|CONFEDERATE SOUTHERN CROSS “BATTLE FLAG”, OF THE REUNION ERA, MADE ENTIRELY OF SILK, WITH A SILK FRINGE, CIRCA 1895-1920
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 61" x 83"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||51.25" x 73"|
|Among the reunion-era, Southern Cross style, Confederate "battle flags" that I have encountered in the marketplace, this is the only example made entirely of silk. It survives as one of the surprisingly few pieced-and-sewn Confederate battle flags that exist in any format that pre-date the 1940's. The blue cross, white trim, and scarlet red field made of fine, silk taffeta. These have been pieced and joined by machine. The stars are made of same fabric and are double- appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. There is a twisted, gold, silk fringe along the top, bottom, and fly ends.
Because the war generally brought economic ruin for the South for many years to come, one does not encounter much in the way of extravagance in reunion era textiles. Found with a matching, First National pattern flag of similar proportions, this example is an exception to the rule. Rather large in scale for Confederate flags during any period, the lustrous fabric employed in their construction retains strong color. Most likely the pair was produced for parade use by the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) or the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in the period between the mid-1890’s and 1920.
Brief Description of the UCV and UDC:
The United Confederate Veterans (UCV), formed in 1889 and served as the primary post-war organization for Confederate soldiers. The Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which was established in 1884, came first and actually preceded the men, as it was deemed safe for the women to publicly organize.
Wikipedia probably gives the best, most concise description of the U.C.V. that I have encountered:
“Prior to 1889, Confederate veterans had no national organization similar to the Grand Army of the Republic [the primary veteran’s association for the Union Army]. Several separate fraternal and memorial groups existed on a local and regional level. Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1889, several of these groups united and formed the United Confederate Veterans Association. The organization was founded to serve as a benevolent, historical, social, and literary association [and was] active well into 1940’s.
The primary functions of the organization were to provide for widows and orphans of former Confederate soldiers, preserve relics and mementos, care for disabled former soldiers, preserve a record of the service of its members, and organize reunions and fraternal gatherings. At its height, membership in the organization was approximately 160,000 former Confederate soldiers organized into 1,885 local camps. The UCV produced a magazine called Confederate Veteran with articles about events during the war and providing a forum for lost comrades to locate one another.”
Brief History of Confederate Flag Design:
For those unfamiliar with the history of the various designs of Confederate flag, know that the style most commonly recognized—this one—with 13 stars upon St. Andrew's Cross, was not actually one of the three successive national flags of the Confederate States of America. Nor was it 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 a blue canton with a wreath of 7 white stars, and a field of just three horizontal stripes—termed "bars"—in the order of red, white red. Later examples may include up to 13 stars, officially, though other, unofficial examples are known with greater star counts.
The Stars & Bars 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.
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% natural fabrics throughout for support. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, that was washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a black-painted, Italian molding with a mahogany-like wood grain, a satin finish, and very deep profile. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.
Condition: There is some modest to moderate staining in the red quadrants along the hoist end and along the bottom, accompanied by more minor staining elsewhere. The silk ties once present along the hoist end are absent. There is some fabric breakdown in the white trim around the blue cross. An underlay of fabric with similar coloration was added here for masking purposes. 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:||1920|
|War Association:||1861-1865 Civil War|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|