AMERICAN NAVAL FLAGS
 


 

CIVIL WAR  •  1861-65
 

Notes
 

At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, the US flag had 33 stars. A 34th star was added for Kansas less than three months after the bombardment of fort Sumter, a 35th star was added for West Virginia in 1863, and a 36th for Nevada in 1865, only a month and a half before President Andrew Johnson declared a formal end to the war. Thus the US Navy flew four different ensigns and jacks between 1861 and 1865. In contrast to the US Army, whose flags displayed many variations and creative touches, those of the Navy were of standard patterns, with the stars in horizontal rows. The naval jack—called the Union Jack—was simply the canton or "union" of the ensign. The commission pennant was very similar to the one used today.

The Confederate States of America followed the US example, using its national flag as the ensign of the CS Navy, the canton from the ensign as the naval jack, and a commission pennant based on the design of the ensign. The first (unofficial) national flag of the Confederacy, nicknamed the Stars and Bars, was thus the CS Navy's first ensign. Early examples had seven stars in the canton, while later examples had from eight to thirteen stars, with eleven stars being most common. In 1863, the CSA's second (first official) national flag—nicknamed the Stainless Banner—was made the naval ensign, with a rectangular version of its canton as the jack. Regulations specified 2:3 proportions for the ensign and jack, but there were numerous variations.

For information about USN rank flags of the Civil War era, see US Navy Broad Pennants and Rank Flags, 1800-1940. CS Navy flag officers mostly flew a plain blue rank flag, but there seems to have been no authorized broad pennant for commodores.

Credit: My illustrations of CS Navy flags and pennants are based on information from the late Devereaux Cannon's Flags of the Confederacy site.
 

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UNITED STATES NAVY
NATIONAL ENSIGN & UNION JACK

 

 

33 Stars  •  1859-61

 

 

34 Stars  •  1861-63

 

 

35 Stars  •  1863-65

 

 


 

36 Stars  •  1865-67
 

COMMISSION PENNANT

 

CONFEDERATE STATES NAVY
NATIONAL ENSIGN & JACK

 

 

1861
 

 

1861-63
 

COMMISSION PENNANT  •  1861-63

 

 

1863-65
 

COMMISSION PENNANT  •  1863-65

 

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