Introduction


The Confederate Sates of America died a violent death at the hands of invading armies in 1865, and thus "proved" that secession was wrong... that no portion of the American people could elect a path of political self-determination so long as a more powerful section opposed them. The flags which represented the national aspirations of the Southern people were buried in the archives of the conquerors, until President Theodore Roosevelt had them returned to the people whose hopes had once been swaddled in their folds.

The Confederate Battle Flag, the most widely recognized of the battle flags, underwent many transformations in its history both cosmetically and ideologically. Recently there has been a polarization in the public opinion about the flag. Many see it as a symbol of hate and the "Old South" while others see it as a symbol of their southern heritage full of honor and tradition. This is the best known southern flag but was only one of many carried by most regiments of the Confederate Army. The flags of Confederate units in the Eastern Theater often had more uniformity in appearance because the army tended to get more support from the government. The armies in the Western Theater and trans-Mississippi, more remote from the government in distance and attention, had greater diversity in the styles and patterns of battle flags. General Joseph E. Johnston sought to bring uniformity to the Army by having units use their state flags, but only the Virginia regiments were sufficiently supplied to accomplish this. Uniformity of flags among the Western troops was never truly achieved and only approached realization in the last year of the war. To the soldiers, the flags were a rallying point for which they focused their drive. Localism was fierce in the regiments of the South and many distinguished themselves from others by adopting personalized battle flags in addition to the Confederate Battle Flag

My project shows the evolution of the Confederate Battle Flag, provides a graphic demonstration of several unit's flags and gives a brief history of the officers and men belonging to the units. I go into detail about the types of military occupational specialties of the units in order to familiarize you with their jobs. I will also show the evolution of the Confederate Battle Flag from its conception to its final design. My intentions is to set these varied flags against what most people perceive to be the Flag of the Confederacy in order to suggest the variety, local pride and tradition of individual units fighting for the Confederacy to show how each state and regiment was an entity independent of the Confederacy.

This is a semester long project that I am designing for the undergraduate American Studies Program at the University of Virginia. If you wish to comment please do so at jaa2m@virginia.edu.


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