Last modified: 2023-09-02 by rick wyatt
Keywords: confederate | confederate states of america | csa | stars and bars |
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There were six (or more) different basic design styles of Confederate Army Military Flags. As the flex and flow of military necessity effected the organization and reorganization of Confederate forces, so did the designs of their flags. A couple of examples of this would be in the Vicksburg Defense a subgroup of flags came into being that featured white crosses instead of blue, in Missouri and Louisiana a design subgroup with a Christian Cross design became popular. Faced with this we will divide them into groups. Some of these groups will be the Stars and Bars Pattern, the St. Andrews Cross Pattern (Southern Cross with a white flag border), the Army of Tennessee Pattern (Southern Cross without a white flag border), the Van Dorn Pattern, the Hardee Pattern, and the Polk Pattern. The last three are named for the Confederate Commanders who first designed (or had designed) the basic Regimental flag design to be used by the units under their command.
Pete Loeser, 26 August 2023
* More About: 11th Louisiana Infantry
* More About: Orleans Rifles
*More About: Orleans Guard Battalion
* More About: 1st Louisiana Battalion
image by Pete Loeser, 24 August 2023
Stars and Bars Pattern - Based on this National Park Service photo.
One of my favorite flags was that used by the last confederate General to surrender, Stanhope Watte. It was based on the Stars and Bars, which was in turn based on the Austrian flag of red, white, red horizontal stripes. The blue canton contained 11 white stars in a circle representing the 11 white governments that had left the union and five red stars representing the five Indian nations that joined the confederacy. Across the central bar was inscribed "CHEROKEE BRAVES".
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 22 May 1996
The five red stars on the 1st Cherokee Regiment flag were for the nations of the Seminoles, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees and Creek Indians - who - all being given the shaft at some point or another by the U.S. government - chose to ally themselves with the Confederacy, who pledged them a "we'll leave you alone" plan for their help in the Civil War.
Gregg Biggs, 22 May 1996
This flag was first presented to Chief John Ross by Commissioner Albert Pike in 1861, and in 1862 became the first national flag ever carried by Cherokee troops in combat under the command of Colonel Stand Watie, a Cherokee Indian himself. It also began a military career that eventual allowed Watie to became one of only two native Americans on either side to ever become a general. His light calvary command participated in 27 major engagements and numerous smaller skirmishes. Most of their activities utilized guerrilla warfare tactics and Watie's men launched raids throughout the northern-held Indian Territory, Kansas and Missouri. He is credited with tying down thousands of Union troops. Watie was promoted to brigadier general in 1864. On June 23, 1865, he became the last Confederate general to surrender at the end of the war.
Source: Historic Flags of Our Ancestors
Pete Loeser, 25 January 2015
I visited Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Museum on my way to New Orleans for NAVA 48 in 2014 and was disappointed to not see the Mounted Rifles Regimental flag on display, but after I introduced myself the attending Park Service Ranger wheeled out a cart with one of the flags on it being the actual (very well preserved and framed) General Stand Watie flag.
Source: National Parks Service: Cherokee Braves.
Pete Loeser, 24 August 2023
image by Dan Nullsig, 26 August 2003
Units would also add lettering and other art work to their First National flags. The 5th Kentucky regiment had the letters "C" and "G" embroidered on their flag in beautiful knot work to stand for their name: "Citizen's Guard." It was also common for Kentucky units to use the Roman Cross motif, symbolizing their Christian heritage.
Dan Nullsig, 26 August 2003
The Citizens Guard was only Company B of the 5th/9th Kentucky Infantry. it was a pre-American Civil War militia unit of the Kentucky State Guard. The regiment is actually the 9th Kentucky Infantry. It was originally called the 5th, but there was already another 5th Kentucky Regiment so they had to change their number to the 9th.
Some Kentucky regiments used flags with a Latin/Christian cross on them. The most prominent are those flags for General Breckinridge's Division which adopted blue flags with large red Latin crosses adorned by 13 white stars after May, 1862. These flags were not only for Kentucky troops but for all regiments of the division. Some Alabama regiments did the same with Latin crosses.
General John Bowen's Division used blue flags with white Latin crosses on them and General Carter Stevenson used red flags with white Latin crosses on them at the time of Vicksburg. These were replaced by other patterns after the surrender of the city.
Latin cross flags did meet with objections in the South during the American Civil War. First, the Jewish communities, mainly in Charleston, objected as did some fundamentalist Christian groups who felt that the flags were misusing their religious symbols. I have letters from both sides in my files on this regard. One, from an Arkansas soldier, railed against what he felt was a "catholic" symbol (the flag in question was of the Bowen pattern). To make sure his wife knew what he was talking about he drew the flag on the letter in color!
Greg Biggs, 27 August 2003