Last modified: 2002-09-28 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | csa | general lee | robert e. lee | headquarters |
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by Edward Mooney, 6 August 1999
The original of this flag is in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. It is in very good condition.
This flag was supposed to have been made for the General by his wife, Mary Custis Lee. I do not know when he began to use it -- Perhaps some time shortly after taking command of the Army of Northern Virginia (June/July 1862). He used it through the Gettysburg campaign (July 1863) and for some time afterward, until the fall of 1863 or winter of 1864 when it was retired and replaced with a new national flag of the pattern adopted by Congress on 1 May 1863.
This flag was used to mark the General's headquarters at any given time. Obviously the unusual star pattern would readily identify the headquarters as those of General Lee. It is said that Mrs. Lee used that pattern to represent the biblical Ark of the Covenant. I have seen something that she embroidered (a pillow case or perhaps a quilt - I don't remember) which also had some CSA "Stars and Bars" national flags with the stars arranged in this pattern.
When this flag was retired in favor of the new national flag, the General lost that distinctive flag to mark his headquarters. The new flag was one issued by the Richmond Clothing Depot, and looked just like those issued to others in the Army of Northern Virginia for use both as headquarters flags and as regimental colors.
I do not know what flag Lee used to mark his headquarters when he commanded the forces in the Cheat Mountain campaign in western Virginia in 1861, or while he was in command of the Department of South Carolina and Georgia in early 1862. The only such flags I am aware of are those mentioned above. Of course, the Army of Northern Virginia used the battle flag as regimental colors during the entire time he commanded it. On at least one occasion he personally seized a regiment's colors and used it to rally retreating troops.
Edward Mooney and Devereaux Cannon, 6 August 1999