Slight misinformation on the Confederate battle flag.

Although much of the information presented on the various Confederate flags was correct, there was one glaring problem: The Confederate Battle Flag was NOT referred to as the stars and bars. The first national flag, the one which looked too much like a union banner, was called the stars and bars. Although some people refer to the battle flag and naval jack as the southern cross, the battle flag was in essence unnamed.

Also, please note that the flag most commonly represented as a battle flag was most prominent in the Army of Northern Virginia, although there were some in the Army of Tennessee and the Army of the Trans-Mississippi. Many versions of the battle flag contain only 12 stars, having no star in the center.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, Benwa, glad to have you with us.

It’s helpful to provide a link to the relevant column or staff report when commenting – helps others to know what the heck you’re talking about. Here’s the link, I think: Straight Dope Staff Report: Was the “Confederate flag” only the flag of the Confederate navy?

Thank you,

As I am new to this forum, I appreciate your help.

Benwa: Would you also be so kind as to provide some cites to support your thesis?

Which part of his post did you want a cite for, Monty?

The Confederate Battle Flag was not referred to as the “Stars and Bars”. The first Confederate national flag was called the “Stars and Bars”. It caused problems on the battlefield as it obviously bears a close resemblance to the U.S. flag. It was replaced by the second C.S. flag, the so-called “Stainless Banner”, which incorporates the familiar “Southern Cross” in the canton (which had been adopted as a battle flag by Confederate forces). That one looked a bit too much like a white flag of surrender, so they adopted the Third National flag, which added a red stripe at the end, but by the time the war was almost over.

This article on the history of the Confederate Battle Flag confirms a square version of the CBF was originally flown by the Army of Northern Virginia, and that the Confederate army had a number of different battle flags.

Finally, here are the naval flags of the Confederacy; note the most familiar Confederate flag, the rectangular St. Andrew’s cross pattern, was used as a naval jack (although some versions of the army battle flags also were rectangular).

He’s right – the “Stars and Bars” was the first Confederate national flag.

However, about a gajillion people in modern times have incorrectly used “Stars and Bars” to refer to the battle flag. For all practical purposes, the phrase should never be used, as historians will understand it correctly, but everyone else will get it wrong.

ahem I would like to point out that the X-shaped ordinary in heraldry and vexillology that has been referred to above as a ‘cross’ (in the phrases ‘Southern Cross’ and ‘St. Andrew’s Cross’) is generically known as a Saltire.

As you might imagine, I’ve waited years for the chance to put my username into a thread that needed it. :smiley:

To which, before anyone asks, I will add that, in heraldry, “ordinary” means one of the standard geometric designs (as opposed to animals, birds, human figures, swords, spears, etc.).

<< the X-shaped ordinary in heraldry and vexillology >>

I find vexillology vexing.

All I can say is that the original poster certainly has balls.

That was my fraternity nickname. I guess it stuck with me. There’s actually a funny story, but I won’t share it.