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  CONFEDERATE SOUTHERN CROSS “BATTLE FLAG”, AN UNUSUAL AND GRAPHICALLY PLEASING, REUNION PERIOD EXAMPLE, CA 1884-1900

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 62" x 62.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 50" x 50.25"
Description....:
Southern Cross format Confederate “Battle Flag”, with great graphics and true-to-size, made in the earliest part of the reunion era.

The flag would either have been made for use by the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), which formed in 1889 and served as the primary post-war organization for Confederate soldiers, or for the Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which was established in 1884 and thus actually pre-dated the men. In either case, it’s difficult to deny the endearing, physical beauty of this particular example, well-loved, attractively faded, and with lovely patina from the golden brown oxidation of the white fabric.

The construction of the flag most likely dates it to a narrow window between 1890 and 1895, when stars were most often appliquéd by machine with a lineal stitch. Before this time stars were typically hand-sewn. Afterwards they were most often applied through use of a zigzag machine stitch, which was patented for use on flags in 1892 and almost immediately went into widespread use because of its great advantages over lineal stitching.

Few Confederate flags can be found that date to this early part of the reunion period, probably because public celebration of war service by Southerners was slow to come. That changed with the arrival of the new century and as time passed, which led to an escalation in Confederate flag production.

The Confederacy had three successive national designs, known as the first, second, and third Confederate national flags. The original looked much like the Stars & Stripes. It consisted of 7 white stars arranged in a blue canton, and three linear stripes instead of thirteen (2 red with 1 white in-between). The star count was updated with the secession of additional states and/or the admission of border states by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. This is the flag known as the "Stars & Bars." Because they were so alike, 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. It was white in color, with the Southern Cross (the Confederate battle flag) serving as its canton. Soldiers and officers alike disliked this design because it looked too much like a surrender flag, and, so the story goes, if given the opportunity, would dip the end in blood to provide color.

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 the “blood stained banner”, but officially it did not represent blood, but rather paid homage to the French, who lent aid to the South during the war. Note how if you were to replace the first third of the flag with a blue vertical bar, the result would be the French tri-color, the national flag of France.

The Southern Cross battle flag, or the "Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia," as it is often called, was put into use more quickly than the adoption of the Second National Confederate design and was carried simultaneously by various Confederate units for the remainder of the war. The purpose was the same. It was a better signal, being distinctly different than the Stars & Stripes, but many people are surprised to learn that the Southern Cross, by itself, 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 it was Lee's flag, and because the second and third national designs were not particularly admired by Confederate soldiers, the second for reasons previously stated and the third because the design was so short-lived.

Construction: This is a one-sided flag, constructed entirely of cotton, pieced and appliquéd with lineal machine stitching.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% hemp fabric. The mount was placed in a substantial Italian molding with a hand-gilded and distressed surface and a wide convex profile. The front is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is minor to moderate foxing, staining, and significant fading throughout, accompanied by small holes and some minor to moderate tears, which were easily stabilized during the mounting process. The wear is particularly attractive. Many of my clients actually prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1884
Latest Date of Origin: 1900
State/Affiliation: The Confederacy
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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