|Welcome to GeorgiaInfo | What's New | This Day in Georgia History | Instructional Handout Masters | Credits | Photos & Images | Georgia Trivia ||
Confederate Battle Flag
The similarity of the Stars and Bars to the Stars and Stripes was not an accident. As the war progressed, however, sentiment for keeping a reminder of the American flag diminished in the South. More importantly, during the first major battle of the Civil War at Bull Run near Manassas Junction, Virginia, it was hard to distinguish the two flags at a distance.
Consequently, Confederate generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Joseph Johnston urged that a new Confederate flag be designed for battle. The result was the square flag sometimes known as the "Southern Cross." The Confederate Battle Flag consisted of a blue saltire reminiscent of the St. Andrew's Cross, on which were situated 13 stars, with the saltire edged in white, all on a red background. Professionally made reconstructions of Battle Flags generally show the central tip of each star pointing up, as shown above. A review of surviving Georgia Confederate Battle Flags in the State Capitol units shows that the stars were of various sizes and arranged in all manner of ways (see flag 1, flag 2, flag 3, and flag 4). In no case are all stars pointing in exactly the same manner, and the variety of positions makes it impossible to generalize on how the stars were arranged on actual battle flags.
As proposed by Beauregard and Johnston, the Confederate Battle Flag was of square design. Attesting to this fact, most of the surviving battle flags at the Georgia Capitol are square in format. However, some rectangle battle flags were used in various Confederate commands. For example, after assuming command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Gen. Joseph Johnston in the spring of 1864 directed that uniform rectangle battle flags be issued to regiments in his command. Infantry versions of these flags averaged 36 x 52 inches in size. These flags were similar in dimensions to the Confederate Naval Jack adopted in May 1863.
Even though the actual Confederate Battle Flag was overwhelmingly square in dimensions, flag companies in the late 19th century began producing souvenir versions in rectangle format--presumably to match the format used for the U.S. flag. By the turn of the century, commercial reproductions of the Confederate Battle Flag apparently could only be purchased in rectangle format.
In the early 1900s, the United Confederate Veterans expressed concern about incorrect representations of Confederate flags being portrayed by book publishers and flag manufacturers and appointed a Committee on Flags of This Organization to determine the true designs of the various Confederate flags.
As adopted by the 1904 UCV convention, the committee's final report declared the flag descriptions contained therein as "the conclusive judgment of this Organization, that the Flags of the Confederate States of America were established by legislation of the Congresses of the Confederate States, and otherwise, in the manner fully set forth in the accompanying report."
Though the Battle Flag was never officially adopted by the Confederate Congress, it was at least formally recognized in legislation enacted in May 1863 creating the Second National Flag. That flag would consist of a field of white ". . . with the union (now used as the Battle Flag) to be a square. . . having the ground red; thereon a broad saltier of blue, bordered with white, and emblazoned with white mullets or five pointed stars, corresponding in number to that of the Confederate States." That general description, however, left many unanswered questions.
In what comes closest to a detailed description of the Confederate Battle Flag, the 1904 UCV Committee on Flags report concluded:
"The Battle Flag is square, having a Greek Cross (saltier) of blue, edged with white, with thirteen equal white five pointed stars; upon a red field; the whole bordered with white. There are three sizes: Infantry, 48 in. square; Artillery, 36 in. square; Cavalry, 30 in. square. The proportions for an Infantry Flag are; 48 in. by 48 in. (exclusive of the border; the blue arms of the cross, 7 1/2 in. wide; the white edging to the cross 1/2 in. wide; the white border around the flag proper 1 1/2 in. wide. Total outside measurement, 51 inches. The stars are five pointed, inscribed within a circle of 6 in. diameter, and are of uniform size. There should be five eyelet holes in the hoist, next the pole. The Artillery and Cavalry Flags are correspondingly reduced in all proportions."
Interestingly, the committee report made no mention of which way the stars should point. However, the report was published in 1907 under the title The Flags of the Confederate States of America. In that publication, the UCV's official version of the Confederate Battle Flag shows the central star pointing toward the bottom of the flag, while each of the remaining 12 stars points at a 45° angle toward the upper top of the branch of the saltier on which the star is located. The same arrangement is used on the unions of the Second and Third National Flags, though in no case is explanation given about the direction in which the stars point.
|©2013 Digital Library of Georgia||UGA | GALILEO | Contact Us|