The History of the Confederate Flag

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By mishel

There is a strong chance you have seen the Confederate flag, no matter where you grew up in the United States. Perhaps on a bumper sticker or license plate or on a sign that hangs outside a house or government facility. It is even possible to buy Confederate Texas flags from Ultimateflags.

During the Civil War, the Confederate States of America had three flags, but the battle flag was not one of them. Instead, the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia is what most people connect with the Confederacy.

Nowadays the Confederate flag history is primarily focued on its usage as a rebel banner rather than its origins. It is commonly used to denote resistance to equity among people of all races and creeds. But what is the actual history of this divisive symbol?

The Stars and Bars

Despite being intrinsically identified with the Confederacy, the flag was never the Confederacy’s official symbol. When the rebels fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861, they flew the Bonnie Blue Flag, a blue banner with a single white star. However, after secession began, the Confederate States of America chose a flag based on the Union’s stars and stripes.

The flag, known as the “Stars and Bars,” consist of  a white star for its each Confederate state with a clear blue background, along with three stripes, two red and one white. It stood out from the Union flag. But it was difficult to tell the two apart in the heat of combat. As a result, several troops accidentally shot their own colleagues, causing serious issues.

The Second Flag

General Pierre Beauregard commissioned the creation of a new battle flag. It was created by William Porcher Miles, a Confederate politician and Beauregard’s aide-de-camp, who used the X-shaped pattern known as St. Andrew’s Cross and emblazoned it with one star for each seceding state. This one did not catch on.

Robert E Lee and the Battle Flag

Several Confederate forces flew the Confederate flag throughout the American Civil War. One of their armies was headed by General Robert E. Lee, a romantic character in American history. Lee headed an army whose men abducted free Black farmers and sold them into slavery, encouraged the beating of slaves who tried to flee, and fought to maintain the system of slavery.

The Civil War ended with his surrender at Appomattox Court House. Nonetheless, following his death, the Confederate flag was frequently flown by numerous anti-civil rights individuals and organizations.

The Confederate Flag Today

When a white supremacist murdered nine churchgoers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, the flag roared back into the public consciousness. 

We can see the photographs of the  gunman, Dylann Roof, carrying Confederate battle flags, numerous states were aree to remove them. 

South Carolina, which had boldly flown the banner at its capital for years, decommissioned it that year, and many stores ceased selling products using the flag, which the Anti-Defamation League had deemed a hate symbol.

In the modern world, this flag is extremely marketable and iconic, but its history as a banner for racism cannot be forgotten. With prominent users waving it in opposition to civil rights, racial integration, and justice, it has a dark and racist history.