A brief history of the Confederate National Flag - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

A brief history of the Confederate National Flag

The third and final Confederate National Flag, known as "The Blood-Stained Banner" The third and final Confederate National Flag, known as "The Blood-Stained Banner"

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The flag flying in front of the South Carolina Statehouse, that a majority of state lawmakers voted to remove on Monday, is not the Confederate National Flag. It is the Confederate Battle Flag.

Below is a brief history on the Confederate National Flag, and why it is not the flag that has become an enduring symbol for Southerners.

The flag flying outside the statehouse, and adorning vehicles, license plates, merchandise, and front yards across the South, is actually the Confederate Battle Flag, also known as the rebel flag, the Dixie flag, and the Southern Cross. This flag was designed by South Carolina’s William Porcher Miles, and began as a way to alleviate confusion on the battlefield, and because the Confederate National Flag was generally disliked by Confederates.

The design of the Battle Flag was actually inspired by the South Carolina Secession Flag, which featured a blue St. George's Cross (an upright cross) on a red field, with 15 white stars across the cross, representing the slaveholding states, and South Carolina's palmetto and crescent symbols in the upper-left, according to John Coski, author of "The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem."

The First National Flag of the Confederacy, the “Stars and Bars,” featured red and white stripes, with seven stars in a circle over a blue square in the upper-right corner. You can probably see where the confusion came from – from a distance, and when hanging limp from a flagpole, the flag looked very similar to the United States’ national flag, hence the battlefield confusion and general disdain for it, according to the 2013 New York Times article, “The Birth of the Stainless Banner.”

As the war continued, the Confederate National Flag was redesigned in 1863 into “The Stainless Banner,” which featured the now-popular Confederate Battle Flag design in the upper-left corner, with a white field taking up the rest of the flag’s design. The designer, William Thompson, wrote that the color symbolized the “supremacy of the white man,” the NY Times article states.

However, this design also had its problems on the battlefield, as military officials said it was “too white.” It could easily be mistaken for the international flag of truce, and it was too easily soiled.

The third and final Confederate National Flag was adopted on March 4, 1865, mere weeks before General Robert E. Lee would surrender the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox.

The “Blood-Stained Banner” again featured the Battle Flag on a field of white, but with a red vertical bar running down the right side of the flag. The designer, Major Arthur Rogers, successfully lobbied for the flag to be adopted, arguing that it had “as little as possible of the Yankee blue.” Although the Flag Act passed, very few of the third national flags were ever actually manufactured, according to a 2000 webpage on the Flags of the Confederacy website.

But that’s just part of the story. For a succinct education on the various flags on the Confederacy, check out this video by YouTube user C.G.P. Grey, who produces entertaining explanatory videos on a wide range of subjects.

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