In 1956, the State Flag of Georgia was redesigned to incorporate the Confederate Battle Flag. Following protests over this aspect of the design in the 1990s by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other groups, efforts began in the Georgia General Assembly to remove the Battle Flag from the state flag’s design. These efforts succeeded in January 2001 when Georgia Governor Roy Barnes pushed through a design that, though continuing to depict the Battle Flag, greatly reduced its prominence. This move deeply angered a large segment of Georgia’s electorate, contributing to Barnes’ defeat in the subsequent gubernatorial election in November 2002.
The following year, amidst demands for the return of the 1956 design (“Battle Flag” version) and opposing demands for the continued use of the new “Barnes’” design, the Georgia General Assembly redesigned the flag yet again, adopting a “compromise” design based largely on the First National Flag of the Confederacy (known as the “Stars and Bars”).
Flags of the Confederate States of America
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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 to some, but is really derived from Saint Patrick’s Flag of Ireland.
First national flag (“the Stars and Bars”)
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 favored 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 Bars design 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, reflecting the Confederacy’s claims to have admitted Kentucky and Missouri into their union. The first public appearance of the 13-star flag was outside the Ben Johnson House in Bardstown, Kentucky. The 13-star design was also used as the basis of a naval ensign.
Second national flag (“the Stainless Banner”)
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.
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 favorable, 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. This flag is nonetheless a historical symbol of the civil war.
 Third National Flag (“the Blood Stained Banner”)
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 colored 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.
The Flag Act of 1865 describes the flag in the following language: “The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the flag of the Confederate States shall be as follows: The width two-thirds of its length, with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be in width three-fifths of the width of the flag, and so proportioned as to leave the length of the field on the side of the union twice the width of the field below it; to have the ground red and a broad blue saltire thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned with five pointed stars, corresponding in number to that of the Confederate States; the field to be white, except the outer half from the union to be a red bar extending the width of the flag.”
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. The Van Dorn battle flag was also carried by Confederate troops fighting in the Trans-Mississippi and Western theaters of war. In addition, many military units had their own regimental flags they would carry into battle. Other notable flags used are shown below.
<h3The Battle Flag
Often referred to as “The” battle flag of the Confederacy it was the design that was the basis of more than 180 separate Confederate military battle flags.
The Army of Northern Virginia battle flag was usually square, of various sizes for the different branches of the service: 48 inches square for the infantry, 36 inches for the artillery, and 30 inches for the cavalry. It was used in battle beginning in December 1861 until the fall of the Confederacy. The blue color on the saltire in the battle flag was navy blue, as opposed to the much lighter blue of the Naval Jack.
The flag’s stars represented the number of states in the Confederacy. The distance between the stars decreased as the number of states increased, reaching thirteen when the secessionist factions of Missouri and Kentucky joined in late 1861.
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.”
Confederate Flag History
July 7, 2015