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General Joseph Finegan SCV Camp # 745

The true "Stars and Bars"

The First National Flag of the Confederacy—the "Stars and Bars"
March 1861 to May of 1863

The original version of the Confederate national flag, called the Stars and Bars, included seven stars representing the first seven states to secede from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. In its final form, the flag contained thirteen stars (adding the seceding states of Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee, as well as two states that attempted, but failed, to secede: Kentucky and Missouri). The flag's first official use was at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis on March 4, 1861. It was also used in combat, but its similarity to the Stars and Stripes caused confusion on the battlefield.

When this flag was first raised over the capitol building in Montgomery, it contained seven stars, representing the Confederate States. By the third week of May two more stars were added representing Virginia and Arkansas. In July the addition of North Carolina and Tennessee increased the number to eleven and finally the admission of Kentucky and Missouri in December brought the circle of stars to thirteen.

The "Stars and Bars" is believed have been designed by Nicola Marschall, a Prussian Artist and to have been inspired by the Austrian flag. It appears in many variations with stars ranging from 7 to 15 stars. The seven stars represent the original Confederate States; South Carolina (December 20, 1860), Mississippi(January 9, 1861),Florida (January 10,1861),Alabama (January 11, 1861),Georgia (January 19, 1861),Louisiana (January 26, 1861),and Texas (February 1, 1861). There were 11 states that seceeded from the Union, 2 (Kentucky and Missiouri that had confederate and union governments), 1 (Maryland) that attempted to seceed but whose legislature was disbanded by federal officals and was unable to join the confederacy, even though it furnished more troops to the cause then at least one member of that country and 1 slave state (Delaware) that remained loyal to the union.

The reason for the variations in number of stars in the Stars and Bars was due to lack of centralized purchasing. The original ones had 7 stars and more were added as additional states joined and the flag makers became aware of the number of states.

In Oct. 1861, a rump legislative body in Missouri dissolved the bond to the union and joined the confederacy. Kentucky was recognized as neutral at first but later was represented in the Confederate congress, bringing the stars to 13. However many flagmakers only recognized those states that were able to maintain state governments within their own territory, so that 41% of the over 300 surviving STARS AND BARS have only 11 stars. Missouri and Kentucky were overrun by the union and maintained representation in the federal government.

One interesting variation is the 12 star version, used by Nathan Bedford Forest, who swore not to include the star for Georgia, "as long as a yankee remains on Georgia's soil."

Of the survivors those having eight stars, 9%; nine stars, 5%; ten stars, 4%; twelve stars, 9%; fourteen stars, 0.6%; and 15 stars, 5%. The fourteenth star was for Maryland, whose governor was under house arrest and whose legislature was disbanded until the jailed members were replaced in a election where all voters had to take an oath of alliengance to the federal government. The 15th star was for Delaware, the other slave state. Unlike Maryland, who raised a number of regiments in exile from citizens who escaped across the river into Virginia and actually had more troops in the field for the confederacy then Florida, Delaware, the first state in the union, remained loyal to the federals.

The Confederate Battle Flag—the "Southern Cross"
Sept. 1861-April 1865

The "Southern Cross"

The best-known of all Confederate flags—the battle flag—is often erroneously confused with the national flag of the Confederacy. The battle flag features the cross of St. Andrew (the apostle was martyred by being crucified on an X-shaped cross), and is commonly called the "Southern Cross." A large degree of the Southern population was of Scottish and Scotch-Irish ancestry, and thus familiar with St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The stars represented the eleven states actually in the Confederacy, plus Kentucky and Missouri.

The Army of Northern Virginia was the first to design a flag with the cross of St. Andrew, and Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard proposed adopting a version of it as the standard battle flag of the Confederate army. One of its virtues was that, unlike the Stars and Bars, the Southern Cross was next to impossible to confuse with the Stars and Stripes in battle.

The Confederate battle flag eventually developed wide acceptance throughout the Confederacy, but it was by no means the only battle flag. The Stars and Bars continued to be used, and after it was replaced with a new national flag, that flag—the "Stainless Banner"—also appeared on the battlefield. In addition, some states used their own flags in combat.

It should also be pointed out that there was no uniform Southern Cross flag—throughout the South slightly different versions of the original design were adopted. Even their shape varied: some were square, the traditional shape of battle flags; others were rectangular. Because the South did not have the industrial resources of the North, the creation of flags was handled by a variety of cottage industries throughout the Confederacy, which contributed to the variations.

The Second National Flag of the Confederacy-the "Stainless Banner"
May 1863-March 1865

The "Stainless Banner"

On May 1, 1863, a new national flag was adopted, commonly known as the "Stainless Banner" because of its white field. The "Southern Cross" battle flag appeared in the canton on a white field. It too served as a battlefield flag. While the new flag avoided the problem of its predecessor—its similarity to the Stars and Stripes of the Federal States—it introduced its own form of confusion: largely white, it was thought it might be mistaken for a white flag of surrender.

One of the first uses for this flag was to drape the coffin of General Thomas J. Jackson. "Stonewall" Jackson died on May 10, 1863 from pneumonia he contracted in the treatment of his injuries received on May 2nd. On May 12, his body lay in state in the Confederate House of Representatives, by order of the President, the first new flag manufactured draped his coffin.

The Third National Flag of the Confederacy
March 1865-April 1865

The Third National Confederate flag

Because it could be mistaken for a flag of truce, the Stainless Banner was modifed to include a red bar on the fly. It was to be 1/4 of the area of the flag beyond the now rectangular canton. The width was to be 2/3 of length. The canton was to be 3/5 of width and 1/3 of length. This was signed into law on March 4, 1865. The final version of the Confederate flag was adopted just a month before the end of the Civil War.

For the last several months of the war it was modified by the addition of a red vertical stripe on the hoist. This was called the Third Confederate Flag or Last Confederate Flag. The canton was used as as a Naval Jack. In a square design, with a pink, orange and finally white 2" border, it was used by the Army of Northern Virginia, the main army of the South, led by Robert E. Lee, as a cavalry, artillary and infantry battle flag, depending on size (39",45" or 51" square). This would have been the one that saw the most use as it was employed by the largest number of units and involved in the largest number of battles. The pink and orange borders used bunting captured at the naval yard in Norfolk. Upon production of material in the South, white was used. One of the first two flags given to General Lee was sewn by two sisters from Alexander, Va. They belonged to a well known family and one of the main streets in Richmond, Carey Street bears their name. The other was sewn by their cousin, a Miss Carey in occupied territory (Baltimore, Md, where there also exists a Carey Street).

For a better understanding of our flags read: Meaning of the Southern Cross

Florida's Secession Flag

Helen Broward, of Broward's Neck in Duval County, and other southern women who supported the secessionist cause made and presented this flag to Florida Governor Madison S. Perry. It was unfurled by Governor-elect John Milton on the east porch of the state capitol when the delegates signed Florida's Ordinance of Secession on January 11, 1861. The three large stars represent the first three states to leave the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. The flag's motto, "The Rights of the South at All Hazards!", echoes the uncompromising position of southern supporters on the eve of the Civil War. The banner reportedly hung above the speaker's desk in the Florida House of Representatives throughout the war.

At the war's end, the banner still hung in the capitol and reportedly was taken as a trophy by a Union army officer during the postwar occupation of the building. It is recorded that this officer later felt guilty about taking the banner and gave it to a Mrs. Hasson, the wife of a military doctor, to return it to the state. The Hassons moved to the western U.S. shortly after this incident. It was not until 1911 that Mrs. Hasson sent the flag to a Florida member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who then returned it to the State of Florida.




I salute the Confederate flag, with affection, reverence, and undying devotion to the Cause for which it stands.


Confederate Heritage License Plate Info

  Sons of Confederate Veterans ● Florida Division ● Nassau County