Confederate States of America flag 10 x 15 cm
Battle flag of the US Confederacy
The Confederate States of America (also called the Confederacy, the Confederate States, and CSA) formed as the government set up from 1861 to 1865 by eleven southern states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S. The CSA's de facto control over its claimed territory varied during the course of the American Civil War, depending on the success of its military in battle.
Asserting a right of state secession, seven states declared their independence from the United States before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President on March 4, 1861; four more did so after the Civil War began at the Battle of Fort Sumter (April 1861). The United States of America ("The Union") held secession illegal and refused recognition of the Confederacy. Although British and French commercial interests sold the Confederacy warships and materials, no European nation officially recognized the CSA as an independent country.
The CSA effectively collapsed when Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston surrendered their armies in April 1865. Union troops captured the Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Irwinville, Georgia on May 10, 1865. Nearly all remaining Confederate forces surrendered by the end of June. A decade-long process known as Reconstruction temporarily gave civil rights and the right to vote to the freedmen, expelled ex-Confederate leaders from office, and re-admitted the states to representation in Congress.
There were several flags of the Confederate States of America used during its existence from 1861 to 1865. Since the end of the American Civil War, personal and official use of Confederate flags, and of flags derived from these, has continued under some controversy.
The state flags of Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee are all based on Confederate flags. The flag of North Carolina is based on the state's 1861 flag which dates back to the Confederacy and appears to be based on the first Confederate flag. The flag of Alabama and perhaps the flag of Florida also seem to be of Confederate inspiration, although this is disputed.
Often referred to as "The" battle flag of the Confederacy it was the design that was the basis of more than 180 separate Confederate military battle flags.
The Army of Northern Virginia battle flag was usually square, of various sizes for the different branches of the service: 48 inches square for the infantry, 36 inches for the artillery, and 30 inches for the cavalry. It was used in battle beginning in December 1861 until the fall of the Confederacy. The blue color on the saltire in the battle flag was navy blue, as opposed to the much lighter blue of the Naval Jack.
What is now often called "The Confederate Flag" or "The Confederate Battle Flag" (actually a combination of the battle flag's colors with the Second Navy Jack's design), despite its never having historically represented the CSA as a nation, has become a widely recognized symbol of the South. It is also called the "rebel" or "Dixie" flag, and is often incorrectly referred to as the "Stars and Bars" (the actual "Stars and Bars" is the First National Flag, which used an entirely different design).
During the first half of the 20th century the Confederate flag enjoyed renewed popularity. During World War II some U.S. military units with Southern nicknames, or made up largely of Southerners, made the flag their unofficial emblem. Some soldiers carried Confederate flags into battle. After the Battle of Okinawa a Confederate flag was raised over Shuri Castle by a soldier from the self-styled "Rebel Company" (Company A of the 5th Marine Regiment). It was visible for miles and was taken down after three days on the orders of General Simon B. Buckner, Jr. (son of Confederate General Simon Buckner), who stated that it was inappropriate as "Americans from all over are involved in this battle". It was replaced with the flag of the United States.
The use of the flag by soldiers came under investigation after some African-American soldiers filed complaints. By the end of World War II, the use of the Confederate flag in the military was rare. However, the Confederate flag continues to be flown in an unofficial manner by many soldiers. It was seen many times in Korea, Vietnam, and in the Middle East.