The Third National Flag

From the first day the Second National Flag was run up the flag pole, complaints were made about its appearance. The most serious one was that when limp, in a windless day, it looked like an all-white flag of truce. Many flag makers attempted to resolve this problem by making the canton disproportionately large (see Plate Bi).

This did not solve the problem, however. The Daily Richmond Examiner suggested that since the horse symbolized the 'equestrian South', it should be used in black on a white flag as a new national flag. Indeed, the Confederacy's 'Great Seal' featured Virginian George Washington mounted on his war-horse. Although this suggested flag met some acceptance, there was also opposition, especially to giving up the battle flag, which had flown over so many hard-fought fields, as an element of the new flag.

Therefore, on 13 December 1864 Senate Bill No. 137 was introduced, specifying a new flag designed by an artilleryman, Major Arthur L. Rogers. It legislated 'That the flag of the Confederate States of America shall be as follows: The width two-thirds of its length, with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be in width three-fifths of the width of the flag, and so proportioned as to leave the length of the field on the side of the union twice the width of the field below it; to have the ground red and a broad blue saltier thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned with mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding in number to that of the Confederate States; the field to be white, except the outer half from the union to be a red bar extending the width of the flag.' According to Rogers, the white symbolized purity and innocence, and the red fortitude and courage. The cross of St. Andrew indicated descent from British stock, while the red bar was taken from the French flag, as

This Second National Flag was used as the headquarters flag ofMaj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke, who commanded troops defending Petersburg, Virginia, until ordered in December 1864, to North Carolina, where he served until surrendering with Joseph Johnston's army afterBcntonville. (North Carolina Museum of History)

Joseph Johnston

This machine-sewn Second National Flag is the product of the Richmond Clothing Depot and bears the unit designation around the centre star in the canton along with battle honours, the latest of which is Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863). (North Carolina Museum of History)

many other Southerners were descended from French stock.

After a great deal of consideration the bill was passed by the Senate without change on 6 February 1865 and by the House of Representatives on 27 February. It was signed into law on 4 March 1865 —

at which time the Confederacy measured its continued political existence in weeks. Indeed, because the Confederacy was so short-lived, few Third National Flags were made and most of those that were, were made by simply shortening the fly of Second National Flags and adding the red bar.

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