In 1861, the American Civil War broke out. This war was fought between the northern and southern states. The northern states, called the Union, wanted to abolish slavery while the southern states, called the Confederacy, supported slavery. President Abraham Lincoln, who was against slavery, was elected to the office in 1861.
The southern states opposed his Presidency and decided to secede from the United States. Many southern states broke away from the Union and formed the Confederacy. They also adopted their own flag which came to be known as the Confederate Flag.
The Confederate States of America came into being in 1861. Initially, the Confederacy comprised of the seven slave states. These included South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana. So the first national flag of the Confederacy comprised of two red bars with one alternating white bar and 7 stars. This remained the official Confederate flag from March, 1861 to May, 1861.
Later, four more stated joined the Confederacy. These included North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas. So he official Confederate flag was modified to reflect 11 and later 13 stars.
The problem with the official Confederate flag was that it looked a lot like the flag of the Union. So when the Union and Confederate armies fought on the battlefield, it often became impossible to tell the two flags apart. This led to a lot of confusion in the early battles.
To resolve this problem, Confederacy approved a separate battle flag for use on the battlefield. The design of this official Battle Flag featured a blue cross with white borders on a red field. On the blue cross were 13 white stars representing the Confederate States.
This battle flag became very popular among Confederate soldiers and all over the southern states. By 1863, people like the battle flag more than the official Confederate flag. So the Confederate government decided to change the official flag.
In 1863, the Confederate Congress adopted a new official flag. The new design made use of the popular Battle Flag of the Confederacy. The Second Official Confederate Flag had a pure white background with the canton filled with the design of the battle flag. This flag was adopted by the Confederate government on May 1, 1863. The Second Official Flag was named the ‘Stainless Banner’.
People in the Confederate states liked the design of the flag but they didn’t like the white background which covered most of the flag. Some thought that it looked a lot like a flag of truce. In fact, Confederate commanders on the battlefield often removed the white portion of the flag so that it may not send a false signal of truce to the opponents.
In 1865, the Confederate government approved a new design for the official flag. This was similar to the second official flag’s design except that it now had a wide red bar on the right side of the flag. This was added to make it look less like a flag of truce.