The first national Confederate Flag is known as the “Stars and Bars.” Many people incorrectly refer to the Navy Jack or the Battle Flag as the “Stars and Bars.” This is due in part because of the media using incorrect terms.

Many people assume that the red/white/red was based on of the stripes of the American flag. This is incorrect. These “bars” are actually a horizontal tri-color. The flag was based off of the flag of Austria.

The flag of Austria is the second oldest flag in the world. The first documented use of it is in 1230. Only the Danish flag is older.

The symbolism of the Austrian flag was described in a document written in 1260. It describes a scene that is considered more legend than literal fact. It says that Duke Leopold V was wearing a white coat that was completely drenched in the blood of Muslim Kurds during the Siege of Acre in 1219. When Leopold V removed his belt it supposedly revealed a perfect white bar across an otherwise blood drenched coat.

Confederate Navy Jack / Battle Flag (left) and the First National Flag / “Stars and Bars” (right)

Confederate Navy Jack / Battle Flag (left) and the First National Flag / “Stars and Bars” (right)

The Stars and Bars was designed by Nicola Marschall. He was an ethnic Prussian, born in Germany to tobacco merchants. His family came to America, and in the 1850s he taught art, music, and German at the Marion Female Seminary in Marion, Alabama. He also had an art studio inside the school. During his lifetime he also got numerous famous people to pose for portraits including Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, Otto von Bismarck, and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

He is credited with designing the Stars and Bars, as well as the official military uniform of the Confederacy. He created the Stars and Bars by placing a blue canton with white stars on an Austrian tri-color. He based the Confederate uniform off of Austrian and French uniforms from the early 1800s.

The first act of the Provisional Confederate Congress was to create a committee to design a flag and seal. That committee solicited contributions from the public. The flag designed by Marschall was adopted March 4, 1861 and raised over the Confederate capitol, which at the time was located in Montgomery, Alabama.

The flag remained the national flag of the Confederacy until May 1, 1863. However, the number of stars changed. The first flag adopted had seven stars. On May 21, 1861, two more stars were added for Virginia and Arkansas. On July 2, 1861, two more stars were added for Tennessee and North Carolina.

On November 28, 1861 two more stars were added after the Confederacy claimed Kentucky and Missouri. However, these states never actually voted to secede. The state legislature of Kentucky split, while the state legislature of Missouri was forced into exile by Lincoln.

The Stars and Bars was replaced by the 2nd National Confederate flag, or “Stainless Banner.” That flag was then altered to create the 3rd National Confederate flag or “Bloodstained Banner.”

–Kyle Rogers