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Third National Flag of the Confederacy (U.S.)

Last modified: 2002-09-28 by rick wyatt
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[third national flag] by Rick Wyatt, 20 November 1997

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Because it could be mistaken for a flag of truce, the Stainless Banner was modified to include a red bar on the fly. It was to be 1/4 of the area of the flag beyond the now rectangular canton. The width was to be 2/3 of length. The canton was to be 3/5 of width and 1/3 of length. This was signed into law on March 4, 1865. Few flags of this version were issued and few survived.
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 29 April 1996

Background Information

The flag was published in newspapers in December, 1864 when it was first proposed in the CS Congress. The first example of it that I have tracked down flew over Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond starting in January 1865 - two months before it was officially adopted by law! CS Navy vessels of the Richmond Squadron also flew the Third National before its official adoption. I have little doubt that some government buildings did as well once it was adopted. This was probably due to the pattern having no competition and as such, it was only a matter of time before it was signed into law.

I know of four Third National battle flags that were used by troops in the field - three of which I have seen personally. They are: an unknown one in the Confederate Museum in New Orleans; the flag of the 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion in the Dekalb County History Museum near Atlanta, Georgia; the HQ flag for Gordon's Corps that was surrendered at Appomattox (and is correctly pictured in CW artist Don Troiani's painting "The Last Salute") that is in the Alabama Dept. of Archives and History; and the flag of the Upson County Guards of the Georgia Militia that is in the Chicago Historical Society (if I correctly recall).

I think the Museum of the Confederacy has one or two Third National flags that are definitely wartime issues as well as some post-war versions.

So, while the flag is certainly rarer than either of the other two CS national flags - they were definitely issued during the war.

Greg Biggs, 8 June 1999

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