Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  CONFEDERATE SOUTHERN CROSS “BATTLE FLAG”, A RARE, UNUSUALLY ACCURATE, AND GRAPHICALLY PLEASING OF THE REUNION PERIOD, MADE BY ANNIN IN NEW YORK CITY, CA 1912-1920's

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 52" x 52"
Flag Size (H x L): 42" x 42"
Description....:
Among the reunion-era, Southern Cross style, Confederate "battle flags" that I have encountered in the marketplace, this example, constructed of wool bunting with double-appliquéd cotton stars, is one of the best in terms of accurate historical imagery. 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. Even fewer have a white border to replicate the Third - Seventh Bunting Issues made for The Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) at the Richmond Depot. This version is the most widely enamored today by Civil War enthusiasts. For this reason it is the perfect addition to any collection that calls for an appropriate example of a Confederate, ANV, Southern Cross battle flag. Because war-period examples are cost-prohibitive for most collectors, this is a fine and interesting alternative, surprisingly every bit as rare as its wartime counterparts.

While the construction of the flag is done like that of the mass-produced Stars & Stripes flags of this same period (approximately 1895-1930), with lineal, machine-sewn seams and zigzag, machine-sewn stars, it is rather the accuracy of the design, the golden oxidation present in the white wool, and the somewhat crude, nicely oxidized, brass grommets, on a canvas hoist, that make it appear as if the flag is of an earlier era. The moth damage, dispersed throughout, actually completes the expected appearance. Though wholly unintentional, it serves to replicate the bullet holes and fabric loss of wartime use.

Beyond the commercial, machine-sewing, the only thing gives away the age of the flag, to all but the most skilled observers, is the “Sterling” label near the top of the hoist. This was a brand name of the Annin company and a trademark for one of its highest grades of wool bunting. The flag was produced sometime between 1912 and the 1920's, most likely during the 19-teens.

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.

Brief History of Confederate Flag Design:
For those unfamiliar with the history of the various designs of Confederate flag, know that this particular design, with St. Andrew’s Cross and 13 stars, was not actually one of the three successive national flags of the Confederate States of America. Known also that the Southern Cross "battle flag" is not the flag commonly known as the "Stars & Bars." Despite the fact that it prominently displays both of these features, that was the nickname of the First National Flag of the Confederacy, which initially had three horizontal stripes (in this case called “bars”, in red, white red) and 7 white stars on a blue canton.

The First National Confederate Flag was so similar to the Stars & Stripes that it led to great confusion on battlefields, laden with the smoke of black powder. For this reason, the Second National Confederate design was adopted on May 26th, 1863. Nicknamed the “Stainless Banner,” this was white in color, with the Southern Cross serving as the canton in place of the blue field with stars. Soldiers and officers disliked this design, because it looked too much like a surrender flag, and, if given the opportunity--or so the story goes--would dip the end in blood. 36 days before the war’s end a red vertical bar was added at the fly end to create a third national pattern. Officially this paid homage to French, who lent aid to the South during the war, noting that if one were to take the Third National pattern and add a blue vertical bar at the fly end, replacing the Southern Cross and the white field below it, the result would be the national flag of France.

General Joe Johnston became the first Confederate officer to approve what would become generically known as the "Confederate Battle Flag" in the fall of 1861. The term is misleading, because it was not the battle flag of every unit. It was, however, carried by many units, with much variation, and by some within all Confederate States. Johnson's approval followed the suggestion of General P.G.T. Beauregard, who complained to Confederate government that the First Confederate National Flag, (a.k.a., the Stars & Bars,) looked too much like the Stars & Stripes. Beauregard's request was denied, but after conferring with Johnston and General G.W. Smith, Johnston approved use of the Southern Cross as the Confederate battle flag at the field level. It was Johnston's own orders that led to the manufacture of the first silk examples, in 1861, sewn by ladies in Richmond, for use by the Army of the Potomac, and then to the flags made for General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia battle flags, issued in 1862.

Today many people are unaware that the most publicized flag of the Confederacy was never actually its national flag, though it did become part of the Second and Third National designs, approved in 1863 and 1865, respectively.

Brief Information on the Annin Company:
Annin is our nation's eldest flag-maker that is still in business today. The company was founded in the 1830's, incorporated in 1847, and was located in New York until the 1960’s, when it moved to Verona, New Jersey. While some sources that record makers of military goods lack reference to specific military contracts with Annin, their Wikipedia entry might explain why. The narrative states: "…the U.S. Signal Corps requisitioned all its wartime flags from Annin Flagmakers for the Civil War. An undated newspaper article in Annin's 1860's archives states: "Without going through forms of contract, Annin supplied the government direct." "…As the war progressed, orders came pouring in from every state and city that was loyal to the Union, so that by the beginning of 1864, there was not a single battlefield, a brigade or a division that did not use Annin flags."

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 flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza for support throughout. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black fabric was washed and treated for color-fastness. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (plexiglass).

Condition: There is minor to moderate mothing throughout.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1912
Latest Date of Origin: 1929
State/Affiliation: The Confederacy
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
 

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