Civil War cannonballs found at the University of Alabama
School of the Piece 2015

Will the real Confederate Flag please stand up?

When one usually thinks of the Confederate flag this usually comes to mind, a flag with a red banner, crisscrossed with with blue stripes and white stars.  This images usually evokes very strong emotions, for some it is a symbol of racism and hatred.  For others it is a symbol of southern pride and heritage.  While for others it can be a symbol of rebellion.  However, during the American Civil War, this was one of many flags that was used to symbolize the Confederacy, and in fact a wide variety of flags and banners were used by Confederate forces.  The Confederacy was exactly what it was named after, a Confederacy (which is a loose union of independent states).  As a result each was almost like its own independent nation, and chose their own Confederate flags to take into battle.

The Official Flag, the Stars and Bars

Unbeknownst to many today, this was the official flag of the Confederacy through most of the Civil War.  At first it was the exclusive flag carried into battle by Confederate forces.  However there was a problem with this.  It resembled the Union Stars and Stripes flag so much that it was not uncommon for it to cause confusion and even friendly fire incidents on the battlefield.  As a result each Confederate state was encouraged to create their own battle flag.  The Stars and Bars, meanwhile, would only be used in government buildings and courts. Quizzically it had 13 stars representing 13 states, however only 11 states succeeded from the Union.  The other two represent Kentucky and Missouri, which were states that were officially part of the Union, but unofficially were under dispute during the Civil War.

The Flag of the Army of Northern Viriginia,

Now this more resembles that stereotypical Confederate Flag.  However, this was not the official Confederate flag, rather it was the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.  While initially used by Virginia, eventually this flag would become popular with other states as well, especially Tennessee, which adopted it as their official battle flag, with the modification of using a rectangular shaped flag rather than a square banner.

The Bonnie Blue Flag

A single star on a blue banner, the Bonnie Blue Flag was introduced in Florida around 1810 when a part of West Florida broke away with Spanish Florida.  This flag would become popular with the states of the deep south such as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.

The Louisiana Confederate Flag

Louisiana decided that it would keep the stars and stripes pattern except with a bit of a twist.

The South Carolina Confederate Flag

South Carolina also decided to create their own unique design.

The Second and Third Official Confederate Flag

In 1863 a new official Confederate Flag was adopted to replace the stars and bars.  It feature a large white banner with the Virginia Battle Flag placed in the Union.  The occurred for three big reasons; 1. the Virginia Battle Flag was becoming popular 2. Virginia was gaining more influence in Confederate politics.  3. As Union forces took control of the Mississippi and began carving up the Confederacy, Virginia was becoming more isolated from the rest of the country.  Since the capitol was in Virginia, Virginians were taking control of “official” Confederate matters.

The new flag also had it problems, chiefly that the large white banner was often mistaken for a flag of truce, especially at sea.  As a result, in march of 1865, a large red vertical strip was added.  The war would end a month later.

From Peashooter85 on Tumblr

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