Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5, 1861: (Friday): The Confederate Battle Flag Proposed

Confederate Battle Flag
MANASSAS, September 5, 1861.

General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Centerville, Va.:

DEAR GENERAL: Colonel Miles informs me that the flag committee voted down any change of our flag by a vote of four to one, he being alone in favor of it. I wrote to him then to propose that we should have two flags, a peace or parade flag and a war flag, to be used only on the field of battle; but, Congress having adjourned, no action will be taken on the matter. How would it do for us to address the War Department on the subject for a supply of regimental war or badge flags, made of red with two blue bars crossing each other diagonally, on which shall be introduced the States, the edge of the flag to be trimmed all around with white, yellow, or blue fringe. We would then on the field of battle know our friends from our enemies. I send you herewith a letter* written yesterday to General Cooper. It would seem that the smallminded politicians and newsmongers about Richmond cannot understand that we should be able to get alongk harmoniously tegether. To prevent any evil consequences resulting therefrom I though it was advisable to write said letter to Cooper.

Your, truly,


Perhaps the rumor is due to my having sent my ordnance officer to Richmond to hurry up all the artillery and war-rocket batteries he could possibly get. Let us each et all that we can of both, and then we will see about equalizing them to our forces. The latter can be done so likewise, if you desire it, when re-enforcements shall have stopped coming.

G. T. B.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 52, Page 272

After seeing the confusion between the Confederate national flag and the stars and stripes at Manassas, Beauregard determined to either see the national flag changed or a second flag, a battle flag, adopted which would be distinct from the Union flag.    His requests were rejected by Confederate Congress' flag committee, chaired by William Porcher Miles who served on Beauregard's staff.  Miles designed the battle flag, which is now most closely associated with the Southern Confederacy.  It originally was to have been a Saint George's cross, running horizontally, but it was angled in an attempt to avoid any religious associations. 

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