The confederate or rebel flags is incorrectly known as the “Stars and Bars”. The original “Stars and Bars” was the first national flag of the Confederacy, and its design was entirely different. Major enthusiasts of Dixie flags still claim that it is a symbol of Southern ancestry and heritage. To them, it also represents a distinction between Southern cultural traditions from that of other US states.
But rebel flags as we know it today were not originally intended to be a symbol. Rather, its creators (confederate army commanders in Virginia) wanted a distinct emblem that would serve as an alternative to the first national emblem of the confederacy (Stars and Bars).
The confederate flag has a rich and interesting history. It went through three major historical stages in which a lot of changes were made both to its design and use especially in the last two stages.
Between 1860 and1861, about 11 southern states US states seceded. and formed the Confederacy. This triggered the American Civil War. By the year 1861, the Confederacy decided on adopting its first national. This would be the first out of three confederate that were subsequently developed. This first was called the Stars & Bars. It had a blue canton and white colored stars. It was similar to that of the US and this is one of the main reasons for its unpopularity among confederates back then
An alternative design was suggested to Congress. This one was red colored with 2 thick diagonal lines (blue colored) and 3 stars.13 white stars were symbolically representing 11 states that seceded from the rest including Missouri and Kentucky. This design was what became the more popularized form of the confederate flag that we know today. Click here for an historical perspective to the past of the embattled confederate flag.
Notable historical changes
First confederate flag was adopted on the 4th of March, 1861 and November 28, 1861. The march edition was the first. It had 7 stars while the November edition was the final one with 13 stars. It was called “Stars & Bars” and used as the official emblem for a while. It was designed by Nicola Marschall a German artist. The design consisted of:
- Three (horizontal) alternating stripes of red & white with of equal height,
- A blue colored square that was two-third of flag’s height that served as Its canton.
- Inside this canton were 13 equal sizes of white stars (each with 5 points), arranged to form a circle which pointed outwards.
This flag was two years before it was redesigned. The major reason for the redesign was the fact that it confused Soldiers on both sides of the war due to the similarities between the Confederate’s “Stars and Bars” with the Union’s “Stars and Stripes,”. This did not go down well with majority of the Confederate Congress hence, they requested a “more Confederate” flag.
The second Confederate national flag: Was adopted on the 1st of May in the year 1863. It was named “Stainless Banner” and was also known by some people as “Stonewall Jackson”. this is because even before it was flown in any battle, it was used to cover Stonewall Jackson’s coffin during his funeral hence, the name. The design was made up of:
- a rectangle. white, with a width that was twice its height
- the canton had a red-colored quadlateral
- within the canton was a blue saltire which had a white outline
- 13 five pointed stars, all white and of equal size
This design came into use as the Naval Ensign for the confederate between 1863 and 1865.
The third national flag: was adopted in March, 1865 and was designed by Arthur L. Rogers. It had the name “The Blood-Stained Banner” and its design consisted of:
- A rectangle, white colored and with a width that is 1.5 times its height
- There was a red vertical stripe on the far right side of the rectangle
- Within the canton was a red-colored quadilatral and a blue saltire with a white outline
- Inside the saltire were 13 stars, white and all of equal size with 5 outwards points
Although this third one wasn’t widely adopted or used since the war was already approaching its end. It was still reported in the Richmond Newspaper of December 1865.Visit http://www.loeser.us/flags/civil.html to learn more about various American flags in history.
Other official and unofficial versions of the flag were also designed in subsequent years. While the Civil War ended in 1865, the confederate flag still gained widespread use and has been associated with various political and even non-political movement. Hence, it has taken on new meanings to various people due to its newly found uses. Despite all controversies surrounding past and present uses, the confederate flag remains a significant part of American history.