Flags of the Confederate States of America

Confederate States of America
Flag of the Confederate States of America (1861-1863).svg
The first national flag of the Confederate States of America with 13 stars
Name "The Stars and Bars"
Use National flag
Adopted March 4, 1861 (first 7-star version)
November 28, 1861 (final 13-star version)
Design Three horizontal stripes of equal height, alternating red and white, with a blue square two-thirds the height of the flag as the canton. Inside the canton are white five-pointed stars of equal size, arranged in a circle and pointing outward.
Designed by Nicola Marschall
Second flag of the Confederate States of America
The second national flag of the Confederate States of America
Name "The Stainless Banner" [a]
Use National flag
Proportion 1:2 [b]
Adopted May 1, 1863
Design A white rectangle two times as wide as it is tall, a red quadrilateral in the canton, inside the canton is a blue saltire with white outlining, with thirteen white five-pointed stars of equal size inside the saltire.
Third flag of the Confederate States of America
The third national flag of the Confederate States of America.
Name "The Blood-Stained Banner"
Use National flag
Proportion 2:3
Adopted March 4, 1865
Design A white rectangle, one-and-a-half times as wide as it is tall a red vertical stipe on the far right of the rectangle, a red quadrilateral in the canton, inside the canton is a blue saltire with white outlining, with thirteen white five-pointed stars of equal size inside the saltire. [c]
Designed by Arthur L. Rogers [13]

Three successive designs served as the official national flag of the Confederate States of America (the "Confederate States" or the "Confederacy") during its existence from 1861 to 1865.

Since the end of the American Civil War, private and official use of the Confederacy's flags, and of flags with derivative designs, has continued under philosophical, political, cultural, and racial controversy in the United States. These include flags displayed in states; cities, towns and counties; schools, colleges and universities; private organizations and associations; and by individuals.

The state flag of Mississippi features the Confederate army's battle flag in the canton, or upper left corner, the only current U.S. state flag to do so. The state flag of Georgia is very similar to the first national flag of the Confederacy, the "Stars and Bars"; a prior design incorporating the Confederate battle flag was in use from 1956 until 2001.

First flag: the "Stars and Bars" (1861–1863)

The first official national flag of the Confederacy, often called the Stars and Bars, flew from March 4, 1861, to May 1, 1863. It was designed by German/ Prussian artist Nicola Marschall in Marion, Alabama, and resembled the flag of the Austrian Empire (later Austria-Hungary, now the Republic of Austria), with which Marschall would have been familiar. [14] [15] The "Stars and Bars" flag was adopted March 4, 1861, in the first temporary national capital of Montgomery, Alabama, and raised over the dome of that first Confederate capitol. Marschall also designed the Confederate army uniform. [15]

A Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag, captured by soldiers of the Union Army at Columbia, South Carolina.

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, a congressman and Fire-Eater from 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 later became known as 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" – originally established and designed in June 1777 during the Revolutionary War), the "Stars and Bars" design was approved by the committee. [16]

When the American Civil War broke out, the "Stars and Bars" caused confusion on the battlefield at the First Battle of Bull Run because of its similarity to the U.S. flag, especially when it was hanging limp, down on the flagstaff. [17] The "Stars and Bars" was also criticized on ideological grounds for its resemblance to the U.S. flag. Many Confederates disliked the Stars and Bars, seeing it as symbolic of the centralized federal power the Confederate states were seceding from. [18] As early as April 1861, a month after the flag's adoption, some were already criticizing the flag, calling it a "servile imitation" and a "detested parody" of the U.S. flag. [19] In January 1862, George William Bagby, writing for the Southern Literary Messenger, wrote that many Confederates disliked the flag. "Every body wants a new Confederate flag," Bagby wrote, also stating that "The present one is universally hated. It resembles the Yankee flag and that is enough to make it unutterably detestable." The editor of the Charleston Mercury expressed a similar view, stating that "It seems to be generally agreed that the 'Stars and Bars' will never do for us. They resemble too closely the dishonored ' Flag of Yankee Doodle' … we imagine that the ' Battle Flag' will become the Southern Flag by popular acclaim." In addition, William T. Thompson, the editor of the Savannah-based Daily Morning News also objected to the flag, due to its aesthetic similarity to the U.S. flag, which some Confederates negatively associated with emancipation and abolitionism. Thompson stated in April 1863 that he disliked the adopted flag "on account of its resemblance to that of the abolition despotism against which we are fighting." [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Over the course of the flag's use by the Confederacy, additional stars were added to the flag's canton, eventually bringing the total number of stars on the flag to thirteen. This reflected the Confederacy's claims of having admitted Kentucky and Missouri into the Confederacy. Although they were represented in the Confederate Congress for the duration of its meetings, and had shadow governments made up of deposed former state politicians, neither state was ever fully controlled or administered by the Confederacy. The first showing of the 13-star flag was outside the Ben Johnson House in Bardstown, Kentucky; the 13-star design was also in use as the Confederate navy's battle ensign.

First national flag with 7 stars
(March 4 – May 21, 1861) 
First national flag with 9 stars
(May 21 – July 2, 1861) 
First national flag with 11 stars
(July 2 – November 28, 1861) 
First national flag with 13 stars
(November 28, 1861 – May 1, 1863 [20]
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