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Robert Kennedy's United States History Class

The History of the Confederate States of America's Flags 

Bonnie Blue Flag

(unofficial flag of the CSA in early of 1861)

First Official CSA Flag


March 1861 to May of 1863.

Although less well known than the "Confederate Battle Flags",the Stars and Bars was used as the official flag of the Confederacy from March 1861 to May of 1863. The pattern and colors of this flag did not distinguish it sharply from the Stars and Stripes of the Union. Consequently, considerable confusion was caused on the battlefield.


The seven stars represent the original Confederate States; South Carolina (December 20, 1860), Mississippi(January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10,1861), Alabama (January 11, 1861), Georgia (January 19, 1861), Louisiana (January 26, 1861), and Texas (February 1, 1861).

Second Official CSA Flag

aka as "The Stainless Banner."

First Adopted May 1st,1863

On May 1st,1863, a second design was adopted, placing the Battle Flag (also known as the "Southern Cross") as the canton on a white field. This flag was easily mistaken for a white flag of surrender especially when the air was calm and the flag hung limply.


The flag now had 13 stars having been joined officially by four more states, Virginia (April 17, 1861), Arkansas (May 6, 1861), Tennessee (May 7, 1861), North Carolina (May 21, 1861). Efforts to secede failed in Kentucky and Missouri though those states were represented by two of the stars.


It's also the same flag that was explicitly designed to symbolize "heaven ordained supremacy."


Syracuse University historian Jonathan Wilson, who studies antebellum American literature, tracked down the meaning of the second Confederate flag as described by its designer, Thompson.


The following is William Thompson, the Savannah, Georgia Daily Morning News editor who designed the Confederate flag the quoted in an excerpt from the book Our Flag by George Preble:

Third Official Flag of the CSA

On March 4th,1865, a short time before the collapse of the Confederacy, a third pattern was adapted; a broad bar of red was placed on the fly end of the white field.

Film CSA:

(a great satire that, utilizing comedy shows the disturbing legacy of the CSA persists )

"Like" the course page for extra credit opportunities and to stay informed of how history persists to shape current events