Confederate Battle Flag Banner

The Southern Cross

In the smoke and dust of battle, the 1st Confederate national flag, the "Stars and Bars," could sometimes not be distinguished from the "Stars and Stripes." To remedy the problem, Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard recommended a design for a distinctive square battle flag to be used in the field. That square flag has become the most enduring symbol of the Southern nation. The design, reportedly similar to a design for the national flag submitted by South Carolinian William Porcher Miles, was accepted by General Joseph E. Johnston, and the quartermaster's department soon began issuing the flag to the forces that would one day be called the Army of Northern Virginia. The infantry received flags that were 4 by 4 feet, the artillery flags were 3 by 3 feet, and the cavalry's 2.5 by 2.5 feet.

The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, but it was adopted by the War Department on October 1, 1862. The western armies never adopted the flag to the extent that eastern forces did. Each western corps tended to have its own design, although some adopted designs similar to the eastern battle flag.

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