"The First National C. S. A. "
- The Stars and Bars


For twenty five days the Confederate States of America had no officially approved flag. The first official flag of the confederacy was the Stars and Bars, and was reported to the provisional congress of the C.S.A. by the flag committee on March 4,1861. In their haste to have a flag prepared for the flag raising ceremony, Congress neglected to formally enact a flag law; it appears to have not had a recorded vote, but was written into the journal of the congress.

When this flag was first raised over the capitol building in Montgomery, it contained seven stars, representing the Confederate States. By the third week of May two more stars were added representing Virginia and Arkansas. In July the addition of North Carolina and Tennessee increased the number to eleven and finally the admission of Kentucky and Missouri in December brought the circle of stars to thirteen.

The "Stars and Bars" is believed have been designed by Nicola Marschall, a Prussian Artist and to have been inspired by the Austrian flag. It appears in many variations with stars ranging from 7 to 15 stars. The seven stars represent the original Confederate States; South Carolina (December 20, 1860), Mississippi(January 9, 1861),Florida (January 10,1861),Alabama (January 11, 1861),Georgia (January 19, 1861),Louisiana (January 26, 1861),and Texas (February 1, 1861). There were 11 states that seceeded from the Union, 2 (Kentucky and Missiouri that had confederate and union governments), 1 (Maryland) that attempted to seceed but whose legislature was disbanded by federal officals and was unable to join the confederacy, even though it furnished more troops to the cause then at least one member of that country and 1 slave state (Delaware) that remained loyal to the union.

The reason for the variations in number of stars in the Stars and Bars was due to lack of centralized purchasing. The original ones had 7 stars and more were added as additional states joined and the flag makers became aware of the number of states.

In Oct. 1861, a rump legislative body in Missouri dissolved the bond to the union and joined the confederacy. Kentucky was recognized as neutral at first but later was represented in the Confederate congress, bringing the stars to 13. However many flagmakers only recognized those states that were able to maintain state governments within their own territory, so that 41% of the over 300 surviving STARS AND BARS have only 11 stars. Missouri and Kentucky were overrun by the union and maintained representation in the federal government.

One interesting variation is the 12 star version, used by Nathan Bedford Forest, who swore not to include the star for Georgia, "as long as a yankee remains on Georgia's soil."

Of the survivors those having eight stars, 9%; nine stars, 5%; ten stars, 4%; twelve stars, 9%; fourteen stars, 0.6%; and 15 stars, 5%. The fourteenth star was for Maryland, whose governor was under house arrest and whose legislature was disbanded until the jailed members were replaced in a election where all voters had to take an oath of alliengance to the federal government. The 15th star was for Delaware, the other slave state. Unlike Maryland, who raised a number of regiments in exile from citizens who escaped across the river into Virginia and actually had more troops in the field for the confederacy then Florida, Delaware, the first state in the union, remained loyal to the federals.

One interesting version of the Stars and Bars is the 18 star version used by Gen. Stand Watie, the last confederate general to surrender his command, the Cherokee Brigade. It had 13 white stars in a circle and 5 red ones for the "five civilized nations", the five indian tribes that joined the confederacy.

The Civil War in South Carolina © - 1998 Eastern Digital Resources

The Civil War in South Carolina