One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansawyers were learning of a new flag being flown in the eastern theater of the War. In 1861, several states used their own state flag in battle to represent their respective regiments; Virginia was perhaps the most noted. Arkansas did not have a state flag until the twentieth century.
Through the opening year of the War Between the States, the flag that had been most familiar to Arkansas was the Confederate First National flag. Most Arkansas regiments employed this flag astheir official regimental colors, as noted in a multitude of flag presentation reports found in 1861 Arkansas newspapers. There was one major problem with the Confederacy’s flag- it too closely resembled the flag of the opposing side; it consisted of a blue field of white stars and alternating red and white stripes.
This week one hundred and fifty years ago, a solution was found among the Confederates in the Eastern theater- they created a new flag. This new flag is without a doubt the most recgonizable flag of the American Civil War and the most associated with the Southern armies. Following is an account found in an Arkansas newspaper: “We see in several exchanges allusions to the war flag of the Southern Confederacy, which is now waving over the camps on the Potomac, but no description of it. The reason for its use is that the “stars and bars” so nearly resemble the “stars and stripes,” that it is difficult to distinguish them. We gather from an incidental allusion to it in the correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch that the emblem is the Southern cross. We suppose it is a number of white stars arranged in the form of a cross, on a solid ground.”
An evolution of the Confederate flag thus begins.