Flags of the Confederacy Page

Flags of the Confederacy

National Flags of the Confederacy

Tracing its origin to the early 1800's during a border dispute with Spain, the Bonnie Blue Flag was for years used as a symbol of Southern independence. It served as the unofficial flag of the Confederacy until it was replaced by the Stars and Bars.

Although the more famous Battle Flag is often referred to erroneously as the Stars and Bars, this flag is the more properly known by that informal title. It was replaced in May 1863 after a number of incidents of battlefield confusion resulted due to its similarity to the U.S. Stars and Stripes.

As more states joined the young Confederacy, stars continued to the added to the flag. This variant shows the final version of the flags after the last of 13 states joined the Confederacy.

The Second National Flag, or the Stainless Banner, was the replacement for the Stars and Bars. It was adopted in May of 1863. One of the first flags produced was used to cover the casket of Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, and is today on display at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.

The final Confederate flag, the Third National Flag was sometimes referred to as the "Blood-stained Banner". It was adopted in March of 1865 after reports that the Second National Flag had been mistaken on the field of battle for a flag of truce.

This little known flag was used during the first half of the war. Naval Jacks are used by Naval vessels while in port.

This elongated battle flag was used as a naval jack during the second half of the war. It was adopted in 1948 as the symbol of Southern Democrats, the so-called "Dixiecrats."

The Great Seal of the Confederacy, or "Deo Vindice" seal was smuggled through the Union blockade, along with its pressing equipment, during the war. It proudly displays the Confederate motto of Deo Vindice, which is Latin for "God will Vindicate." In keeping with the Southerners belief that their struggle was continuing the beliefs of America's founding fathers, the seal displays a mounted General George Washington in the center of the seal.

Army of Northern Virginia Battleflags

After several incidents of battlefield confusion at Manassas, the staffs of Generals Joseph Johnston and Pierre Beauregard submitted designs for a distinctive banner to fly over the Confederate Army in Northern Virginia to set it distinctly apart from the U.S. Stars and Stripes. The design submitted by General Beauregard's staff was selected as the official banner, due mainly to its simpler design. Conceived on the field of battle for the noblest of reasons, to save the lives of their comrades, the Confederate Battle Flag flew proudly over every battlefield for the next four years, until being furled finally at Appomatox in April 1865.

This Stars and Bars variant, sometimes called the Ark and the Covenant, marked the location of the headquarters camp of General Robert E. Lee.

Issued in November of 1861, the first Battle flags of the Confederacy, although quite beautiful, were not up to the rigor of field life, since they had been made of silk. Quickly reduced to tatters, they were replaced within a year by more durable models.

Under this flag, the Army of Northern Virginia fought many of its greatest battles. Both Bunting issues were made of high quality English Bunting, making the flags much more durable. The most unique feature of the flag is the orange border, which is unique to this model.

Issued as the army was departing north to invade Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863, this issue of the battle flag was to be carried to the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy" at the Battle of Gettysburg. It continued the fly over General Lee's regiments until the surrender at Appomatox in April 1865.

Army of Tennessee Battle Flags

When General Joe Johnston ordered a standardization of battle flags early in 1864, this flag was issued to the regiments of the army. Today, it is the most recognized Confederate flag.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest fought under this unique Battle Flag, which was missing the middle star. Debate rages to this day over which Confederate state was left out of this arrangement.

Serving in Granbury's Texas Brigade, one of the premiere brigade sized units in the Confederate Army, the 6th and 15th Texas Consolidated Regiment carried this flag which combined features of the Hardee Pattern Battle Flag and the Texas Republic Flag of 1836.

Designed by General Hardee for the troops of his corps, this flag was first flown at the Battle of Shiloh.

When General Joe Johnston ordered a standardization of Battle Flags, the division of General Patrick Cleburne successfully appealed to keep their Hardee flags. Thus, the Hardee/Cleburne flag was flown until the final surrender of the Army of Tennessee in April 1865 at Greensboro, North Carolina.

At the same time that General Hardee designed his flag, General Polk designed this St. George's cross flag for the men of his corps. It was used until the standardization of flags in 1864.

The Arkansas Artillery Battery of Captain Thomas Keys, which fired in support of Patrick Cleburne's Division, flew this Hardee variant. It was still serving under it when the battery was overrun and captured at the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia on September 1, 1864.

One of the most famous regiments in the war was Terry's Texas Rangers. Also known as the 8th Texas Cavalry, they flew this unique flag for one month in 1864. It was captured by the Yankees when the flag-bearer snagged the banner on a tree during a skirmish, and it was ripped from its staff.

In the turbulent days after the defeat at Shiloh, General Dabney Maury's division fought under this banner during the battles of Corinth and Iuka in September and October of 1862.

Battle Flags of the Trans-Mississippi West

General Earl Van Dorn designed this banner for his men of the Army of the West. It was used during the army's great battle at Elkhorn Tavern (or Pea Ridge, if yer a Yankee!). The flag saw brief action east of the Mississippi after the arrival of the Army of the West at Corinth shortly after the Battle of Shiloh.

General Richard Taylor used this odd flag, as did many of his units. Legend has it that the flags got its coloration due to the seamstress misunderstanding her instructions. Regardless of the possible bumbling origin of the flag, the troops beneath it gained an impressive victory over the Federals at Mansfield, Louisiana.

This Stars and Bars variant features the usual 13 stars for the states of the nation, but also has 5 red stars representing the five civilized tribes. Adopted by the Cherokee Nation, it was also used by some Cherokee units, such as Stand Watie's Cherokee Mounted Rifles, which flew this banner labeled "Cherokee Braves."

The smaller Choctaw contingent of the Confederate Army flew this distinct banner which features the native weapons of the Choctaw tribe.

Among the toughest fighters in the Confederate Army were Missourians. Many of the Missouri regiments in the Trans-Mississippi West fought under this banner.

General Jo Shelby led his "Iron Brigade" under this banner, and later used it after he ascended to Division command. In June 1865, he sunk his flag in the Rio Grande River on his way to Mexico rather than surrender the flag to the Federals. However, one of his men reputedly rescued the flag from its watery grave.