flags) from each battalion, regiment, brigade, division and corps would be accompanied by the adopted Confederate army battle Flag ("Cary" Confederate battle flag) on the field of battle. Just as with the Federal army, they flew the United States Flag (Old Glory) on the field of battle in addition to the numerous individual stands of color (battle flags) of each battalion, regiment, brigade, division and corps which took to the field of battle on that day.

The vast majority of the individual Confederate battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps designed their colors after the "Cary" Confederate battle flag which was designed by General P.G.T. Beauregard and Senator William Porcher Miles in August of 1861, sewn by Hetty, Constance and Jenny Cary from Baltimore, Maryland in September and October of 1861 and presented to General`s Johnston, Beauregard and Van Dorn at a ceremony on 28 Nov 1861 at Centreville, Va. to take the place of the First National Flag as the Confederate battle flag due to confusion created between it and the U.S. Flag on the field of battle. Leaving the Confederate First National Flag to continue to represent the government of the Confederate States of America and the "Cary" Confederate battle flag to be used by the Confederate army on the field of battle.

This is how I view it anyway... The Confederate States of America, over the period of 4 years of war, had three different flags representing it, the First, Second and Third National Confederate Flags to represent the Confederate government at various stages from 1861 - 1865. The Confederate army "adopted" one battle flag to represent it on the field of battle, that being the "Cary" Confederate battle flag and then there were hundreds, if not thousands of individual stands of color (battle flags) which represented a plethora of individual battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps, many of which were patterned after the "Cary" Confederate battle flag.
 
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Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I think it of great importance to state the distinction between hundreds of different Confederate battalion, regimental, brigade, division and corps battle flags, which were their individual stands of color, and the Confederate army battle flag. Granted as you stated correctly in post #1, the Confederate Congress did not declare through an Act of Congress an "official" Confederate battle Flag through legislation, however, the Confederate army certainly did "adopt" the "Cary" Confederate battle flag, which was presented to General`s Johnston, Beauregard and Van Dorn on 28 Nov 1861, to be flown on the field of battle, in place of the Confederate First National Flag, along with any individual Confederate stands of color representing numerous battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps. Which is what all of the flags were that you posted in post #1. None of which represented the Confederate army as a whole, but rather they were all individual battle flags (stands of color) belonging to specific battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps. The vast majority of them being patterned after the "Cary" Confederate battle flag, but personalized to their specific battalion, regiment, brigade, division or corps.

Along with the individual stands of color (battle flags) from each battalion, regiment, brigade, division and corps would be accompanied by the adopted Confederate army battle Flag ("Cary" Confederate battle flag) on the field of battle. Just as with the Federal army, they flew the United States Flag (Old Glory) on the field of battle in addition to the numerous individual stands of color (battle flags) of each battalion, regiment, brigade, division and corps which took to the field of battle on that day.

The vast majority of the individual Confederate battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps designed their colors after the "Cary" Confederate battle flag which was designed by General P.G.T. Beauregard and Senator William Porcher Miles in August of 1861, sewn by Hetty, Constance and Jenny Cary from Baltimore, Maryland in September and October of 1861 and presented to General`s Johnston, Beauregard and Van Dorn at a ceremony on 28 Nov 1861 at Centreville, Va. to take the place of the First National Flag as the Confederate battle flag due to confusion created between it and the U.S. Flag on the field of battle. Leaving the Confederate First National Flag to continue to represent the government of the Confederate States of America and the "Cary" Confederate battle flag to be used by the Confederate army on the field of battle.

This is how I view it anyway... The Confederate States of America, over the period of 4 years of war, had three different flags representing it, the First, Second and Third National Confederate Flags to represent the Confederate government at various stages from 1861 - 1865. The Confederate army "adopted" one battle flag to represent it on the field of battle, that being the "Cary" Confederate battle flag and then there were hundreds, if not thousands of individual stands of color (battle flags) which represented a plethora of individual battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions and corps.
You keep saying “Confederate Army Battle flag”. The Army of Tennessee was a Confederate Army. Pembeprton commanded a Confederate Army. Sterling Price commanded a Confederate Army. Albert Sydney Johnston commanded a Confederate Army. Braxton Bragg commanded Confederate Army in Florida. Somebody commanded a Confederate army in Texas. These army commanders all had one thing in common, none of them used the trouser battle flag in their armies.
It is obvious that, for whatever reason, you are impervious to mountains of data that contradicts the existence of an official Confederate Army battle flag, so this is my last post on that subject.
 

scone

2nd Lieutenant
Honored Fallen Comrade
22nd Alabama and & 28th are very amazing many others as well ... I think the what you see in called battle flag became in 1863 .. No clue how many used the old flags or went to the new... 22nd was capture at Snodgrass hill , 28th at orchard Knob … who makes the new flag for the regiment ? And what did it look like ?

interesting post
 

Rhea Cole

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@Rhea Cole congratulations on this really intersting and informative thread. This conversation is why I am a member of CivilWarTalk! Great comments from other members are courteous and on target!!!
Regards
David
Thanks, I am privileged to know Greg Biggs, without a doubt the top expert on Civil War flags in the country. I am an artist, so find the early war battle flags fascinating as folk art. Some of them are so naive... the sad fate of the boys & families associated with them is thought provoking.
 

James N.

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… Greg Biggs of Clarksville TN is without a doubt the premiere Civil War vexillologist. google his name for detailed information on this subject.
Sadly, Greg Boggs is a blowhard who has based all his considerable knowledge on the often imperfect work of his predecessors and refuses to consider any other possibilities based on more recent developments, lest it tarnish his image and reputation. (Spoken from personal experience.)
 

Rhea Cole

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Sadly, Greg Boggs is a blowhard who has based all his considerable knowledge on the often imperfect work of his predecessors and refuses to consider any other possibilities based on more recent developments, lest it tarnish his image and reputation. (Spoken from personal experience.)
I am proud to say that you don't know Greg or anything about him.
 

Punxsy

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View attachment 338629
"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 338635

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 338634

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.

View attachment 338630

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 338636
This McCowan Pattern battle flag belonged to Turnbull's 30th Arkansas Regiment. The McCowan flag was at Stones River.

View attachment 338631

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.

View attachment 338633
General Van Dorn's battle flag is one of my personal favorites. This is a reproduction of the 15th Arkansas Northwest Regiment.

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


View attachment 338640
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.

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.
Wow!
 

James N.

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I am proud to say that you don't know Greg or anything about him.
Unfortunately, I know FAR too much about him from previous personal experience - I could easily go into details, but this thread isn't the proper place for it. You can be as proud as you like.
 

19thGeorgia

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There was no law that established a battle flag, but the law of May 1, 1863 (Second National flag) gave it a belated recognition-

"President Jefferson Davis signed the bill into law the same afternoon, on May 1 , 1863. The flag act specified that the new flag was to be a white field "with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be a square of two-thirds the width of the flag..."
-The Confederate Battle Flag by John M. Coski, p.17
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
There was no law that established a battle flag, but the law of May 1, 1863 (Second National flag) gave it a belated recognition-

"President Jefferson Davis signed the bill into law the same afternoon, on May 1 , 1863. The flag act specified that the new flag was to be a white field "with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be a square of two-thirds the width of the flag..."
-The Confederate Battle Flag by John M. Coski, p.17
It just goes to show how Army of Northern Virginia-centric Richmond was.
 
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