Civil War Flags
Information and Articles About Flags from the Civil War
Civil War flags were a carnival of sizes, shapes, designs and colors. The primary Union Civil War flags were the Unites States flag, known as the Stars and Stripes, and the regimental colors. The latter was a dark blue cloth, usually with gold fringe; stars for each state appeared at the top, above a version of the Great Seal of the United States: an American eagle with a stars-and-stripes shield on his chest and a banner with the motto "E Pluribus Unum" ("Out of many, one") in his mouth. His talons hold arrows of war and an olive branch representing peace. Below is a banner with the regiment or battery’s name.
The Confederate States of America had three different national flags over the course of four years. The most recognizable Confederate flag, however, is not one of the South’s national flags but the Confederate battle flag, also known as the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Additionally, on both sides there were corps, brigade and regimental flags, flags for various branches of military service, etc.
The United States flag: the red, white and blue standard—flying above ranks of blue-clad troops, remained mostly unchanged during the war other than to add a star when the 34th state, Kansas, was admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861. Read more about Union Flags.
The Confederacy had several official flags during it’s lifespan. The first Confederate National flag resembled the U.S. flag and was called "Stars and Bars." The Confederate Battle Flag was created so it would not be mistaken for the Union Flag in battle; it was used primarily by the Army of Northern Virginia. It has become the single most identifiable symbol of the Confederacy. Read more about Confederate Flags.
Unit Flags of the Civil War
Many corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, and even individual companies carried unique flags, many of them designed and sewn by women "back home" who presented the unit with the flag. In a number of cases, the state seal of a regiment would be embroidered or painted onto a flag. A unit that performed well in a battle might get permission to add the name of that battle on its flag, and veteran units might have a half-dozen or more battle names on their banners.
A few examples of unusual flags of the Civil War include:
Army of the Potomac Headquarters flag: a swallow-tailed guidon of purple with a golden eagle sitting on a silver wreath
The Irish Brigade, Union: Among the most famous Civil War flags, it is a field of green with a gold harp at center above shamrocks and below a sun peeking out from a cloud. A banner across the top names the regiment of the brigade and one across the bottom proclaims in Gaelic "Who never retreated from the clash of spears." Each regiment within the brigade carried its own variation on this design.
Company C, South Carolina 18th Artillery Battalion, Confederate: a white flag with a gold or red star at upper left; a green representation of a palmetto palm tree dominates the center
Van Dorn Flag, Confederate: A yellow rectangle around a red field containing 13 scattered stars and a white crescent moon at upper left, it was designed by the Confederate commander Earl Van Dorn
Articles Featuring Civil War Flags From History Net Magazines
When the first inklings emerged early in 1861 that a fighting war pitting North versus South would soon break out, the residents of Washington, D.C.—at least those whose sympathies were with the Union—began to feel more than a little threatened. …
A historic flag captured from the 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg has returned home.
A reenactment unit, whose members include a number of descendants of the original unit's soldiers, led the charge to acquire the flag, …
Don't Forget Camp Morton
In the October 2007 "Ask Civil War Times" section, a reader asked whether there was a Union equivalent to the Confederacy's horrific Andersonville Prison. Your answer did not include Camp Morton, the infamous Union facility …
Nearly two months after the battle of Gettysburg 24-year-old Isaac Dunsten of the 105th Pennsylvania Infantry lay on officers' row at Camp Letterman, the large tent hospital established just east of the town. On July 2, 1863, the second day …
The Colorful 44th New York Regiment
Colonel Joshua Chamberlain's 20th Maine may have won the most fame during the grueling fight for control of Little Round Top, but the largest regimental monument on the battlefield today commemorates a brother regiment …
Storm Over Fort Pulaski
By Peggy Robbins
As a young U.S. Army lieutenant, Robert E. Lee helped to construct Fort Pulaski. As a Confederate general 30 years later, he confidently assured fort defenders it could not be breached. Union gunners …
Suave, gentlemanly Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards picked an unusual vacation spot: the Civil War-torn United States.
By Robert R. Hodges, Jr.
After graduating from Sandhurst, Great Britain's West Point, Arthur James Lyon Fremantle entered the …
Rebel Stand at Drewry's Bluff
By Jon Guttman
While Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac slowly advanced on Richmond in May 1862, the Union Navy made its own play to seize the Confederate capital.
In mid-May …
Ewell Seizes the Day at
By Dean M. Wells
One month after Stonewall Jackson's death at Chancellorsville,
Robert E. Lee turned to Stonewall's trusted lieutenant, Richard Ewell,
to cover his invasion of the North. Was 'Old Bald Head' up …