Media: Slideshow

Confederate National Flags

First National Flag of the Confederacy ("Stars and Bars")

This flag, a version of the first Confederate national flag, or Stars and Bars, was captured by Sergeant Nicholas D. Brown, of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, at Columbia, South Carolina. Used from March 4 to May 21, 1861, his is the first of the first national flags, with seven stars representing the first seven states to secede. Later versions had nine, eleven, and thirteen stars.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. 1861

Medium: Flag

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Envelope Showing Confederate Flag

This envelope, addressed to Miss Lou Taylor at 461 Sixth St., Cincinnati, Ohio, depicts the Confederate first national flag, or the Stars and Bars.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: Between 1861 and 1865

Medium: Envelope

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Mosby's War Reminiscences

The cover for John Mosby's book about his experiences during the Civil War includes an image of the author riding on horseback with his sword upraised and the first Confederate national flag, or Stars and Bars, unfurled behind him. The memoir by the former Confederate colonel bore the full title Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns and was first published in 1887.

Original Author: John Mosby

Created: 1887

Medium: Book cover

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

General Robert E. Lee's Headquarters Flag

This wool and cotton banner served as the headquarters flag for Confederate general Robert E. Lee from June 1862 until the summer of 1863. Believed to have been sewn by Lee's wife, Mary Custis Lee and the couple's daughters, its design is similar to the First National Flag, or the "Stars and Bars," which featured red and white horizontal bars and white stars on a blue canton. The Stars and Bars looked so similar to the United States flag it confused Confederate forces into firing on their own men at the First Battle of Manassas (1861).

The flag's thirteen stars represent the eleven states of the Confederacy, along with Missouri and Kentucky, which remained in the Union but had significant secessionist factions. On Lee's headquarters flag, the stars are arranged in the so–called Bread of Life pattern. According to the historian Joseph H. Crute Jr. the pattern represents the Ark of the Covenant and was "symbolic of the Bread of Life which is the symbol of spiritual nourishment." The scholar Robert N. Rosen further argues that such imagery is "consistent with Southerners' fascination with ancient Israel" and Old Testament symbols.

The flag may have suggested Lee's own religious conviction, a somber brand of evangelical Protestantism he embraced in the 1850s after the deaths of his beloved mother–in–law and favorite sister and which left him dejected and self–critical. Lee replaced this banner with a new headquarters flag after the Confederate government adopted the Second National Flag in May 1863.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. 1862

Medium: Flag

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy, photography by Katherine Wetzel

Second Confederate National Flag

This engraving by John C. McRae, published in 1867, shows the second Confederate national flag against a night sky. Adopted on May 1, 1863, and popularly known as the Stainless Banner, the flag incorporated the Confederate battle flag in its canton. Here, the flag is surrounded by battle scenes: the Battle of Hampton Roads (1862), in the lower left; the Battle of the Wilderness (1864), in the upper left; the Battle of the Crater (1864), in the upper right; and the surrender at Appomattox (1865), in the lower right. 

Original Author: John C. McRae

Created: ca. May 22, 1867

Medium: Engraving

Courtesy of Virginia Military Institute Archives

Flag Commemorating Rio Hill

A $500 silk flag—an example of the second Confederate national flag—is embellished with a pair of crossed cannons and the salutation: "From the Ladies of Charlottesville To Stuart's Horse Artillery, Our 'Brave Defenders.'" Local women presented the flag to the Confederate unit in the wake of the skirmish known as the "battle" of Rio Hill that took place outside of Charlottesville in February 1864.

Original Author: Ladies of Charlottesville

Created: ca. 1864

Medium: Flag

Courtesy of Jefferson County Museum

Varina Davis's Butterfly Quilt

Varina Davis, the former First Lady of the Confederacy, made this memorial butterfly quilt in the years following the Civil War. Silk, velvet, and chenille were used to create the elaborate foliage, while satin was used to make the flags and shield. Among other things, it depicts the first Confederate national flag (upper left), the second national flag (upper right), and the battle flag (lower left). The quilt was donated to the Museum of the Confederacy by the Davis's granddaughter in 1925.

Original Author: Varina Davis

Created: post-1865

Medium: Handmade memorial quilt

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

Third Confederate National Flag

This image shows the third Confederate national flag, designed by William T. Thompson and approved on March 4, 1865. It incorporates the Confederate battle flag in the canton and differs from the second natioanl flag only by the red vertical stripe. It was popularly known as the blood-stained banner.

Original Author: William T. Thompson

Created: 1865

Medium: Digital Image

Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

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  • First National Flag of the Confederacy ("Stars and Bars")

    This flag, a version of the first Confederate national flag, or Stars and Bars, was captured by Sergeant Nicholas D. Brown, of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, at Columbia, South Carolina. Used from March 4 to May 21, 1861, his is the first of the first national flags, with seven stars representing the first seven states to secede. Later versions had nine, eleven, and thirteen stars.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. 1861

    Medium: Flag

    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  • Envelope Showing Confederate Flag

    This envelope, addressed to Miss Lou Taylor at 461 Sixth St., Cincinnati, Ohio, depicts the Confederate first national flag, or the Stars and Bars.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: Between 1861 and 1865

    Medium: Envelope

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

  • Mosby's War Reminiscences

    The cover for John Mosby's book about his experiences during the Civil War includes an image of the author riding on horseback with his sword upraised and the first Confederate national flag, or Stars and Bars, unfurled behind him. The memoir by the former Confederate colonel bore the full title Mosby's War Reminiscences and Stuart's Cavalry Campaigns and was first published in 1887.

    Original Author: John Mosby

    Created: 1887

    Medium: Book cover

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

  • General Robert E. Lee's Headquarters Flag

    This wool and cotton banner served as the headquarters flag for Confederate general Robert E. Lee from June 1862 until the summer of 1863. Believed to have been sewn by Lee's wife, Mary Custis Lee and the couple's daughters, its design is similar to the First National Flag, or the "Stars and Bars," which featured red and white horizontal bars and white stars on a blue canton. The Stars and Bars looked so similar to the United States flag it confused Confederate forces into firing on their own men at the First Battle of Manassas (1861).

    The flag's thirteen stars represent the eleven states of the Confederacy, along with Missouri and Kentucky, which remained in the Union but had significant secessionist factions. On Lee's headquarters flag, the stars are arranged in the so–called Bread of Life pattern. According to the historian Joseph H. Crute Jr. the pattern represents the Ark of the Covenant and was "symbolic of the Bread of Life which is the symbol of spiritual nourishment." The scholar Robert N. Rosen further argues that such imagery is "consistent with Southerners' fascination with ancient Israel" and Old Testament symbols.

    The flag may have suggested Lee's own religious conviction, a somber brand of evangelical Protestantism he embraced in the 1850s after the deaths of his beloved mother–in–law and favorite sister and which left him dejected and self–critical. Lee replaced this banner with a new headquarters flag after the Confederate government adopted the Second National Flag in May 1863.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. 1862

    Medium: Flag

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy, photography by Katherine Wetzel

  • Second Confederate National Flag

    This engraving by John C. McRae, published in 1867, shows the second Confederate national flag against a night sky. Adopted on May 1, 1863, and popularly known as the Stainless Banner, the flag incorporated the Confederate battle flag in its canton. Here, the flag is surrounded by battle scenes: the Battle of Hampton Roads (1862), in the lower left; the Battle of the Wilderness (1864), in the upper left; the Battle of the Crater (1864), in the upper right; and the surrender at Appomattox (1865), in the lower right. 

    Original Author: John C. McRae

    Created: ca. May 22, 1867

    Medium: Engraving

    Courtesy of Virginia Military Institute Archives

  • Flag Commemorating Rio Hill

    A $500 silk flag—an example of the second Confederate national flag—is embellished with a pair of crossed cannons and the salutation: "From the Ladies of Charlottesville To Stuart's Horse Artillery, Our 'Brave Defenders.'" Local women presented the flag to the Confederate unit in the wake of the skirmish known as the "battle" of Rio Hill that took place outside of Charlottesville in February 1864.

    Original Author: Ladies of Charlottesville

    Created: ca. 1864

    Medium: Flag

    Courtesy of Jefferson County Museum

  • Varina Davis's Butterfly Quilt

    Varina Davis, the former First Lady of the Confederacy, made this memorial butterfly quilt in the years following the Civil War. Silk, velvet, and chenille were used to create the elaborate foliage, while satin was used to make the flags and shield. Among other things, it depicts the first Confederate national flag (upper left), the second national flag (upper right), and the battle flag (lower left). The quilt was donated to the Museum of the Confederacy by the Davis's granddaughter in 1925.

    Original Author: Varina Davis

    Created: post-1865

    Medium: Handmade memorial quilt

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

  • Third Confederate National Flag

    This image shows the third Confederate national flag, designed by William T. Thompson and approved on March 4, 1865. It incorporates the Confederate battle flag in the canton and differs from the second natioanl flag only by the red vertical stripe. It was popularly known as the blood-stained banner.

    Original Author: William T. Thompson

    Created: 1865

    Medium: Digital Image

    Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division