First Confederate National Flag

First Confederate National Flag

Usage conditions apply
Downloads
Description
Physical Description
Blue cloth with a circle of eight stars, two wide red stripes and one wide white stripe.
General History
The Confederate States of America’s first national flag was known as the “Stars & Bars.” This flag flew from 1861 to 1863. Each of the eight stars represented a Confederate state in March 1861 when the flag was adopted. The similarity of the design of the Confederate flag and the Union “Stars and Stripes” made it difficult to distinguish between the two in the heat of battle, most notably during the First Battle of Bull Run (known to Confederates as First Manassas). This resulted in troops firing on their own men—or “friendly fire”—and in the capture of a number of prisoners of war.
Object Name
flag
Other Terms
flag; Military; CSA, Navy
Physical Description
wool (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 36 in x 57 1/2 in; 91.44 cm x 146.05 cm
overall: 35 1/2 in x 58 in; 90.17 cm x 147.32 cm
ID Number
AF.42724 [dup1]
catalog number
42724
accession number
165001
subject
Flags
Civil War
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
Military
ThinkFinity
Exhibition
Price of Freedom
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Comments

This Flag is one of my favorite flags the reason is most people who don’t understand history think that the confederate battle flag is the confederate flag not the case at all. The 1st National confederate flag saw more service with the confederacy than the more common battle flag we all think about when we think of the confederacy.
I'm curious as to the accuracy of this flag or description. It is stated in the description of this artifact that "Each of the eight stars represented a Confederate state in March 1861 when the flag was adopted". Upon reviewing the timeline of secession, however, I noticed that only 7 states had seceded from the Union by March 1861. After a bit more investigation, I found some primary source pictures taken from Fort Sumter on April 17th, 1861, after the Union had surrendered. On a flag pole, a clearly visible Stars and Bars Confederate flag can be seen with only 7 stars on it. Was a version with 8 stars adopted shortly after when more states began seceding?

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.