Last modified: 2015-04-25 by rick wyatt
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image by Randy Young, 2 February 2005
The New Orleans Grays flag is most likely still in the National Museum in Mexico City but is hidden so no efforts can be made to return it to Texas. All reports I have read that the Grays flag was the one flying over the Alamo when it fell. The mythical pictures of the Mexican flag with the "1824" - the date of the Mexican Constitution that the Anglo settlers were fighting for was basically a flag of attempted reconciliation. When Santa Anna rebuffed these attempts the Texians went with a myriad of Lone Star based flags as symbols of defiance.
The basis for this was the flag of the West Florida Republic of 1810. Not geographically connected to Florida at all - this mini-nation covered the lower parts of the states of Alabama, Mississippi and that part of Louisiana above New Orleans. The capitol was in Baton Rouge. The Spanish governor was overthrown by a band of Anglo settlers fighting under a blue flag with a single white star. That flag went into the folklore of the area including (probably) into the mind of David Burnet - who was living in Natchitoches in 1813.
Greg Biggs, 27 March 1997
I believe the New Orleans Grays Flag has been restored and can be viewed on the internet at the National Museum in Mexico City.
Tom Green, 27 November 2007
From the book "Flags to Color, Washington to Lincoln," and appears on page 18 as "New Orleans Grays, 1836."
Quoted from the book:
"Colors: Blue field; black letters; gold fringe."
"Seeing the opportunity of opening vast territories to settlement - and slavery - Southerners rallied to the cause of Texas independence from Mexico. This flag, captured at the Alamo by Mexicans, is one of the few remaining; it was carried by Louisiana men."
Though it's hard to read, the inscription in the banner being carried by the eagle reads "GOD & LIBERTY," while the words above and below the eagle are "First Company of TEXAN VOLUNTEERS! FROM NEW-ORLEANS."
Randy Young, 2 February 2005
The New Orleans Grays had an even earlier history, in that a group of men from New Orleans went to Mexico in 1835, were captured and executed. President Santa Anna used the lack of a response from the USA to force through a law designating anyone captured bearing arms against Mexico to be pirates and were to be executed as soon as they were captured. This was the reason given for the Goliad Massacre in 1836, which some historians say was the motivation for the victory at the Battle of San Jacinto later that year. Many of the men from New Orleans were killed at Goliad, therefore the cry, "Remember Goliad" as well as the more famous cry, "Remember the Alamo."
Tom Green, 2 February 2005
image by Chris Pinette, 29 April 1997
Burnet later emigrated to Texas and became the first President of the Texas Republic. He designed their first flag - which was blue with a gold/yellow star on the field. See the connection? There is no documented paper trail on this but Burnet's Louisiana heritage and the time frame is just too close to miss. The Burnet flag was replaced by the current state flag in 1839.
Greg Biggs, 27 March 1997
From the February 1992 edition of the South Texas Law Review, titled "The Flags and Seals of Texas," by Charles A. Spain, Jr:
The first official flag [of the Republic of Texas] was approved by the Texas Congress on December 10, 1836: "Be it further enacted, That for the future there shall be a national flag, to be denominated the 'National Standard of Texas,' the conformation of which shall be an azure ground, with a large golden star central." This flag is known as David G. Burnet's flag, named after the president of the ad interim government. ...Mr. Spain goes on to explain that, although President Burnet's flag was never explicitly replaced as one of the Republic's official flags by the Lone Star Flag, the need for a separate war flag ended with statehood in 1845. Also, the state legislature revised the code of laws in 1879, and repealed all laws not explicitly re-enacted -- thereby ending any legislative sanction for Burnet's flag.
The national standard served as the Texas flag for all purposes except for the navy until the adoption of the Lone Star flag in 1839. From that point forward, the national standard continued as the de jure war flag until Texas achieved statehood in 1845. The national standard was not completely replaced by the 1839 Lone Star Flag because the 1839 Act was merely an amendment to the 1836 Act. The 1839 Act specifically provided that the national standard was to remain unaffected: "Be it further enacted, The national standard of this Republic shall remain as was established by an act to which this is an amendment."
Colonel Philip N. Luckett organized the Third Texas Infantry in the summer of 1861. The men of the Third came largely from Central Texas, specifically Bexar, Gillespie, San Patricio, and Travis counties. As these counties were heavily populated with recent German immigrants and persons of Mexican descent, a large number of the regiment's men were foreign-born. The Third Texas Infantry saw little action during the war, their morale was low, the men verged on mutiny, and
desertion was frequent.
The Third was first assigned to the defense of San Antonio (1861-1862), then moved to Brownsville and Galveston in 1863 where they protected cotton shipments and guarded against raids from Mexico. In 1864, they were stationed along the lower Brazos and San Bernard rivers, and occupied much of their time firing at Union gunboats along the rivers. The regiment really only saw one battle during the war when they participated in the Red River campaign and fought in the Battle of Jenkins Ferry on April 30, 1864. On May 26, 1865, General Edmund Kirby Smith officially surrendered the regiment at Galveston, it was disbanded, and the troops returned to their homes.
Pete Loeser, 11 July 2013
According to Dallas Herald, issue of 1863-08-26, the flag was presented to the Third Texas Infantry by a Mrs. Phelps of New Orleans, who had had it made while residing in Havana, Cuba before having arrived in Texas. The reversal of blue and red colors is attributed to Mrs. Phelps' misunderstanding of the correct color pattern of the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag. Several other Confederate battle flags from the Trans-Mississippi Department which display the same color reversal are nowadays also thought to have been made in Cuba.
This flag is 45in wide and 48in long, with gold fringes 1.5in deep. The saltire is fimbriated white and the stars and inscriptions are silver. The central star measures 4.5in and other twelve stars measure 2.5in in diameter.
Source: Flags of the Confederacy website: www.confederate-flags.org/confederate%20trans-mississippi%20department-4\.html
Tomislav Todorovic, 12 July 2013
From: Battle Flags of Texans in the Confederacy by Al Summrall:
Without argument the most ornate of the known Confederate battle flags, the regimental color of the Twentieth Texas Infantry had one distinctive feature that might be easily overlooked by the novice or amateur historian: Unlike the overwhelming majority of Texas produced First National type battle flags, this banner lacks the large central star within the circle of stars in the canton.submitted by Devereaux Cannon, 15 January 2002
The thirteen stars would indicate an 1862 or mid-1863 manufacture. As this unit primarily served in coastal defense, the large 4 x 8-foot flag would not be considered unwieldy or unusual. The illustration cannot adequately convey the grandeur of this magnificent color in its prime.
A flag with this much gold color would be surprising only if it were not made of expensive silk--which, of course, it was!
This magnificent flag rests in the collection of the Texas Confederate Museum, United Daughters of the Confederacy--Texas Division.
The illustration shows the motto within the circle of stars as "OUR HOMES and OUR RIGHTS".