Confederate National and Bonnie Blue Flags


The Bonnie Blue Flag
(Flag Of Secession)

       The lone star flag originates from the secessionist, but short lived,'Patriot Armies of the West Florida Republic' in 1810.  Republican forces, commanded of Colonel Philemon Thomas, set out on 11 September 1810 to captured the Spanish provincial capitol of Baton Rouge.  With these forces was a troop of West Florida Dragoons, under the command of Major Isaac Johnson.  Carried at the head of the column was a blue flag with a single, five-pointed white star.  This flag had been made a few days before by Mrs. Melissa Johnson.
         These forces successfully captured Baton Rouge, without loss to themselves, and on September 23 1810, raised the 'Bonnie Blue Flag' over the fort.  Three days later the president of the West Florida Convention signed a Declaration of Independence and thus flag the became the emblem of a new republic.
       
On October 27 1810, President James Madison issued a proclamation declaring West Florida under the jurisdiction of the governor of the Louisiana Territory.  By 10 December President Madison, President of the United States, issued a proclamation declaring West Florida under the jurisdiction of the Governor of the Louisiana Territory.
        The memory of the West Florida movement continued to live on in Southern tradition.  So 26 years later the Republic of Texas, 1836 to 1839, originally adopted a blue flag with a large white star and the name Texas between the points.
       As the secession crisis intensified the'Bonnie Blue Flag' gradually became the unofficial banner of independence and self-government for the Southern states.  It was adopted by the people and waved prominently at political rallies and parades.
       Many states used variations of this flag, but not all of the lone star flags were blue many were of other colors as were the stars.  But the single star ties them all together. In January 1861 Mississippi officially adopted the 'Bonnie Blue Flag' and it was incorporated as a canton in the flag of the new Republic of Mississippi. 
       With Mississippi's secession document being signed on the 9 January 1861 a ceremony was held at the capitol building at Jackson when large blue flag bearing a single white star, the 'Bonnie Blue Flag', was raised over the building.
       While to the people this flag represented 'The South' and the Confederate government considered it along with others as the national flag.

 


The First National
(The Stars & Bars) 4th March 1861 - 1st May 1863

       When Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the Confederate States on 18 February 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama the flag that was flown was that of Alabama as during its first days of existence the Confederacy had no official flag.
       During its first days of existence the 'Bonnie Blue Flag' was widely used as the unofficial Confederate flag and came to symbolize the South and the Southern Cause.
       There was so much affection for the US flag that well over 50 percent of the submissions for the Confederate flag resembled it. well over 50 percent.  Of the many submitted to the 'Committee for a proper flag for the Confederate States of America' the  final design chosen was claimed by two men Nicola Marschall, a Prussian artist living in Montgomery, Alabama and Orren Randolph Smith, a resident of North Carolina.
       In 1915 the United Confederate Veterans accepted Smiths claim.  In 1931 the Alabama Department of Archives and History accepted Marschall's claim.
       It is quite possible that the true designer was Nicola Marschall because as a Prussian he would most likely have known the Austria flag, which originated in the year 1191 and which it resembles.  This is red, white, red.  Add to this a blue canton and seven white stars and you have the 'Stars and Bars.'
       As many people submitted flag designs based on that of the United States it could quite possibly be that both men had submitted very similar flags and that both men's claims are correct.
       When the flag was first raised in March 1861,over the capitol building in Montgomery, it had seven stars those of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.  In May these were joined by Arkansas and Virginia.  In July by North Carolina & Tennessee.  In December by Kentucky and Missouri, although both these states had Confederate and Union governments.
        The stars range from 7 (the original members) to 15.  These include the 11 members, 2 states that had representatives in both congresses, namely Missouri and Kentucky, and 2 representing those states which were occupied by the Federal government, Maryland, who attempted to secede but who's legislature was disbanded, & many arrested, and Delaware a slave state.  The most common flags had 11 stars. 
       One interesting variation to these was that of Nathan Bedford Forest who carried a twelve star version saying that 'as long as a Yankee remains on Georgia's soil' he would not include their star.
       Another interesting variation was that of Stand Waite (Stanhope Watte), commander of the Cherokee Brigade.  This was based on the Stars and Bars and in the blue canton was eleven white stars in a circle these representing the 11 white States, with five red ones representing the five Indian nations that fought for the Confederacy, the Seminoles, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees and Creek Indians.  In the central bar was inscribed "CHEROKEE BRAVES".
       The freedom loving Germans who were flooding into the country after their own civil war mainly shunned the South and called the Confederate flags Klapperschlangenflagge (Rattlesnake Flag).
        Alt
hough this flag was eventually replaced by two other national flags, as well as battle flags in the army, the First National flag was the only Confederate flag that was used in combat from the beginning to the end of the war. Examples were captured at Appomattox, and during battles in the West in late 1864. 


The Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag
(The Southern Cross)

       With the adoption of the 1st National flag military units, on both regimental and company level, adopted this as a battle flag and it was carried in the early battles.
       The quite deliberate similarities of design and colour of the 'Stars and Bars' to the 'Stars and Stripes' caused confusion when viewed at a distance through the smoke of a Civil War battlefield both Confederate and Federal troops at the battle of Manassas (Bull Run) suffered needless casualties with friendly fire incidents. This problem was compounded by 'The dress of the volunteers on both sides at the time was very similar' (Jubal Early.)
       Due to this General Beauregard attempted to have the Confederate flag changed. Congressman William Porter (Porcher) Miles suggested that the army adopt its own battle flag.  This was agreed and it was suggested that it be made square as it would be less likely to snag on such things as bayonets, branches, and bushes, it would also save cloth. Miles had submitted a design for the National flag which had been rejected. When Generals Beaureguard, Joseph Johnson, and Gustavus Smith met to decide on a 'Battle Flag' for the the Army of the Potomac, to become the Army of Northern Virginia, they decided on Miles design.  This flag was supposed to come in three sizes; 48 inches square for infantry units; 36 inches square for artillery units; 30 inches square for cavalry.
       With the design decided examples were needed these were made by three Southern Belles, who resided in Richmond. 'Another incident of note, during the autumn of '61, was that to my cousins, Hetty and Jennie Cary, and to me was entrusted the making of the first three battle-flags of the Confederacy.  They were jaunty squares of scarlet crossed with dark blue edged in white, the cross bearing stars to indicate the number of the seceded States. We set our best stitches upon them, edged with gold fringed, and, when they were finished, dispatched one to Johnston, another to Beauregard, and the third to Earl Van Dorn... The banners were received with all possible enthusiasm; were toasted, feted, and cheered abundantly.' Remembered Constance Cary the other one of the trio.  Finding suitable material was difficult but they were made from red silk for the fields and blue silk for the crosses with a male friend painting on the crosses.  The design was excepted and put into production.  Some units gave it a colored border, usually yellow or white.
       
This flag was never to be adopted by the Confederate Congress but it was by the War Department on October 1, 1862.  But now-a-days it's the best known Confederate flag.  In 1904 United Confederate Veterans Committee on Flags reported that 'The Battle flag is square, having a Greek (St Andrews. Gazkhan) Cross of blue, edged with white, with thirteen equal white pointed stars; upon a red field; the whole bordered with white'.  This flag was carried by the vast majority of the cavalry, infantry and artillery units in the Army of Northern Virginia.
       
It should be born in mind that  Eastern and Western Battle Flag designs differed in that the western flags had no border and were rectangular instead of square.  The western design is the most common Confederate flag seen today.
       One of the most prevailing myths about the Confederate Army is that it's troops fought under only one pattern of battle flag that of the Army of Northern Virginia, for a start the design was adopted for an army that was at the time called the Army of the Potomac.  Next Confederate units served under a myriad of battle flags some didn't resemble this more famous one, this was done on an army or corps basis, rather than in a centralized manner.
        November 20 was the date when the first of the120 silk Army of Northern Virginia flags, at the time bearing only 12 stars, were issued to the army at Centreville Virginia with the issue ending in early December.
 


The Second National
(the Stainless Banner) 1st May 1863 - 4th March 1865

        Many regiments carried the 2nd National flag, but did use the very long fly ones, they were issued especially shortened ones to carry into battle.
        Unhappiness over the 1st National was voiced from the very beginning, not only by the military but also, by the civil population. Many were unhappy that it so resembled the Federal flag and as the casualties mounted so did its unpopularity. Since the national colors were proudly displayed on the battlefield and were still easily confused with 'Old Glory' the Confederate Congress decided to retire the 'Stars and Bars'.  Due to this they adopted a new design for the Confederacy's national flag.
       This replacement flag was purposely distinctive so it could not be confused with the Federal army's flag and was twice as long as it was wide, much longer than the 3:2 ratio of most flags. It gave recognition to the Confederate military with the'Battle Flag' holding prominence and the white to symbolize the purity of the struggle.
       It's first official task was to cover the coffin of Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan 'Stonewall' Jackson when he lay in state in the House of Representatives on 12 May.  Jackson was while wounded at Chancellorsville and had died of pneumonia on 10th May 1863.  This flag is on display in the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond.


 The Third National 4th March 1865

       Although it solved the problem of confusion with the Federal flag from the day of its adoption the 2nd National produced problems.  On a calm day, due to it's length, it was hard for the wind to open it and when the flag hung limply  in the midst of battle it's long white field often made it look like a flag of truce or surrender.
        The Third National was proposed in the Confederate Congress in December 1864, it had little to no competition from other patterns, it was published in newspapers across the land as the new national flag.  Examples of it were flying as soon as January 1865, well before the official adoption date in March.
It was created by shortening the 'Stainless Banner' to the standard ratio and by adding red vertical stripe on the fly. 
       As the war ended shortly after it's adoption very few were ever manufactured so that it never had time to acquired a nickname.  In many areas, such as Charleston and Fort Sumpter, it was never even flown.


1st Naval Jack 1861-3

       This is the original naval jack flown by Confederate warships, jacks in use in this period probably could be found with star numbers ranging from seven to thirteen.  Navy jacks are just the cantons of the National flag in a rectangular shape.  This idea is copied directly from the British Navy.  These are not flown at sea but only when in port, or while entering or leaving a port, or when fully dressed in naval parade colours.  The staff from which a jack is flown is often removed when the ship is not in port, supposedly  to keep it clear of the forward field of fire when in combat.  One illustrated above from the CSS Atlanta.
       Among the other flags were flown on Confederate warships these were'ensigns'.  The ensign of the Confederate States Navy was the same as the national flag pattern of 1861-3.   It was flown from the stern of a ship, usually from a gaff on ships rigged for sail, and on an ensign staff on steamers without sails and ironclad gunboats.  Navy ensigns will have from seven to thirteen stars.  Navy ensigns will have from seven to thirteen stars.
       Another is
a commission pennant.  This indicates that the ship on which it is flown is commissioned in the naval service of its government.  Only naval vessels, and other vessels in government service fly a pennant.  In the Confederate Navy the pennant of 1861-3 was based on the 1st National flag.  The pennant apparently had stars corresponding in number to the States in the Confederacy and three stripes, these were of red, white, and red.  The pennant could have from seven to thirteen stars.  From 1863 It was based on the 2nd National.


2nd Naval Jack 1863-5

       Many people generally recognized this flag as the symbol of the South but it never flew over any official building in the Confederacy.  It was not the official flag of the Confederate States of America nor the Battle flag.  It was flown primarily on Confederate naval vessels, and was also used by a few units in the'Army of Tennessee', one of the main forces in the Western field of operations.  Today it is the most commonly seen Confederate flag, mainly because its dimensions are similar to those of the United States flag and this is convenient for the flag manufacturers.


Confederate States Revenue Service

        The Revenue Service flag on 10 April 1861, and was designed by Dr. HP (or HD] Capers of South Carolina.  This is a modified 1st National, by arranging the colors vertically, and in so doing eliminating one of the red bars.  With the addition of a circle of seven stars at the upper hoist.  (The one illustrated is from the CSS McClellan.)