The Confederacy had many flags. There were national flags, flags for generals, and even flags for Indian tribes that fought with the South. In this post I’ll include the most well-known flags and maybe some flags you didn’t know about.
- National Flags
- State Flags
- Non-official State Flags of the Confederacy
- Flags of the Five Civilized Indian Tribes and the Confederate Irish
- Flags of Armies and Generals
- Naval Flags
The Confederate Battle Flag was the main flag flown in battle during the Civil War for the CSA. It is modernly known simply as “The Confederate Flag” but was never an official flag of the South. The 13 stars on this banner are for the 11 states that seceded and for Kentucky and Missouri, who although didn’t secede, sympathized with the South.
1st National Flag (Stars and Bars)
The Stars and Bars was the first national flag of the Confederacy and was used from the beginning of the war until 1863 when it was replaced by the 2nd National Flag or “Stainless Banner.” The flag above is also the first version of flag. The seven stars represent the first 7 states to secede from the Union. The flag evolved until it had 13 stars for the 11 states of the Confederacy and 2 stars for Missouri and Kentucky. This flag caused confusion at the First Battle of Manassas and in some of the early battles of the war for looking like the American flag.
2nd National Flag (Stainless Banner)
The Stainless Banner was the official flag of the South from 1863-1865. As well as being known as the Stainless Banner, the 2nd national is also known as the “White Man’s Flag.” and “Jackson’s Flag” because it draped General Stonewall Jackson’s coffin. Being white except for the Battle Flag in the upper left-hand corner, it was replaced in the last year of the war, by the “Blood-Stained Banner”, for looking too much like a flag of surrender.
3rd National Flag (Blood-Stained Banner)
The third and final national flag of the Confederacy, the Blood-Stained Banner, replaced the 2nd national on March 4, 1865. It was meant to look less like a flag of surrender by adding a large red stripe on the right of the banner, but sadly it was adopted too late in the war for many to reach the field before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
Bonnie Blue Flag
Although never an official national flag, during the Civil War this white star with the blue background was a common and popular symbol for secession, the Confederacy, and the Southern cause.
Original South Carolina Secession Flag
This flag was used as national flag of The Independent Commonwealth of South Carolina after its secession in 1860, but was changed after Mississippi’s secession in January 1861.
South Carolina State Flag
This is the flag of South Carolina after replacing the original and is also the modern state’s flag. The crescent moon is a symbol for liberty and the palmetto tree is the state tree of South Carolina.
Before Mississippi seceded from the Union in 1861, they didn’t have a state flag. When Mississippi left the Union a Bonnie Blue Flag was raised over the state capitol. The flag has a magnolia tree because of Mississippi being known as “The Magnolia State” and features a Bonnie Blue Flag in upper left-hand corner.
Original Florida Secession Flag
This flag was the provisional state flag of Confederate Florida from January to September 1861. In the upper left-hand corner is a Bonnie Blue Flag and 13 stripes, the same number of stripes as the United States flag, which represents the 13 original colonies of the Unites States.
The state flag of Florida was adopted on September 17, 1861 as the official flag of the state of Florida. On the left there’s a cannon with other Confederate flags sitting on the banks of the Gulf of Mexico and the stripes on the right are in the same pattern on the 1st National Flag.
The official flag of the Confederate state of Alabama, adopted on January 11, 1861. The flag features the Goddess of Liberty holding a sword and flag that says “Alabama” on it and the words “Independent Now and Forever” written above.
Although never official, this flag was the recognized state flag of Georgia from 1861 to 1865. The words Justice, Wisdom, and Moderation are wrapped around three pillars and Constitution is written on the roof above.
The flag was adopted as the state flag of Louisiana was adopted on February 11, 1861 after its secession. The 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies of America and blue, white, and red stripes stand for hope, virtue, and valor.
This banner was the state flag of Texas before, after, and during the Civil War. This flag and variants similar to this were also flown in battle during the war. It’s also known as the “Lone Star Flag” because of its single star, which represents the State and Republic of Texas (1836-1846).
Texas Secession Flag
This flag was a symbol of Texas secession during the debate for Texas joining the Confederacy before the war began.
This was the state flag of Virginia during the War of Northern Aggression. Pictured is the Roman Goddess of Virtue trampling on a tyrant king. “Sic Semper Tyrannis” in Latin means “Death Always to Tyrants.”
During the Civil War, Arkansas didn’t have a official state flag or a non-official one. This is the modern state flag of Arkansas, but this flag was used by some Arkansas regiments during the war.
North Carolina Flag
This was the official flag of North Carolina during the war. Its very similar to the flag of North Carolina today. The top date on the flag is when they seceded from Britain and the bottom is when they seceded from the United States. It was adopted after their secession and served as the first state flag of North Carolina.
This was the state flag of Tennessee during the War Between the States. The flag has the same stripe pattern as many other Southern flags and in the corner has a seal that says “Agriculture and Commerce.”
Since it didn’t secede, Missouri didn’t have an official Confederate state flag. This flag was used in battle by Confederate Missouri regiments during the Vicksburg Campaign and elsewhere and is the closest thing to a Confederate Missouri state flag. The flag contains a cross on a blue background trimmed in red.
Kentucky didn’t secede either but this flag was used by Kentucky regiments and Confederate Kentuckians to symbol rebellion. It features a red cross containing 13 stars, which symbolizes the 13 southern states, in a field of blue.
Although Maryland wasn’t one of the 13 southern states, it was still important to the Confederate cause. Known as the “Crossland Banner” this flag was flown by Confederate Marylanders. This banner makes up half of the modern Maryland flag. The other half is a yellow and black symbol that was flown by Marylanders were fought with the Union.
Although these flags were not official state flags, they are modernly displayed as Confederate symbols for much of the South. Mostly flags like these include one part of a state’s flag, thrown together with the Battle Flag.
Including the palmetto, crescent moon, and Battle Flag, this is a newly created South Carolinian Confederate flag.
Mississippi had used this banner as its state flag, although in different color shades, since 1894 until recently being changed earlier this year for being offensive because it contained a Battle Flag.
Instead of having a Battle Flag in the backdrop of the state seal, the modern flag of Florida just features a red cross with a white background, which symbolizes the Spanish Empire, who controlled most of Florida until shortly after the Revolutionary War.
Like other flags in this category, this flag has a Battle Flag on the right and Alabama’s state seal on the left.
Georgia and Mississippi are the only two US states that used to have a Battle Flag on their state flag. This was actually the official state flag of Georgia from 1956 until 2001 and features the seal of Georgia on the left and a Battle Flag on the right.
On the left, this flag has the pelican from the modern Louisiana state flag, except with a red background instead of blue, and on the right is the battle flag of the Army of Trans-Mississippi.
On the left of this flag is the Texas Lone Star, which can also be interpreted as the star on the Bonnie Blue Flag, and on the right is the very familiar Battle Flag.
The seal on the left of this flag is the same one featured on the modern Virginia flag and is similar to the one on the Confederate Virginia state flag.
This flag has the modern symbol of the state of Arkansas is middle and the Battle Flag in the background.
This flag features the Battle Flag and the dates of NC secession from Britain and when they allied themselves with the other 12 American colonies.
This flag has the symbol on Tennessee’s modern flag in the middle with a Battle Flag.
From 1861 to 1865 the the Southern states fought alongside Five Civilized Tribes of Indians these being, the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminiole, Creek, and Chickasaw. Irish immigrants fleeing the Irish Potato Famine also fought alongside Southerners during the war.
Flag of Confederate Cherokee Indians during the Civil War. This flag was the battle flag of Cherokee General Stand Watie, who fought in the Western Theater of the war, but was also used by other Cherokees. The five red stars represent the five tribes and the 11 stars represent the 11 Confederate states.
The Choctaw were the first Indian tribe to adopt an official flag. This was their flag during the Civil War and the center symbol of this flag is still their seal today.
A flag for the Seminole tribe that was was used during the war.
Very similar to the flag above, this was the flag of the Creek or Muscogee Indian tribe from Oklahoma.
The Chickasaw didn’t have their own flag during the 1860s so many of them fought under the Choctaw flag.
This was the main flag for Irish Confederates. Other flags contained the harp and the green background, but had something unique around the harp.
This flag flew over General Robert E. Lee’s camps and headquarters. It was designed by his wife and stars represent the Arch of the Covenant.
Flag of General John Bell Hood
This flag was used by General Hood of the Texas Brigade. Seven Pines and Gaines Farm were part of the Seven Days Battles where Hood’s men fought in Northern Virginia. Later on two more battles were added onto the flag, Eltham’s Landing and Malvern Hill.
Flag of General William J. Hardee
This was the flag of General Hardee during his time with the Confederacy. Hardee had served in US Army during the Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. He commanded the First Corps of the Army of Tennessee and served in Western Theater and Carolinas Campaign.
Flag of General Leonidas Polk
This was the battle flag of North Carolinian Confederate General Leonidas Polk. Polk was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, the founder of the Protestant Church of the Confederate States of America, and the Second Cousin of American President James K. Polk. This flag pattern is used in other flags and is known as the Polk Flag Pattern. The 11 stars are for the 11 states of the Confederacy. Polk would later be killed in action on June 14, 1864.
Flag of General Nathan Bedford Forrest
This flag was flown by Forrest’s Calvary Corps during the Civil War. You may notice that there’s a star missing in the center of the flag and it’s still debated which state wasn’t included today.
Flag of General Earl Van Dorn
Earl Van Dorn was a Confederate general from Mississippi and commanded the Trans-Mississippi District. He fought with distinction in the Mexican War and served in Arkansas and Tennessee during the Civil War. He lost to smaller Union forces on numerous occasions and was about to overcome his setbacks when he was killed by a doctor in May 1863 who claimed that Van Dorn had participated in an affair with his wife. The 13 stars on the flag stand for the 13 Southern states and the crescent moon is a symbol for liberty.
Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia
The battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia was used by the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee, J. E. Johnston, P. G. T. Beauregard, J. E. B. Stuart, and Stonewall Jackson. Yellow, orange, and white bunting was also used during the years of the war.
Flag of the Army of Trans-Mississippi
This flag served as the flag of the Army of Trans-Mississippi during the Civil War. The flag has the opposite colors of the normal Battle Flag having a red cross and a blue background. The Trans-Mississippi Theater of the Civil War consisted of three Confederate states Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.
Flag of the Army of Kentucky
The Army of Kentucky was one of the Confederate armies during the Confederate Heartland Offensive in which the Confederates tried to liberate Kentucky from Union occupation. After the offensive failed, the army was incorporated into the Army of Tennessee.
Flag of the Army of New Mexico
The Army of New Mexico, also known as the Sibley Brigade because of the commanding general, Henry Hopkins Sibley, was a Confederate army that participated in the New Mexico Campaign in which the Confederates attempted to take the northern part of the New Mexico Territory. The flag is a red variant of the Bonnie Blue Flag.
Flag of the Army of Tennessee
This flag is similar to the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, but instead of being square it’s rectangular. This army was the largest Confederate army in the Western Theater of the war and was commanded by Braxton Bragg, William Hardee, John Bell Hood, and Leonidas Polk.
First Naval Jack
A naval jack is a flag that flies at the bow or front of a ship but only when the ship is in port, leaving, or entering. After the ship set sail the flag was removed so the crew could see better. This was the jack from 1861 to 1863. The seven stars would later be updated to 11 in late 1861.
Second Naval Jack
The second naval jack of the Confederate States was flown from 1863 to 1865 and is the exact same as the flag of the Army of Tennessee, a rectangular Battle Flag.
Ensigns are flags flown at the stern of a ship and are used to identify a ship nationally. This was the first ensign of Southern ships and is the same as the 1st National Flag being flown from 1861 to 1863.
This flag served as the second ensign of the Confederacy from 1863 to 1865 and is the same as the 2nd National Flag.