Army The Potomac Regimental Flag

Headquarters Pennant, Army of the Potomac, July, 1863

Flags that are documented as having actually been present at a crucial moment in history are very rare, but Brig. Gen. Webb's Headquarters Pennant is one of them. This was the flag flown at the Headquarters of 2nd Brigade. 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, commanded by Brig. Gen. Alexander Stewart Webb. The brigade, numbering some 1,220 men, was made up of four Pennsylvania infantry regiments: the 69th, 71st, 72nd, and 106th. On July 3, 1863, the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the brigade held a position on Cemetery Ridge near "the copse of trees," a position which was to become the focal point of the Confederate assault later known to history as "Pickett's Charge." The brigade was organized in two lines, with the 69th and 71st Regiments to the fore, posted behind a stone wall and breastwork, while the rest of the brigade was in the depth position, some 40 yards (37m) to the rear, on the ridge overlooking them. The Confederates of Pickett's Division (1st Corps, Army of North Virginia), led by Gen. Armistead, reached the stone wall, but got no further. Withering fire from the ridge and from the Rebel right flank (from regiments of Colonel Norman Hall's 3rd Brigade) broke the attack. This flag was carried at that action: the high watermark of the Confederacy.

Soon after the Battle of Gettysburg the flag was placed in safe-keeping at the Union League of Philadelphia, in whose hands it still remains.

Ail<'scl couitesv o> Ttte Uinon lesgoe ol PrvlMtrlphis
British Cavalry Guidons

Union Cavalry Guidons

Federal swallowtail cavalry and battery guidons are colorful and relatively small, and therefore easy to display in a private home setting; indeed, they continued to be available in collectors' circles until about the end of the 1980s. They were never inexpensive, and all now require careful conservation. The state of Pennsylvania and the Civil War Library and Museum both have excellent specimens, as do other military museums, and several are in National Park Service hands at several battlefields.

National guidon of Company C, 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, issued at the close of the war and carried by that unit in the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac, along Pennsylvania Avenue,

Washington. D.C.. May 23, 1865. Note the numerous battle honors in gilt paint on the flag, beginning with the Seven Days' Campaign and concluding with Appomattox Court House

Flags Appomattox Court House

YORKTOV /iiUAMSiBURG,savage'? station. JORDAN'. 3rd. ^RLES CITY cross roads.









6th Cavalry Flag

State guidon of Company G, 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry. This high quality flag was one of 112 manufactured by Holtsmann, Brother and Company of Philadelphia, and the only surviving specimen of this pattern. Note the Pennsylvania State coat-of-arms on the top

National guidon of Company I, 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, complete with battle honors inscribed. The last battle honor, "Gettysburg," would date this particular cavalry color to some time after July 1863. The company served at Gen. Meade's headquarters during that battle

Union 7th Kentucky Infantry Regiment Color

This is the color of the 7th Kentucky Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, which includes its battle honors, as well as the regimental title. The present-day fragility of such important relics of the Civil War is clear from the fading in the bottom right-hand corner.


Arkansas Post,

7™ Kentucky Vet.Vol


Union Naval Ensign

Naval ensigns are normally very large and thus difficult both to collect and to display. Thus, those few that do remain are usually to be found in the larger collections at places such as the United States Navy Museum at the Washington

Navy Yard and the United States Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Md, although this particular example comes from The Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia, Pa.

This ensign was flown aboard

the USS San Jacinto, a 2,200 ton screw corvette sloop, armed with twelve 8-inch (203mm) and four 32-pounder guns. Earlier in the war, on November 8, 1861, this vessel, then commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes, U.S.N., stopped the British ship Trent which was carrying Confederate commissioners. Later, in January 1865, the San Jacinto was under the command of Captain Richard W Meade, U.S.N., when it ran aground and was wrecked in the Bahamas.

Rebel Flag Coal Miner

Confederate National Flags

The Confederate States of America adopted three national flags during their short existence. The first, known as the "Stars and Bars," is by far the most common. The second, the "Stainless Banner," utilized the well-known Confederate battleflag on the canton (upper left hand corner). The last pattern, authorized during the final weeks of the war, saw very limited use, but was more popular in postwar years. Examples of these flags exist in various southern state collections, but they were generally neglected until recent years and, as a result, most are now in desperate need of conservation.

1 Confederate National Flag. First Pattern Though never actually authorized by law, the "Stars and Bars' was adopted by the Provisional Congress of Confederate States on March 4, 1861. in time to coincide with Lincoln's inauguration. The flag first flew above the capitol at Montgomery, Alabama, where the Congress was then sitting

2 Confederate National Flag. Second Pattern. Known as the "Stainless Banner," this was the first national Confederate flag to be adopted by law, under the Confederate Senate Bill No. 132 of May 1. 1863. It was first 1 used officially at the funeral of Stonewall Jackson, where it covered j

Prginal Confederate Flag Veritical

the general's coffin. This particular example was the headquarters flag of General Jubal A. Early 3 Confederate National Flag, Third Pattern. From the very moment of the adoption of the Second Pattern flag, critics said that it looked too much like a white flag of truce, with particularly strong criticism coming from some officers of the Confederate Navy. The Confederate Government eventually conceded and the Congress consequently decided on this third and last pattern - essentially the Second Pattern with an additional vertical red bar - which was officially adopted on March 4, 1865

Rebel Flag Variations

Confederate First and Second National Flag Variants

Variations of the Confederate National Flags First and Second Patterns can be found in many of the public collections, indicating just how prevalent they were. Some of the rarer patterns of flags, particularly those used in the western theater, are hardly recognizable as Confederate, except by the students of such colors, and some particularly unusual variants can now be found in the Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, Kentucky, and Arkansas state collections. An added complication is that modern media tends to recognize the battleflag as the

"Confederate flag," which has added to the confusion of younger generations.

1 Confederate National Flag, First Pattern variant. Probably the color of the 25th Virginia Volunteer Infantry, this flag was captured by Federal forces in an engagement at Phillipi, western Virginia, in 1861. The engagement, though a small one, was an early popular victory for the North | and an ignominious rout for the Confederates

2 First Pattern Flag variant. The flag of the Flat Rock Riflemen, Company C, j

Confederate Flags




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(C 1


20th Virginia Volunteer Infantry

3 First Pattern Flag Variant. Probably the flag of Company E. 1st Regiment. Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. This regiment mustered in at the beginning of the war, went east, and served for only a short time in Virginia. It had mustered out by 1862

4 Confederate National Flag, Second

Pattern Variant. The flag of the 9th Regiment, Arkansas Volunteer Infantry. This flag was carried at engagements against Federal forces throughout the conflict in the western theater: namely Corinth, Missouri; Franklin, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Bentonville, North Carolina

Missouri State Guard Flag


Aitilacis coo'iesy ol The Museum of ihe Conledoracy. Richmond. Va

424 425

)istinctive State Flags of the Confederacy

Southern state flags are visual )evidence of the strong feeling of eir rights among individual mfederate states, and the addition patriotic slogans was quite mmonplace. A large number of ch flags, captured during the war, ?re returned to their states of origin the Federal Government in the rly decades of the twentieth itury and they now usually reside their respective state capitols. my of these flags, oil-painted on c or embroidered, are really works art, and need professional care yv, if future generations are to be e to see them.

North Carolina State Flag, unit unknown. At a convention held at Raleigh, on May 20, 1861. North Carolina became the eleventh State to secede from the Union and the new state flag was adopted on June 22. 1861. This follows the pattern of the Texas flag in many respects, including the use of the lone star, a popular device among several Southern states.

Virginia State Seal Flag, unit unknown. The Old Dominion, in convention, took its first vote to secede on April 17, 1861; its flag was adopted on April 20. The State Seal dated from the Revolutionary War and features the

Semper Tyrannis Meaning

figure of "Liberty" and the Latin inscription. Sic Semper Tyrannis. meaning, 'Ever Thus to Tyrants " Virginia State troops were first called to the colors to defend the state from the Federal authority on the same day that the convention voted on secession

3 Flag of the Florida Independent Blues, Company B, 3rd Regiment Florida Volunteer Infantry

4 South Carolina State Seal Flag of Company B, 5th Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry t BI T SVfl t BI T SVfl

Battleflags of the Army of Northern Virginia

The battleflag of the Confederate States is easily one of the most recognizable symbols worldwide; indeed, many people believe it to have been the national flag of the Confederacy. This flag, in its myriad configurations, of which a very few examples are shown here, was the rallying point of one of the finest armies of the nineteenth century. It has about it today a mystique like no other, but unfortunately this symbol of a long defunct military organization has been associated with various radical political groups. Specimens exist in many southern state collections, and isolated examples may be seen in some northern museums, but, without a doubt, the repository of the finest collection of such battleflags is The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va.

Probably the flag of the 4th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, captured by Federal troops at the Battle of Chancellorsville. This flag is of the second bunting issue

Chancellorsville Flag

HactS cou'tesy ol The Museum ol the Confederacy. Richmond

7th Texas Flag

Top Left:

Flag of the 7th Regiment Virginia Volunteer Infantry. This color was captured by Federal forces during the Battle of Gettysburg, where the regiment was part of Kemper's Brigade of Pickett's Division.

Top Right:

Flag of the 9th Regiment Virginia Volunteer Infantry. This color was captured by Federal forces at the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia, April 1, 1865. The regiment was holding a position at Five Forks, on the far right of the A.N.V. line at Petersburg, when the position was carried by Union troops under the command of General Sheridan

Bottom Left:

Flag of Courtney's Virginia High Constabulary, which was captured at Spotsylvania Court House, May. 1864. This flag is of the third bunting issue

Bottom right: Flag of an unknown unit captured at Sayler's Creek. Virginia, April 6, 1865. This was the last major engagement fought between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. This flag is of the fourth bunting issue

Confederate Flag DistinctiveConfederate Flag Distinctive Confederate Naval Flags

Distinctive Unit Flags of the Confederacy

All Confederate flags have been popular collectibles, even during the war, but in recent years this mystique has assumed considerable stature. While the bulk of surviving Confederate flags now reside in public collections, most of them in the states of their origin, some are still in private hands, either trophies of war passed down in families or acquired in various ways. Unfortunately, the flags have become so sought after that substantial numbers of outright fakes have appeared, while other altered or modified flags have been passed off as "Confederate," and extreme caution must be exercised when considering the have carried this name: Company A, 8th Regiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry, and the 4th Battalion, Texas Artillery. Of special note on this flag is the large central star, a device quite common to flags of Texas units, which copies that state's well-known emblem

3 Flag of the 8th Regiment, Virginia Volunteer Infantry. This flag, which is of particularly high quality materials, was presented to the unit by General P G. T. Beauregard, in recognition of its soldiers' valor in combat against Union forces at the Battle of Balls Bluff (Leesburg), Virginia, October 21, 1861. The explanation of the quality of both material and workmanship is that the flag was actually made by General Beauregard's wife from one of her own silk dresses purchase of such an artifact. The extensive collection at The Museum of the Confederacy can provide numerous specimens for com-' parative study.

Flag of the 4th Missouri Infantry, carried at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas, March 7-8, 1862. This pattern flag is typical of those flown out West by units serving in the Trans-Mississippi Department of| the Confederacy, under the command of General Earl Van Dorn, and is commonly known as the Van Dorn Pattern flag

Flag of the Van Dorn Guards of Texas. Two Confederate units are known to

Distinctive Unit Flags of the Confederacy (continued)

Although the Confederate States of America had three National Flags and a battleflag authorized by law, flags extant today indicate usage of a great variety of patterns. Companies within regiments carried their own flags early in the war, while commanders of larger units adopted their own patterns, and military area commanders devised peculiar patterns for their areas. States also issued flags, usually bearing some form of the State Seal.

Some flags bore slogans, such as "Victory or Death"; others carried their units' nicknames, like the "Bartow Yankee Killers" and "Floyd Rangers";

yet others were adapted from thJ flags of local militia.

Sometimes the colors had been lovingly sewn out of the fabric of wedding dresses, but more ofter^ they were simple sewn bits of color to act as symbolic banners until the national government furnished! genuine regulation banners. Of course, complete military uniformity^ in flags, as with every other aspect of army supply, always evaded the South. Material such as silk, cotton,) wools, lady's dresses, even grain! sacks all did service as battle colors.! Excellent collections exist today in I most Southern state capitols; the I

premier collection, consisting of over 500 flags, is housed at The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va.

1 Maryland State Seal flag

2 Confederate First National Flag carried by the "Dixie Rangers"

3 Army of Northern Virginia battleflag fragment

4 Battleflag of the 3rd Florida Infantry

Company 3rd Florida Infantry

Confederate Unit Flags: Variant Patterns

With such a large number of different patterns and variations, the study of Confederate flags has developed into a field of its own. Of particular interest are western theater flags that would not even be identified as Confederate by the layman. To have any grasp of the subject, the reader is referred to the definitive source on the subject: The Battleflags of the Army of the Tennessee, by Howard Michael M. Madaus and Robert D. Needham. Fine specimens exist in the Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas state collections, as well as the Museum of the Confederacy. There have been fakes manufactured in the last couple of decades, in some cases using period bunting, and collectors are advised to take extreme caution.

Flag of the 1st Kentucky Brigade, Army of Tennessee , known to history as the "Orphan" Brigade. The unit consisted for most of the war of the 2nd. 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th Kentucky Infantry Regiments, together with a unit of artillery. The brigade saw action in nearly every major engagement of the western theater, and in that time saw their numbers fall from more than 4.000 to a little over 600 L_

Leonidas Polk FlagBragg Pattern Battle Flag

Right: Polk Pattern unit flag, possibly of the 16th Tennessee Infantry. The distinctive battle flag of General Leonidas Polk featured the cross of Saint George, which was also the emblem of the Episcopal Church, of which Polk was the bishop of Louisiana

Top left:

Hardee Pattern flag of an unknown Confederate regiment. Army of Tennessee. As inscribed on the flag, it was captured at Lookout Mountain, during the Battle of Chattanooga, November 24. 1863, by a soldier of the 149th New York Infantry

Top right:

A Confederate hospital site designation flag captured at Waynesborough, Virginia, March 1865, by soldiers of the 8th New York Cavalry

Polk Confederate Flag

Confederate Battleflags: Western Variants

Variations of the St. Andrew's Cross were used as the battleflag of many units serving in the western theater. In general these flags were rectangular in shape, unlike those of the Army of

Northern Virginia, which were generally square. Such flags are avidly sought, but few are in private hands. The premier collection is to be found at the Museum of the Confederacy.

Flag of the 1st and 3rd (combined) Regiments. Florida Volunteer Infantry, issued to the unit in 1864

Commonwealth Oil Company Issued 1864

missionary ridge

13th Louisiana Infantry Flags


Flag of the 13th Regiment Louisiana Volunteer Infantry, issued to the unit, April 1864


Flag of the 57th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, at one time a unit of Bragg's corps. Army of Mississippi/Army of Tennessee. The shape, the large pink border around the flag, and the twelve, six-pointed stars, indicate that this is the second pattern flag of Bragg's corps. The first had been smaller and squarer, of the type introduced into the western theater by General Beauregard, after he was transferred from Virginia in February, 1862. These flags follow the same basic pattern as those first issued to the Army of Northern Virginia in November 1861. These flags were usually made of wool bunting rather than silk, which was found to wear too quickly under campaign conditions

Below right:

Unit flag of the 57th Regiment Mississippi Volunteer Infantry. At one time a unit of Hindman's Division, in A. S. Johnston's Army of Tennessee. This flag was issued to the regiment some time after March 1864

Tennessee Infantry Flag6th Kentucky Flag

6th Kentucky Infantry Battleflag

The 6th Regiment Kentucky were inscribed on the narrow white ■ Volunteer Infantry battle honors border to the St. Andrew's Cross.

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  • giorgia zetticci
    When was the army of the potomac headquarters flag adopted?
    8 years ago
  • trahand
    Who were the generals of the 154rth regiment of tennessee?
    8 years ago

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