Designed by William Porcher Miles, the chairman of the Flag and Seal committee, a now-popular variant of the Confederate flag was rejected as the national flag in 1861. It was instead adopted as a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee. A similar flag was used during the war by the Army of Tennessee under General Joseph E. Johnston. Despite never having historically represented the CSA as a country nor officially recognized as one of the national flags, it is commonly referred to as “the Confederate Flag” and has become a widely recognized symbol of the American south. It is also known as the rebel flag, Dixie flag, and Southern cross and is often incorrectly referred to as the “Stars and Bars”. (The actual “Stars and Bars” is the first national flag, which used an entirely different design.) The self-declared Confederate enclave of Town Line, New York, lacking a genuine Confederate flag, flew a version of this flag prior to its 1946 vote to ceremonially rejoin the Union.
What do the colors and design represent on this flag?
- While the meaning of the color red in the Confederate flags remained the same, the size and usage of the color changed throughout its transformations. Red represented the valor of the Confederacy. As in the case of the original United States flag, it represented hardiness and the willingness to sacrifice. Red was used as a background of the most popular flag, the “Navy Jack.” Other flags showed white as the background.
- In the language of flags, white represents purity. Innocence of ideas is what is attempted to be represented by using white. Some Christians also attribute the usage of white in a flag as sign of the represented country’s allegiance to God and his son.
- The blue of the Confederate flag is a dark or navy blue. This blue was also known as “Bonnie Blue.” It was first used in the Louisiana state flag and was thought to represent Southern pride. The blue of the flag later was also known to represent justice as well as the perseverance and determination of the people.
- Beauregard added one star to the Confederate flag for each of the states in the Confederacy. The first seven stars represented belonged to South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. After the Battle of Fort Sumter, stars were added for Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. There were eventually 11 stars.
- What looks like an X on the “Confederate Jack” is actually the cross of Saint Andrew. Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus who later in life became a martyr. When the Roman government set about his crucifixion, Andrew protested. It is reported he asked to be crucified in the form of the X as he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner of Jesus. The Confederate leadership apparently felt inspired by Andrew’s fortitude and adopted his cross into their flag.