The history of the Confederate flag

Friday, January 3, 2014
By Joyce Whitis

A simple piece of painted cloth run up a pole and left to flap in the wind can bring tears to the eyes and a lump in the throat. Called “flags,” these pieces of cloth have become the center of cuss-fights, created new enemies and sometimes erupted into wars. The first thing the victor of a battle wants to do is rip down the enemy’s flag and burn it. To do so eradicates that enemy in the mind of the victor and even conceals the fact that he ever existed.

The flags that we fly show the world who we are and reveals the pride we have. We Texans have a very special pride that is manifest in our Lone Star Flag. Our flag is the only state flag that by law can fly at an equal height with Old Glory. That agreement was part of the bargain when we joined the Union. We fly that flag proudly and I would guess that the familiar Lone Star flag is recognized worldwide. The Texas flag was carried onto the field in hundreds of battles during the War Between the States and that conflict brought no disgrace, only honor to the Lone Star Flag.

So why do some folks decry the Confederate Flag which flew side by side with the Texas flag in that war? The answer is obvious. It is because a despicable group of outlaws stole the flag that belonged to the South and claimed it for their own deviltry.This flag has become a symbol of hate, bigotry, and racial tension in the minds of many. For those of us who wish to remember our ancestors and their gallant effort to defend their homes from an invasion by the North, this is indeed unfortunate.

There are many flags of the Confederacy but none of the others seem to stir people’s emotions in the way that the sight of the red field with white stars on blue cross stripes does. This flag, sometimes called St. Andrew’s Cross; usually called The Battle Flag, is correctly called, the Naval Jack. It was adopted by the CSA in 1863. The Battle Flag, adopted in 1861, is the same design but is square in shape instead of a parallelogram.

The First National Flag or “Stars and Bars” with two red stripes separated by a white stripe with a blue field and a circle of 7 stars (representing the first states to secede of which Texas was the seventh) was adopted by the Confederacy in 1861. This is the flag usually flown with the other flags in a grouping of the six flags that have flown over Texas.

When carried into battle, The First National was easy to confuse with the Stars and Stripes. Also there were now 11 states that had seceded so, in 1863 another flag was designed. Called the Second National or Stainless Banner, this flag is white with a smaller version of the Naval Jack in the upper left corner. When carried into battle there was so much white showing that it sometimes looked like a flag of surrender, so a wide strip of red cloth was added across the end. This was called the Third National Flag and was designed in 1865.

By that time the South was falling to its knees and in order to stop the terrible toll on his people, General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Of all the flags adopted by the South, only the Battle Flag did not change and the design was incorporated into at least three other flags, all a part of the CSA. The most recognized Confederate flag is the Naval Jack and today it is commonly called the Confederate flag and is displayed around the world by those who wish to remember their Southern heritage and respect their ancestors.

Unfortunately for a large part of the population, the familiar red. white and blue flag represents slavery and a general degrading of the black race. The reason for this is apparent when it is noted that the KKK sieged this flag to represent their criminal intent to terrorize and murder individuals of another race. This is regrettable but cannot be changed by those whose thought about these flags is respect for their ancestors, not oppression of anyone.

An interesting thought here is that these flags of the Confederacy never flew over any slave ship. Other flags of other countries, including the Star Spangled Banner flew from the masts of those slave ships, not the Confederate flag.

© Copyright 2014, Stephenville Empire-Tribune

On The Web: