The Flags of the Confederate States of America

1st National Confederate Flag
1st National
2nd National Confederate Flag
2nd National
3rd National Confederate Flag
3rd National
Confederate Battle Flag
Battle Flag
Confederate Bonnie Blue Flag
Bonnie Blue

The Bonnie Blue Flag

On 9 January 1861, the Convention of the People of Mississippi adopted an Ordinance of Secession. With the announcement of the Ordinance, a large blue flag bearing a single white star was raised over the capitol building in Jackson.

The Bonnie Blue Flag, which was destined to be the second most popular patriotic song in the Confederacy.

1st National Confederate Flag – Adoption of the “Stars & Bars”

The original flag of the Confederate States of America, commonly known as the “STARS AND BARS”, was approved by the Congress of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States, and first hoisted over the capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama, on the afternoon of the 4th day of March, 1861. Congress did not adopted a formal Act codifying this flag, “The flag of the Confederate States of America shall consist of a red field with a white space extending horizontally through the center, and equal in width to one-third the width of the flag. The red space above and below to be the same width as the white. The union blue extending down through the white space and stopping at the lower red space. In the center of the union a circle of white stars corresponding in number with the States in the Confederacy. ”
 
This new flag spread quickly in use across the South, even beyond the borders of the seven States of the CSA. The official version was to have the stars in a circle, with the number corresponding to the States actually admitted to the Confederacy. Thus, there would have been 7 stars from 4 March 1861 until 7 May 1861, when Virginia became the 8th Confederate State by Act of Congress. Thereafter, the number of stars continued to increase until Tennessee gained her seat as the 11th State on 2 July 1861. The number remained 11 through the summer, but increased when Missouri and Kentucky were admitted to the CSA by Acts of Congress approved 28 November 1861 and 10 December 1861, respectively.  

2nd National Confederate Flag
(1 May 1863 to 4 March 1865)

The second flag of the Confederate States of America, commonly known as the “STAINLESS BANNER”, was created by an Act of the Congress of the Confederate States, approved by the President on the 1st day of May, 1863. The Flag Act of 1863 describes the flag in the following language:

“The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the flag of the Confederate States shall be as follows: the field to be white, the length double the width of the flag, with the union, (now used as the battle flag,) to be a square of two thirds the width of the flag, 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.”

3rd National Confederate Flag

The third and final flag of the Confederate States of America, was created by an Act of the Congress of the Confederate States (Second Congress, Session II), and approved by the President on the 4th day of March, 1865, four years to the day after the first raising of the STARS AND BARS in Montgomery.

The Flag Act of 1865 describes the flag in the following language: “The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the flag of the Confederate States shall be as follows: The width two-thirds of its length, with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be in width three-fifths of the width of the flag, and so proportioned as to leave the length of the field on the side of the union twice the width of the field below it; to have the ground red and a broad blue saltier thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned with mullets or five pointed stars, corresponding in number to that of the Confederate States; the field to be white, except the outer half from the union to be a red bar extending the width of the flag.”

Ensign of the CSS Virginia

The Navy Ensign

Navies have their own specific flags and flag terminology. The principal flag denoting nationality on any ship, whether naval or civilian is called the ensign.

CS Navy Ensign as prescribed by the Regulations of 26 May 1863.  The ensign of the Confederate States Navy was the same as the national flag, that pattern from 1863 to 1865 being the design known as the Stainless Banner. It was flown from the stern of a ship, usually from a gaff on ships rigged for sail, and on an ensign staff on steamers without sails and ironclad gunboats.
 
Twenty-five days after the Stainless Banner became the official Confederate flag, the Secretary of the Navy issued regulations governing navy ensigns. Rather than the 1:2 ratio officially prescribed for the national flag, the regulations called for the ensign to have a length one and one-half times the width of the ensign. In fact, the national flags actually made for the army corresponded to the proportions of the navy regulations. 

Like the flag as used on land, Stars and Bars navy ensigns are found with a variety of numbers of stars and patterns of arrangement. Navy ensigns will have from seven to thirteen stars. They are more likely than their land-bound counterparts to follow the official requirement that the stars be in a circle, though often that circle will surround a central star. There are, however, variations from the circular pattern. 

Jack of the CSS Atlanta

The Navy Jack

A jack is a small flag flown at the bow of a ship. It is not flown while the ship is at sea, but only when at port, or while entering or leaving a port. The staff from which a jack is flown is often removed when the ship is underway. It is said that this was to keep it clear of the forward field of fire in combat.

By tradition inherited from the Royal Navy, the jack of the US Navy is the union of the ensign. The CS Navy carried forward this tradition.  As a result, since in the 1861-1863 period the ensign was the Stars and Bars, the jack was a plain blue flag charged with white stars. Except for the number of stars, it was identical to the jack of the US Navy.
 
The 1863 jack was a rectangular version of the battleflag canton of the ensign. The 1863 jack, as a result, is similar in design to the Battle Flag used in the Army of Tennessee from late 1863 to 1865.
The only known surviving jack of this period is the one illustrated here  from the CSS Atlanta. It has only seven stars, and although on board the Atlanta when it was captured in June 1863, may date to an earlier period. Like the ensign, jacks in use in this period probably could be found with star numbers ranging from seven to thirteen.

Confederate Battleflag

Echoes Through Time

4 months 1 week ago

For the month of June, you will be seeing bios of local Civil War Veterans from the area of Concord,.... I hope you enjoy reading about these great folks! Joseph B Warner was born on February 29, 1840. At the age of 22 years old he enlisted into the 10th…