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James Library

First National Pattern Confederate Flag

Confederate flags

The Confederate assembly in Montgomery, Alabama adopted the first national flag of the Confederate States of America in March of 1861. This flag was raised over the Capital in Montgomery, Alabama on March 4, 1861. The canton was blue with seven stars in a circle. There were three bars on the flag, two red and one white, and thus the popular name "Stars and Bars."


First Flag of the Confederate States of America, March 4, 1861


The seven stars represent the seven original states: South Carolina; Mississippi; Florida; Alabama; Georgia; Louisiana and Texas. The seven star flag was used officially for two years, but never established as the Confederate Flag by law.

Between April 17 and June 24, 1861, four more states, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina seceded from the Union. (North Carolina was the eleventh state to secede).

The same day that North Carolina seceded, May 20, 1861, the Confederate Congress was in session in Montgomery, Alabama. At this session, the number of stars on the flag was increased to thirteen, representing the eleven states that had seceded and also Kentucky and Missouri, who had sent representatives to the first Confederate Congress.

After the first battle of Bull Run, the troops complained that at a distance they could not distinguish between the "Stars and Bars" and the "Stars and Stripes" of the Federal flag. General Beauregard designed the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, consisting of two blue lines containing the thirteen stars diagonally across a red field.


The Battle Flag of the Confederacy, also known as the "Southern Cross"


The people of the Confederate Union also wanted a flag for all occasions that would not be confused with the "Stars and Stripes." In May 1863, the Confederate Congress adopted the blue cross with thirteen stars, but placed it in the "place of honor" and substituted the three bars with a field of solid white.


Second Flag of the Confederate States of America, May 1, 1863 through March 4, 1865


The Confederate soldiers felt that this flag resembled a flag of truce. It was again altered and adopted in 1865, shortly before the end of the Civil War. A red bar was added extending over the width of the banner and covering the outer half of the field.