First National Confederate 7 Stars and Bars Flag

In early 1861, the First National Confederate 7 Stars and Bars Flag to replace its old battle flag. The result was the first of three national flags adopted by the Confederacy (there would be two others). Nicknamed the “Stars and Bars,” this design, with a blue canton containing white stars, served as the official flag of the Confederate States from March 4, 1861 to May 1, 1863. Most surviving examples of this flag contain seven stars to represent the original seven states to secede.

Hundreds of proposals were submitted, including many that paid homage to the Union flag in honor of the South’s fondness for the Stars and Stripes, as well as the desire to prove that the South was indeed a sovereign nation. But William Porcher Miles was not impressed, believing that the Southern flag should be different from the Union’s and showing that the South had a separate identity as an independent nation.

Unveiling History: The First National Confederate 7 Stars and Bars Flag

Miles came up with a design that used a blue saltier (a diagonal cross, often called a St. Andrew’s cross) on a field of red, containing 13 white stars representing the states that had secessionist factions within their borders. The Congress inspected the design on March 4 and passed it as the official national flag of the Confederate States of America.

Though this was the only national flag of the Confederate States, individual unit flags were created with a variety of numbers and patterns of stars in the canton, beyond the officially sanctioned circle. These units’ variations became known as the Battle Flag, and it is this version of the flag that most people associate with the Confederate States. The battle flag is the best-known symbol of the Confederacy, and is arguably the most recognized American flag apart from Old Glory. Today, it is flown by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and has become a symbol of white supremacy and racism worldwide.