The following are the flags used by the short-lived Confederate States of America. Though they have largely ceased to be used since the end of the civil war, some Southern Americans continue to use the flags as a symbol of their history. The Confederate battle flag (see below) is still flown at the South Carolina legislature. The design of the Confederate flags has also been incorporated into the state flags of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia.
|Table of contents|
2 The Stars and Bars, The First Confederate Flag
3 The Stainless Banner, The Second Official Flag
4 The Third National Banner
5 The Battle Flag
6 The Naval Jack
7 After the War
The Stars and Bars, The First Confederate Flag
This flag was flown from 4 March 1861 to May 1863 as the first official flag of the seven states that seceded from the Union. Later six more states joined them. It caused confusion on the battlefield because it was so similar to the Stars and Stripes of the Union forces. If any flag can be called "the" Confederate flag, this is it.
The Stainless Banner, The Second Official Flag
This was the second official flag of the Confederacy, brought into service on 1 May 1863. The horizontal stripes were removed to avoid confusion with the Union flag. When the battlefield was windless, it was mistaken for a flag of surrender because all that could be seen was the field of white.
The Third National Banner
This is the third official flag, adopted 4 March 1865, very shortly before the fall of the Confederacy. The red vertical stripe was added to dispel confusion with the flag of surrender.
The Battle Flag
The battle flag of the Confederacy is square, usually 3×3 feet. It was used in battle from May 1863 to the fall of the Confederacy. The blue color on the Southern Cross in the battle flag was navy blue, as opposed to the much lighter blue of the Naval Jack.
The Naval Jack
The Confederate Navy Jack is rectangular, usually about 5×3 feet. The blue color in the Southern Cross is much lighter than in the Battle Flag, and it was flown only on Confederate ships from 1863 to 1865. This flag is what is typically (though erroneously) recognized as the Confederate flag.
After the War
For some time in the Reconstruction period, public display of Confederate flags was illegal in the states of the US South occupied by Federal troops.
What is usually called "The Confederate Flag" or "The Confederate Battle Flag" (actually the Navy Jack as explained above) remains a symbol into the 21st century. The display of the flag is considered controversial by many, generally because of disagreement over exactly what it symbolizes. To many in the US South it is simply a symbol of regional pride. Others see it as a symbol of the instituion of slavery which the Confederate government defended, or of the Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation in the Southern States for decades later.
In 1955, the Georgia state flag was redesigned to incorporate the Confederate Battle Flag. This caused much controversy, so in January, 2001, a new design was adopted intending to recognize the Confederate Battle Flag's historical significance while minimizing its prominence. In 2003, because of the continued controversy, the flag was redesigned yet again, without any image of the Confederate Battle Flag.