|CONFEDERATE SOUTHERN CROSS “BATTLE FLAG”, AN EARLY REUNION ERA EXAMPLE, GRAPHICALLY ACCURATE AND GRAPHICALLY PLEASING, WITH ESPECIALLY LARGE STARS AND A WHITE BORDER, CA 1895-1910
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 67.5" x 69.5"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||54.75" x 56.75"|
|Southern Cross format Confederate “Battle Flag,” a.k.a., Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV), with especially pleasant graphics and patina. Made sometime between 1895 and the opening years of the 20th century, the flag is made entirely of cotton. The red cotton bunting is oriented on the bias. In other words, the weave of the fabric, which is fairly distinctive, is run on the diagonal. While an improper method of construction, simply due to the way in which joined fabrics stretch both when sewn and over time, the result is nonetheless graphically compelling and actually adds to a level of interest to the flag's appearance. The white fabric in the device and around the border is also bunting. The stars, which are especially large, are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. The blue fabric is lightweight, denim blue shirting. This chambray fabric has a grainy, western feel to its attractive weave and provides for a beautiful presentation. All of the piecework was done with lineal machine stitching. There is a twill cotton binding along the hoist with 2 brass grommets.
The flag was most certainly produced for the Civil War veteran's market. The United Confederate Veterans (UCV), which formed in 1889, served as the primary post-war organization for Confederate soldiers and there were plenty of flag-makers that supplied reunion materials to UCV posts.
Despite the fact that there were many makers, extremely few pieced-and-sewn, ANV-style battle flags can be found that date to this era. While the size is actually larger than the expected 4 x 4 feet, the design is particularly nice, because it is accurate to a format that most flag enthusiasts would expect. Square in profile and with a white border on all sides, the overall presentation conforms with the most basic traits of most of the Confederate battle flags produced in Richmond and distributed throughout the South. In addition to this fact, the colors, patina, and wear are beautiful to the eye.
Brief History of Confederate Flag Design:
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.
Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.
The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass.
Condition: There is a small, L-shaped tear along the fly end in the red fabric, with associated splitting, and there are various tiny holes and minor splits elsewhere in the red. There is minor to modest foxing and staining in the red and blue fabrics and minor to moderate of the same in the white, the most significant of which is present around the border. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1895|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1910|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|