The Many Confederate Flags

During the Civil War, the United States of America (USA) and the Confederate States of America (CSA) had different flags. The US flag looked the same then as it does now, except there were fewer stars. The confederate states used three different flags at different times and also had a special slag just for battle.
Flags were important in Civil War battles because they helped tell which side was which. During the fighting, thick smoke from gunpowder, burning plants and dust often filled the air, making it extremely hard to see and even to breath. Many times only a flag was visible to tell you where your side was and where your unit was going. The flag represented one’s ideals and hopes and it was considered a disgrace for it to be captured by the enemy.

1. The First Confederate Flag, “Stars and Bars” 1861

When the Southern states seceded from the Union, each state wanted to use it’s own flag, instead of the Union’s “Stars and Stripes”. Soon it was decided that one flag was needed to represent the whole Confederate Nation and a national flag was designed. The blue canton {upper corner} of the US flag was kept, a star representing each state. The thirteen stripes were changed to three wide, alternating red and white stripes. The stripes looked like bars, so this flag was called the “stars and Bars”.

2. The Confederate Battle Flag, “Southern Cross” 1861

During the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, the Confederate commanders had great trouble distinguishing their flag from the Union flag. General P.G.T. Beaurguard, whose ships had bombarded Ft. Sumter three months earlier, in April, designed a Confederate Battle Flag. A square flag with 13 stars crossing it to represent the states of the Confederacy, it was far easier to distinguish from the Union flag in battle. Though never authorized the Confederate Congress, it was used throughout the war.

3. The Second Confederate National Flag, “Stainless Banner” 1863-1865

However, the actual National Confederate Flag or “Stars and Bars” was widely used in battle and was still far too similar to the “Star and Stripes” of the Union and again, easily confused in battle, so the Confederate flag was modified. The Confederate Battle Flag, or Southern Cross, was placed in the canton and the rest of the flag was white. This flag was referred to as the “Stainless Banner” but this time it was easily mistaken for the white flag of truce, which created even more confusion on the battlefield. The flag was changed again.

4. The Third Confederate National Flag, March 1865

The only difference between this flag and the second national flag was the addition of a vertical red bar covering the right half of the white field. This flag was used to represent the Confederacy for the remainder of the war. Under this flag, General Robert Edward Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses Simpson at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, in April 1865.

5. The Confederate Battle Flag, “Southern Cross” Current

The Square Confederate Flag is still flown or displayed in a rectangular form by many Southerns and Southern institutions. The Battle Flag was never the National Flag representing the Confederacy and it’s ideals but rather, it represented the Confederacy intention to literally fight for those ideals, in battle, “to the end”.

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