CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA
 


 
BATTLE FLAGS OF THE WESTERN ARMIES
 

Notes
 

As in the eastern theater of war, the Confederate armies in the west soon realized the need for a distinctive battle flag that would not be confused with the Stars and Stripes of the Union Army. At first, however, there was no overall direction leading to a common design, so that the various divisions, corps and armies developed their own battle flags. Not until 1863 would General Joseph E. Johnston established a design based closely on the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag as the common battle flag of the western armies of the Confederacy.

Credit: The text and drawings on this page are based on information from Devereaux Cannon's FOTC Flags of the Confederacy website.
 

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THE POLK BATTLE FLAG

 

FIRST ISSUE

 

SECOND ISSUE

The Polk Battle Flag was designed by Major-General Leonidas Polk for use by his "1st Grand Division" (corps) of the Army of the Mississippi. Polk had seen how the use by Confederate troops of the CSA First National Flag (the Stars and Bars) could, because of its similarity to the Stars and Stripes, cause confusion on the battlefield. The first version of the Polk Battle Flag, 45 of which were ordered in January 1862, was 4 feet at the hoist by 7 feet 6 inches on the fly, made of silk and furnished with a white canvas pole sleeve. On the arms of the cross were 13 stars, somewhat haphazardly applied. The second version of the Polk Battle Flag, issued in the summer of 1862, was made of bunting instead of silk and was smaller, measuring 2 feet 4 inches at the hoist by 4 feet 4 inches on the fly. The cross was edged with white and there were only 11 stars. Instead of a pole sleeve, these flags had tape ties. The Polk Battle Flag continued in service through 1863.


THE McCOWN BATTLE FLAG

 

 

VARIANTS

Major-General John P. McCown was appointed to the command of a division of the Confederate Army of the West in March 1862. His troops, organized in two brigades, came from Texas and Arkansas. McCown was of Scottish descent, which probably explains the design of the battle flags of his division: Scotland's Cross of St. Andrew, a white saltite on a blue field. These flags were made up by regimental tailors; thus they varied considerably in materials, dimensions and details. Most were about 3 feet at the hoist and made of bunting. Some were furnished with pole sleeves and some with eyelets. The McCown Battle Flag continued in service with his division until 1863, even though McCown himself had been promoted to a higher command in the summer of 1862.


THE HARDEE BATTLE FLAG

 

6th TEXAS INFANTRY/15th TEXAS CAVALRY

 

18th ALABAMA INFANTRY

Though known to history as the Hardee Battle Flag (after Major-General William J. Hardee), the plain blue flags with white disks that was issued to the Army of Central Kentucky in early 1862 were probably designed by his fellow division commander, Major-General Simon Bolivar Buckner. The basic design was very simple: a blue flag with a centered white circle or oval to which unit designations could be added. There were numerous variants, with and without white tape borders, usually between 2 feet 6 inches and 3 feet at the hoist. Most were made of cotton cloth. The flag of the composite 6th Texas Infantry/15th Texas Cavalry (with the Lone Stare in lieu of a unit designation) is an example of the second (summer 1862) issue of Hardee flags; that of the 18th Alabama is an example of the fourth (1863) issue. The Hardee Battle Flag soldiered on until 1864.


THE CASSIDY BATTLE FLAG

 

FIRST AND SECOND ISSUES

 

 

THIRD ISSUE

Major General G.T. Beauregard was responsible for the introduction of the Cassidy Battle Flag. He came to the western theater in February 1862 as second in command of what would soon become the Army of the Mississippi. One of his ideas was to introduce the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag into service with the western armies, but in this he found himself frustrated by the prior adoption of the battle flags described above. One component of the Army of the Mississippi still needed battle flags, however: Major General Braxton Bragg's corps, coming north from Pensacola and Mobile. Accordingly, Beauregard ordered ANV-style battle flags for Bragg's troops. The flags were produced by Henry Cassidy, a New Orleans sailmaker. The first and second issues, totaling 101 flags in three sizes ( 4 feet square for infantry, 3 feet 6 inches square for artillery, 3 feet square for cavalry) were made of bunting with 12 six-pointed, polished cotton stars, yellow tape binding and a white canvas pole sleeve. Since the tape was only applied to three sides of the flag, and was much wider than the pole sleeve, the effect was to make these flags slightly rectangular. The third issue flags were rectangular, 3 feet 6 inches at the hoist by 6 feet on the fly, and were finished with a wide pink tape binding and a cotton heading furnished with eyelets. Only 31 of these flags were made, and they were issued as replacements for lost or unserviceable flags.


ANV BATTLE FLAG VARIANTS

 

49th ALABAMA INFANTRY

This flag of the 49th Alabama Infantry is a typical example of the ANV Battle Flag variants that were used by units of the Confederate western armies from 1863 to the end of the war. This flag was made of bunting and furnished with a pole sleeve. Dimensions were about 3 feet on the hoist by 4 feet on the fly. Note that like the Cassidy battle flags, it has only twelve stars.

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