|CONFEDERATE SOUTHERN CROSS “BATTLE FLAG”, A SCARCE, UNUSUALLY ACCURATE AND GRAPHICALLY PLEASING, REUNION PERIOD EXAMPLE, SIGNED "WOLVERINE," SHERRITT FLAG CO., RICHMOND, VA, 1922-WWII ERA
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 62" x 64.5"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||50.5" x 53"|
|Among the reunion-era, Southern Cross, Confederate battle-format flags that I have encountered in the marketplace, this example, constructed of pieced wool bunting with double-appliquéd cotton stars, is one of the best in terms of its replication of a realistic style. Among the surprisingly few pieced-and-sewn Confederate flags that exist in any format that pre-date the 1940's, even fewer appear in the square profile of Civil War infantry and artillery flags. More have the rectangular format of the Confederate Navy Jack, flown on ships at the bow when in port or moored at anchor. Even fewer, like this flag, have the white border to replicate the Third - Seventh Bunting Issues made for The Army of Northern Virginia at the Richmond Depot. This version is probably the most widely recognized today by Civil war enthusiasts in accurate historical imagery. Due to this fact, it is the perfect addition to any collection that calls for an appropriate example of a Confederate, Army of Northern Virginia, Southern Cross battle flag. Because war-period examples are cost-prohibitive for most collectors, this is a fine, rare, and interesting alternative.
The flag bears a label with the brand name "Wolverine," that reads: "The Sun Never Sets on Our Windproof Wolverine Flags; Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.; Sherritt Flag Company; Richmond Co., Virginia. Sherritt opened its doors in 1922. Based upon construction and materials, this particular example dates sometime between that year and WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45), and probably on the earlier side of this date bracket. While the company is known to have been active in the production of both Stars & Stripes and Confederate flags, the label is unique in my experience and this is the only flag that I have ever identified to this maker.
The flag would have been made for use by the United Confederate Veterans or a similar association for parade and reunion activities. The UCV was established in 1889 as a "benevolent, historical, social, and literary association" and was active from 1889 to the mid-1940’s. Its mission was to "unite in a general federation all associations of Confederate veterans, soldiers and sailors, now in existence or hereafter to be formed; to gather authentic data for an impartial history of the war between the States; to preserve relics or mementos of the same; to cherish the ties of friendship that should exist among men who have shared common dangers, common sufferings and privations; to care for the disabled and extend a helping hand to the needy; to protect the widows and the orphans, and to make and preserve a record of the services of every member, and as far as possible of those of our comrades who have preceded us in eternity." [Source: http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/findaid/u1357.html] The Daughters of the Confederacy, which served the women of the South in a similar manner, was actually established first, in 1884, because it was safer for women to organize in post-war times. Together these two organizations quickly came to serve as the primary fraternal groups for Confederate soldiers and their families.
Construction: The panels, crossed bars, border and hoist are all made of wool bunting that has been pieced with machine stitching. The stars are double-appliquéd with a zigzag stitch. There is an open sleeve along the hoist, made of wool bunting, and the thickness is double-layered all-around for strength, meaning that the binding area is effectively quadruple-layered. The label is made of synthetic silk (viscose/rayon), which appeared in production in the 1890's abroad and was first produced in quantity in the U.S. in 1910 by the Avtex Fibers Incorporated. The label is curiously located on the bottom white border on the obverse, adjacent to the hoist. I have never seen a maker's label placed in this sort of position. The common location is on the hoist binding.
A Brief History of Confederate Flag Design:
The Confederacy had three successive national designs, known as the first, second, and third Confederate national flags. The first looked much like the Stars & Stripes. Also known as "The Stars & Bars", it consisted of 7 white stars arranged on a blue canton and three linear stripes, which were instead termed "bars" (2 red with 1 white in-between).
Use of the Stars & Stripes and the Stars & Bars on the same battlefield created great confusion. For this reason, the second national Confederate flag was adopted on May 26th, 1863. Known as the Stainless Banner, it was white in color, with the Southern Cross (a.k.a. the Confederate Battle Flag) serving as its canton. Soldiers and officers alike disliked this design because it looked too much like a surrender flag, especially if a unit that was carrying it was headed straight at you and there was no cross wind. If given the opportunity, soldiers would dip the fly end of the flag in blood.
36 days before the war’s end a red vertical bar was added at the fly end and the result became the third national design. This was called the “blood stained banner”, but officially the red did not represent blood, but rather paid homage to the French, who lent aid to the South during the war. If one were to replace the first third portions of the Third Confederate national flag with a blue vertical bar, the result would be the French tri-color (the national flag of France).
Many people are surprised to learn that by itself the Southern Cross was not the national flag of the Confederate States of America. Officially, in rectangular format, it served as the Confederate Navy Jack. In square format it came to be called “the battle flag”, partly because it was carried in this format, for that purpose, by Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, as well as by Beauregard’s Army and others. It also received widespread love in the South because the second and third national designs were not particularly admired by Confederate soldiers, the second for reasons previously stated and the third because it was so short-lived. Production of Southern Cross battle flags began in late 1861 and coincided with the national versions.
Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, which has been washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.
Condition: There is very minor mothing and there are very minor losses, but there are no further condition issues of significance.
|Collector Level:||Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1922|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1945|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|