Monday, June 22, 2015

About the "Confederate Flag"

The "Confederate flag" means a lot of things to a lot of people.  So some it is a symbol of nobility, a struggle against an oppressive regime.  To others it is a sign of absolutely despicable acts of racism.  I won't get into the merits of either side except to note the people on both sides are incredibly passionate about it.  I will also say that I have seen black men sporting stars and bars paraphernalia, which at the time I found odd, and many will find odd to this day.  The original flag, dubbed the "Stars and Bars" looks nothing like the "Confederate flag" we know today

So let's start off with a simple what IS the Stars and Bars?  Well first you really need to understand the early days of the Confederate States of America it was all largely done out of a hat (sometimes quite literally).  No one had actually panned for the cessation, or setting up a formal government after they had left the Union.  In their haste to exit most of the Confederacy hadn't even agreed on what the new government should look like let alone what their flag should look like.  As the war began almost immediately after cessation the armies in the field were hopelessly confusing.  In Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's brigade there were many troops that showed up in blue uniforms of their state militias, there were cadets from VMI in their grey cadet uniforms, and even a unit that showed up in Revolutionary War apparel.  This is to say nothing of the flags.  There were dozens, and no sense to it at all.

Indeed, during the first battle of Bull Run (or Manassas depending on which side you were on) there was so much confusion between the Confederate troops carrying the Stars and Bars, and the Union troops carrying the Stars and Stripes that at one point Jackson tried to rally troops that weren't his.  It seems extraordinary, but the confusion was so great that it was nearly a disaster for both sides.  After the battle General Beauregard demanded that something be done.  Even though the Confederate congress rejected a "battle flag" specifically for the troops Beauregard went around them and used the war department to designate a "peace" or "parade" flag, and a flag for battle.  What came out was a square flag (not rectangular as is commonly depicted) of a blue X with thirteen stars in a red background.  It was distinct enough that it helped cut down the confusion, and for the remainder of the war the Army of Northern Virginia (the main Confederate army in the eastern theater) used it.

The "official" confederate flag remained however.  At least until 1863.  At that point a new flag was adopted owing to the sentiment that the flag was too like the Union flag.  What followed were a series of two flags, both rather goofy looking and neither really popular.  The first was simply the confederate battle flag on a white background.  The second was a vertical red stripe at the end of the flag.  As the political history of the Confederacy is not often studied (or is massively dwarfed by the military history) the history of the Confederate flag is lost, and many assume that the battle flag was the Confederate flag.

I believe that it is an important part of our past, and should not be consigned to the dust bin.  I thing the confederate battle flag should fly.  With a caveat.  It should fly over reenactments.  I think there is a middle ground, where we can honor the courage and sacrifice of Americans, regardless of side, and also at the same time recognize the wrong done.  Unfortunately, at the time, passions are too high for this to happen.  One can only hope that the blood pressure subside enough that we can take a more realistic look at our history.  Accept both the good and the bad, and learn from both.  Like it or not the Confederate States of America is a large part of American history, and without the CSA, the USA would not be the country it is today.

3 comments:

Warlock Sundance said...

The final sentence says it all....well said sir.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

Well said. I borrowed, and attributed, your concluding paragraph.

Jade Max said...

I'm been following your blog for some time now [I have a lot of respect for the fighting men and women of the USA, Medics in particular] and felt I had to comment on this one.

I was looking for words to describe how I felt about the Flag after these last few days and the news coming out of the southern USA [I'm Canadian] and your opinion here really rung true for me. Your opinion on the flag and how it should be treated, along with the brief history lesson with it, was really well thought out and very logical and yet, respectful.

It always amazes me the point of view that you have on so many topics; thank you for sharing.