BLOG 06-THE HISTORY OF THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
Flags of the Confederate States of America - Confederate
"That the flag of the Confederate States shall be as follows: A red field with a Saint Andrew's cross of blue edged with white and emblazoned with stars."
There were several flags of the Confederate States of America used during its existence from 1861 to 1865. Since the end of the American Civil War, personal and official use of Confederate flags, and of flags derived from these, has continued under some controversy.
The state flags of Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee are all based on Confederate flags. The flag of North Carolina is based on the state's 1861 flag which dates back to the Confederacy and appears to be based on the first Confederate flag. The flag of Alabama and perhaps the flag of Florida also seem to be of Confederate inspiration, although this is disputed.
First National flag ("the Stars and Bars") with 11 stars (2 July 1861 - 28 November 1861)
First National flag ("the Stars and Bars") with 13 stars (28 November 1861 - 1 May 1863)
The first official flag of the Confederacy, called the "Stars and Bars," was flown from March 5, 1861, to May 26, 1863.
The very first national flag of the Confederacy was designed by Prussian artist Nicola Marschall in Marion, Alabama. The Stars and Bars flag was adopted March 4, 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama and raised over the dome of that first Confederate Capitol. Marschall also designed the Confederate uniform.
One of the first acts of the Provisional Confederate Congress was to create the Committee on the Flag and Seal, chaired by William Porcher Miles of South Carolina. The committee asked the public to submit thoughts and ideas on the topic and was, as historian John M. Coski puts it, "overwhelmed by requests not to abandon the 'old flag' of the United States." Miles had already designed a flag that would later become the Confederate battle flag, and he favoured his flag over the "Stars and Bars" proposal. But given the popular support for a flag similar to the U.S. flag ("the Stars and Stripes"), the Stars and Barsdesign was approved by the committee. When war broke out, the Stars and Bars caused confusion on the battlefield because of its similarity to the U.S. flag of the U.S. Army.
Eventually, a total of thirteen stars would be shown on the flag. Its first public appearance was outside the Ben Johnson House in Bardstown, Kentucky. It was also used as a naval ensign. Second national flag ("the Stainless Banner") (1 May 1863 - 4 March 1865)
During the solicitation for the second national flag, there were many different types of designs that were proposed, nearly all making use of the battle flag, which by 1863 had become well known and popular. The new design was specified by the Confederate Congress 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, having the ground red; thereupon a broad saltier [sic] of blue, bordered with white, and emblazoned with mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding in number to that of the Confederate States."
The nickname "stainless" referred to the pure white field. The flag act of 1864 did not state what the white symbolized and advocates offered various interpretations. The most common interpretation is that the white field symbolized the purity of the Cause. The Confederate Congress debated whether the white field should have a blue stripe and whether it should be bordered in red. William Miles delivered a speech for the simple white design that was eventually approved. He argued that the battle flag must be used, but for a national flag it was necessary to emblazon it, but as simply as possible, with a plain white field.
Revised Second National Flag (the Stainless Banner) Confederate Navy battle ensign, with a 1.5:1 ratio
The flags actually made by the Richmond Clothing Depot used the 1.5:1 ratio adopted for the Confederate Navy's battle ensign, rather than the official 2:1 ratio.
Initial reaction to the second national flag was favourable, but over time it became criticized for being "too white". The Columbia Daily South Carolinian observed that it was essentially a battle flag upon a flag of truce and might send a mixed message. Military officers voiced complaints about the flag being too white, for various reasons, including the danger of being mistaken as a flag of truce, especially on naval ships, and that it was too easily soiled.
Third National Flag ("the Blood Stained Banner") (since 4 Mar 1865)
The third national flag was adopted March 4, 1865, just before the fall of the Confederacy. The red vertical stripe was proposed by Major Arthur L. Rogers, who argued that the pure white field of the second national flag could be mistaken as a flag of truce. When hanging limp in no wind,
the coloured corner of the flag could be accidentally hidden, so the flag could easily appear all white.
Rogers lobbied successfully to have his design introduced in the Confederate Senate. He defended his design as having "as little as possible of the Yankee blue", and described it as symbolizing the primary origins of the people of the South, with the cross of Britain and the red bar from the flag of France.
Bonnie Blue Flag-Unofficial Southern Flag
In addition to the national flags, a wide variety of flags and banners were flown by Southerners during the War. Most famously, the "Bonnie Blue Flag" was used as an unofficial flag during the early months of 1861. In addition, many military units had their own regimental flags they would carry into battle.
The Battle Flag of the Confederacy.
At the First Battle of Manassas, the similarity between the Stars and Bars and the Stars and Stripes caused confusion and military problems. Regiments carried flags to help commanders observe and assess battles in the warfare of the era. At a distance, the two national flags were hard to tell apart. In addition, Confederate regiments carried many other flags, which added to the possibility of confusion. After the battle, General P.G.T. Beauregard wrote that he was "resolved then to have [our flag] changed if possible, or to adopt for my command a 'Battle flag', which would be entirely different from any State or Federal flag." He turned to his aide, who happened to be William Porcher Miles, the former chair of Committee on the Flag and Seal. Miles described his rejected national flag design to Beauregard. Miles also told the Committee on the Flag and Seal about the general's complaints and request for the national flag to be changed. The committee rejected this idea by a four to one vote, after which Beauregard proposed the idea of having two flags. He described the idea in a letter to his commander General Joseph E. Johnston: "I wrote to [Miles] that we should have two flags — a peace or parade flag, and a war flag to be used only on the field of battle — but congress having adjourned no action will be taken on the matter — How would it do us to address the War Dept. on the subject of Regimental or badge flags made of red with two blue bars crossing each other diagonally on which shall be introduced the stars, ... We would then on the field of battle know our friends from our Enemies."
Constance Cary Harrison (April 25, 1843 – November 21, 1920) was an American writer. She was also known
as Constance Cary, Constance C. Harrison, and Mrs. Burton Harrison, as well as by her nom de plume, Refugitta. She was married to Burton Harrison, a lawyer and American democratic politician. She and two of her cousins were known as the "Cary Invincible";
the three sewed the first examples of the Confederate Battle Flag.
Monimia and Constance travelled to Culpeper in the summer of 1861 to offer their services to the doctors in the Culpeper General Hospital. In their absence the Union forces commandeered Vaucluse and demolished it in order to construct Ft. Worth as part of the defence system for Washington City.
Refugees of a sort with no place to call home, the Cary family settled in Richmond, VA. When Constance was not writing she and her cousins Jennie and Hetty were known as the “Cary Invincible.” Their exploits may have been depicted in Refugitta’s stories, but it is told by public knowledge that they each sewed a model of the Confederate Battle flag. It would not stray far from truth to speculate that Constance was an ardent secessionist.
Hetty Cary (1836–1892) was the wife of CSA General John Pegram. She is best remembered for making the first three battle flags of the Confederacy (along with her sister and cousin).
Hetty was forced to choose between leaving home and being imprisoned for harbouring Confederate sympathies. She and her sister Jennie smuggled drugs and clothing through the blockade and escaped to Richmond where they resided with their cousin Constance Cary and her mother, who served as the girls' chaperone. The three young ladies became known as the "Cary Invincible."
Jennie and her sister, Hetty Cary (wife of the Confederate general John Pegram), and Cousin Constance were well-known figures during the Civil War, and considered heroines for sewing the first Confederate battle flags.
Jane Margaret ‘Jennie’ Cary (1843-1942)
Younger sister of Hetty Cary
Jennie and her sister, Hetty, smuggled drugs and clothing through the Union blockade, across the Potomac for Confederate troops. They were forced to leave Baltimore after federal authorities discovered their Southern sympathies. They escaped to Richmond, where they then lived with their cousin Constance Cary and her mother, who served as the girls' chaperone. The three young ladies became known as the "Cary Invincible".
"Maryland, My Maryland"
Jennie Cary put the words of James Ryder Randall's poem "Maryland, My Maryland" to the German folk song "Lauriger Hortius", thereby creating what would become the state song of Maryland.
Written originally as a poem by James Randall, the song refers to Maryland's history and geography and specifically mentions several historical figures of importance to the state. The song calls for Maryland to fight the Union and was used across the South during the Civil War as a battle hymn. It has been called America's "most martial poem."
Occasional attempts have been made to replace it as Maryland's state song due to its origin in support for the Confederacy and lyrics that refer to President Lincoln as a "tyrant," "despot," and "Vandal," and to the Union as "Northern scum."
Making of the Confederate Battle Flag
Due to confusion among the troops during the First Battle of Bull Run due to the similar design and colour of the Confederate flag, the Stars and Bars, and the Union flag, the Stars and Stripes, Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard recommended that the Confederate flag be changed.
Constance Cary wrote:
“During the autumn of ‘61, to my cousins, Hetty and Jennie, 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 General Joseph Johnston, another to General Pierre Beauregard, and the last to General Earl Van Dorn. The banners were made from red silk for the fields and blue silk for the crosses.”
The resulting flag, commonly called the Southern Cross, served as the principal battle flag of the cavalry, infantry, and artillery units in the Army of Northern Virginia from November 1861 until the surrender at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.
A picture and article of a woman making the Confederate Flag appeared on one of the history and civil war face book pages which I belong to and I recalled this article which I’m working on for my book so I put it for everyone to see.
NEXT WEEK’S BLOG-
An incident in the early stages of the war that could have brought the might of the European Nations into the conflict-
‘THE TRENT AFFAIR’