Historic Flags of the Texas State Library and Archives
Historic Flags of the Texas State Library and Archives
Silk, 53.5 x 61 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4032: Matamoros Battalion flag
This flag is a Mexican tricolor with the words “Batallon Matamoros Permanente” inscribed. Permanente signifies standing or regular army. The unit that became the Matamoros Battalion was formed in 1823 as part of the Republic of Mexico's national army. It was named for Friar Mariano Matamoros, a Roman Catholic priest who became a military commander in the Mexican independence movement and was captured and executed by the Spanish.
The Matamoros Battalion was comprised of 350 of Mexico’s most elite troops. During the storming of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, the men scaled the south wall of the fort after a ferocious struggle and led the room-to-room fighting in which most of the Alamo defenders were killed. Despite its own heavy casualties, the battalion was selected as part of Santa Anna’s core group that set out in pursuit of Sam Houston’s retreating army. At San Jacinto, the Matamoros Battalion was assigned to defend the center of Santa Anna’s camp. In the fighting on April 21, 1836, the entire battalion was annihilated.
The flag was displayed in 1846 during the ceremony marking the annexation of Texas to the United States. It remained in the custody of the Texas Adjutant General’s office, and was displayed for some years at the headquarters of the Frontier Battalion, the famed force of Texas Rangers that fought outlaws and Indians on the frontier from 1874-1900. Around 1900, the flag was transferred to the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Silk, 52 x 55.5 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4033: Guerrero Battalion flagThis flag is a Mexican tricolor with the words “Pe. Batallon Guerrero” inscribed. The abbreviation “Pe.” stands for Permanente, which signifies standing or regular army. The unit that became the Guerrero Battalion was formed in 1823 as part of the Republic of Mexico's national army. In 1833, it was named for Vicente Guerrero, a leader in the Mexican independence movement.
In 1836, the Guerrero Battalion was part of the Second Infantry Brigade, which was sent to reinforce Santa Anna's army that invaded Texas. They were not part of the Battle of the Alamo. On April 21, 1836, the three hundred men of the battalion arrived at Santa Anna’s camp along the San Jacinto River. Exhausted from the march, the men were taking a well-earned rest when, at about 4:30 in the afternoon, bugles sounded the alarm that Houston’s army had turned the tables and was attacking in full force.
The fighting lasted only 18 minutes. Most of the men of the battalion were taken prisoner and their flag captured. It is said to have been drenched in blood. The flag was displayed in 1846 during the ceremony marking the annexation of Texas to the United States. It remained in the custody of the Texas Adjutant General’s office, and was displayed for some years at the headquarters of the Frontier Battalion, the famed force of Texas Rangers that fought outlaws and Indians on the frontier from 1874-1900. By the 1920s the flag had been transferred to the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Silk, 55 x 67 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4034: Toluca Battalion flag
This flag is a Mexican tricolor inscribed with the words, “Battalon Activo de Toluca.” (During an conservation treatment in the early 20th century, the words were reconstructed and “Activo” was misspelled as “Activa.”) The battalion was considered one of Mexico’s most elite units. During the attack on the Alamo on March 6, 1836, the Toluca Activo assaulted the heavily fortified north wall, suffering casualties of over 30%, the highest of any Mexican unit in the operation. In spite of losing most of its officers, the unit was selected as part of the force Santa Anna formed to pursue Sam Houston’s retreating army. At San Jacinto, the Toluca Activo was assigned to guard against attack from the woods to the right of Santa Anna’s camp. The exhausted troops were no match when the Texans attacked on April 21, 1836, and the entire battalion was annihilated.
The flag was very badly damaged in the fighting at the Alamo and San Jacinto. Its remnants were displayed in 1846 during the ceremony marking the annexation of Texas to the United States. It remained in the custody of the Texas Adjutant General’s office, and was displayed for some years at the headquarters of the Frontier Battalion, the famed force of Texas Rangers that fought outlaws and Indians on the frontier from 1874-1900. By 1904, the flag had been transferred to the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
TSLAC 02872: Austin National Flag
Though no drawings exist, contemporary accounts of revolutionary Texas indicate that the Texans used a modified version of the American flag as their standard, with thirteen stripes of red and blue along with a single Lone Star in the blue canton. In November 1835, Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” was selected as part of a delegation to go to the United States to seek weapons, loans, and volunteers to help the Texans fight against Mexican rule. Austin suggested this flag design, which modified the simple design in use to incorporate additional symbolism, including an English Union Jack in the canton and Mexican tri-colors.
The writing across the bottom reads, “Idea for an independent flag- The shape of the english Jack in the corner indicates the origin of the North American people. The stripes indicate the immediate descent of the most of the Texians. The star is Texas-the tri colour is Mexican.”
TSLAC 02873: Commission National Flags
In the spring of 1836, the Texas commissioners to the United States – Stephen F. Austin, William H. Wharton, and Branch T. Archer – revised Austin’s already-complicated design. They proposed to include a profile of George Washington surrounded by “rays of liberty” and the quotation, “Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” Apparently, neither the Austin flag nor the Commission flag was ever seriously considered for adoption and no examples were actually created.
The mottos in the center read, “Where Liberty dwells there is my country,” and “WASHINGTON-In his example there is safety.”
The writing across the bottom reads: In place of the star, put the sun with the head of Washington in the center, and rays, representing the light of liberty, radiating all round-outside of this and above, put the motto “Where Liberty dwells there is my country”---change the stripes from green to blue & have exactly thirteen of them [text scribbled over]-the stripes will then be blue and white-change the ground of the Jack in the corner from white to yellow, or leave it white
TSLAC 1974/066-001: Lone Star Flag
The Lone Star flag of Texas has been called “one of the best known symbols in the world.” Historians believe that early in the life of the Texas republic, Texans used a modified American flag, with 13 stripes and a single Lone Star in the blue canton. In late 1838, the Texas Senate commissioned a new flag that would better symbolize the independence of the Republic of Texas. This brilliant design was produced by Austin artist Peter Krag for a fee of $10 (about $200 in current dollars).
The design was approved on January 25, 1839, and signed on the top by Mirabeau Lamar, President of the Republic of Texas; John M. Hansford, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives; and David Burnet, President of the Texas Senate.
TSLAC 2-23/860: Lone Star Flag
Though the Krag flag is accepted by most historians as the first draft of the Lone Star Flag, another early rendition of the flag exists in the papers of Charles Bellinger Stewart (1806-1885). Stewart, a Brazoria pharmacist, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Some of Stewart's descendants believe he served on the senate committee to design a national flag during the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas, though his name does not appear on the final committee report and there is no record of him being a member of that Congress.
This drawing, which bears the signature of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar, was donated to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by Stewart's descendants in 1966. Several factors make authentication of this document difficult. These include the watercolors, which date from a time period after Stewart's death, and lamination that was added in the 1960s to conserve the document. Owing to the similar upside-down placement of the Lamar signature, some experts believe the drawing is authentic to the time period but a tracing of Krag's original.
Stewart went on to render further service to Texas. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1845, which drafted Texas's first state constitution, and represented Montgomery County in several early state legislatures. (Finding aid for the papers of Charles Bellinger Stewart on Texas State Library - University of Texas TARO site)
TSLAC 1991/9-3: Maritime Auxiliary Flags
During the Republic of Texas era, Texans already believed that their country would become a great commercial power. Although the fledgling republic could not afford to build docks or harbors, the Texas Congress did commission this set of maritime flags in 1839. The designer was Peter Krag, who also designed the Lone Star Flag. Left to right: Revenue Service Flag, Pilot’s Flag, and Coastal Trade Flag. It is not known if any of these flags were actually created.
Wool and cotton, 116.5 X 165 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4064: U.S. National 28-Star Flag
This United States flag reflects the annexation of Texas as the 28th state in the Union. The version of the flag is exceedingly rare, and served as the national flag of the United States only from July 4, 1846 to July 4, 1847, when a 29th star was added to reflect the admission of Iowa as a state. The large size of this flag (approximately 13 x 9 feet) has led to speculation that it flew over a major public building, but no evidence exists to document the flag’s use.
Wool and cotton, 30 X 38 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4035: Granbury's Texas Brigade - 6th Infantry and 15th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), Consolidated
This is a Hardee pattern battle flag, blue with white oval, within which is a Texas star. This type of flag is named after William Hardee, a commander in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. In the spring of 1864, most units of the Army of Tennessee adopted the well-known Confederate battle flag, but units serving under General Pat Cleburne were allowed to retain the older flag as a mark of respect.
Two of these units were the 6th Texas Infantry, organized near Victoria in 1861, and the 15th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), organized near McKinney in early 1862. The two units were deployed to Arkansas in summer 1862. On January 11, 1863, they were taken prisoner at Arkansas Post and held for three months in prison camps in Illinois. After being exchanged, the 6th and 15th were consolidated along with six other units as Granbury’s Texas Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Hiram Granbury, a Waco attorney.
As part of Cleburne’s division, Granbury’s Brigade won notice for its role in saving the Confederate army during its retreat from Chattanooga. The units were part of numerous actions in the Atlanta campaign. In the fall of 1864, they replaced a tattered flag (since lost) with this one, which was carried into the bloody carnage of battles of Franklin and Nashville and to the final surrender at Greensboro, North Carolina in May 1865. Several Texans died carrying this flag, and there are stains on the flag which may be blood. Captain Mark Kelton of the 6th Texas concealed the flag under his clothes rather than turn it over to Federal troops at the surrender ceremony. He took the flag home and, in 1885, donated it to the state of Texas.
Cotton, 31 X 37.5 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4038: Granbury's Texas Brigade - 17th and 18th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), Consolidated
This is the finest Hardee pattern battle flag still in existence (see TSLAC 306-4035 for another example). Like the 6th Infantry and 15th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), the 17th and 18th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) were allowed to retain this flag even after the adoption of the well-known Confederate battle flag, as a mark of respect. The units were organized in East Texas in early 1862 and deployed to Arkansas in summer 1862. On January 11, 1863, they were taken prisoner at Arkansas Post and held for three months in prison camps in Illinois. After being exchanged, the 17th and 18th were consolidated along with two other units as Smith’s Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Preston Smith, and placed in Cleburne’s division.
They fought with distinction at Chickamauga and suffered over 200 casualties. Following Smith’s death in battle, the units became part of the command of Hiram Granbury and shared the credit for saving the Army of Tennessee from destruction at Chattanooga. In November of 1863, the 17th and 18th Texas received this flannel Hardee flag inscribed with the battle honors of the previous campaigns: “Arkansas Post,” “Chickamauga,” “Tunnel Hill,” and “Ringgold Gap.” On July 22, 1864 at the Battle of Atlanta, the 17th and 18th Texas were cut off by Federal troops of the 15th Michigan Regiment under the command of General William T. Clark. A large number of men were taken prisoner, and the flag was captured. In 1914, the flag was returned to the state of Texas by the widow of General Clark.
Cotton and silk, 57 X 72 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4040: Gould's Battalion - 6th Texas Cavalry Battalion (dismounted)
This homespun cotton flag is an unusual variation of the Confederate national flag, often called the “Stars and Bars” (not to be confused with the Confederate battle flag, which bears the image of a St. Andrew’s Cross). Instead of the eleven smaller stars in the canton, this flag features the Lone Star of Texas, along with a shield in the white stripe reading “TEXAS.” It was pieced together and appliquéd by the women of Crockett, Texas, and provides a fine example of the creativity of the women who designed the flags of many units. The vast majority of homemade Texas flags incorporate the Lone Star.
The 6th Texas Cavalry Battalion was organized in May 1862 in Houston County. It was called “Gould’s Battalion” for its organizer, Major Robert S. Gould of Leon County. For most of the war, the battalion served in Walker’s Texas Division under the command of John George Walker. This was the only Confederate division comprised of troops from a single state, and was known for its endurance and speed in making forced marches to defend various points in the Trans-Mississippi. Gould’s Battalion saw hard fighting at the Battles of Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Jenkins' Ferry, and numerous small battles and skirmishes along the rivers in Arkansas and Louisiana. Devastated by disease, not more than 100 of the battalion’s original 525 members were still living at the end of the war.
Silk, 55.5 X 56 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4037: First Texas Infantry Regiment Flag
This is a Lone Star flag inscribed with the battle honors “Seven Pines/Gaines Farm” in the blue canton. In the field, the remnants of the honors “Elthams Landing” and “Malvern Hill” can be seen. This flag is supposed to have been made by the wife and daughter of the regiment's first colonel, Louis T. Wigfall, and was presented to the 1st Texas Regiment when it was organized in the summer of 1861. The white material used for the star is dress material, and the flag has long been nicknamed “Mrs. Wigfall’s Wedding Dress.”
The regiment was created in Richmond, Virginia from 12 companies of troops who had already traveled east to join the conflict. Together with the 4th and 5th Texas Regiments, it became part of Hood’s Texas Brigade, named for its commander, General John Bell Hood. In the summer of 1862, Hood’s Brigade played a critical role in defending Richmond from the advance of George B. McClellan and his Army of the Potomac in a series of engagements known as the Peninsula Campaign or the Seven Days Battle. At Gaines Mill, a major engagement of the campaign, the Confederate troops broke McClellan’s lines and played a critical role in his decision to retreat. When the color bearer for the 1st Texas reached Federal lines, he hurled this flag over the barricades of an artillery battery, then crawled forward to reach the summit. Retrieving the flag, he waved it from the high ground to inspire the other men. The battle honors on this flag refer to four battles of the Peninsula Campaign and were added in the summer of 1862.
On September 17, 1862, the 1st Texas Regiment took part in the Battle of Antietam, which still stands as the bloodiest day in American history. The Confederate Army was retreating when the 1st Texas was ordered to counterattack in a place known simply as “the cornfield.” In the course of two hours, the regiment would lose 186 of its 226 men. This 82.3 percent casualty rate was the highest endured during the war by any unit, North or South. Nine Texas standard bearers were killed carrying this flag before it was captured by a Federal soldier, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his deed. The flag was returned to the state of Texas in 1905. Until the 1920s, it hung in the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives.
Cotton, 40.5 X 41 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4036: First Texas Infantry Regiment Flag
The 1st Texas Regiment carried this factory-made battle flag in addition to their unique Lone Star flag (TSLAC 306-4037). The St. Andrew’s cross design was one of many battle flag designs. Years after the war, it was adopted as a Confederate symbol, giving it symbolic meaning to 21st-century Americans that it did not have at the time. The stars represent the number of states in the Confederacy. The X-shaped St. Andrew’s Cross, rather than the more traditional upright St. George’s Cross, was chosen at the request of Jewish citizens, who asked that a symbol of a particular religion not be made the emblem of the Confederacy.
This flag is a rare version called the “First Bunting Issue” by flag scholars; that is, flags produced from a stock of wool bunting captured from the Federal navy and issued to only two or three brigades in the Army of Northern Virginia in the spring and summer of 1862. This flag was carried into battle at Antietam on September 17, 1862, and was captured along with the Lone Star flag. Both flags were returned to Texas in 1905.
Wool, 67 X 67 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4041: First Texas Infantry Regiment Flag
This oversized Confederate battle flag with the St. Andrew’s cross design is another rare variant. Except for its size, it conforms to the “Fourth Bunting Issue” of the flag with 13 stars. The center star on this flag is missing.
After being virtually destroyed in the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, the 1st Texas Regiment was reformed. At the Battle of Gettysburg, the regiment suffered 20% casualties on the second day during the engagement known as Devil’s Den. By the end of the war, the regiment had seen action in all of the major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia with the exception of Chancellorsville. At war’s end, there were only 133 men and 16 officers surviving. This flag was captured by a New York cavalry officer near Appomattox just one day before Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. It was returned to the state of Texas in 1905.
Silk, 55 X 78 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4042: Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment Flag
This flag was created for the 5th Texas Infantry Regiment in Richmond, Virginia, shortly after the unit was activated from 10 companies of men who had traveled east to join the conflict. It is based upon the design of the Confederate national flag (known as the Stars and Bars), but modified to feature the Lone Star of Texas.
The 5th Texas Infantry Regiment became part of Hood’s Texas Brigade, named for its commander, General John Bell Hood. In the summer of 1862, Hood’s Brigade played a critical role in defending Richmond in a series of engagements known as the Peninsula Campaign or the Seven Days Battle. This flag was badly damaged during the campaign, and was put into storage in Richmond at a warehouse known as the “Texas Depot.” However, the regiment had become deeply attached to the flag, and when permission was refused to bring it out of storage, several officers simply swiped it.
Hard fighting at Second Manassas (Bull Run) in August 1862 earned the regiment the nickname “Bloody Fifth,” and several color-bearers were killed carrying this flag. A month later at Antietam, the unit suffered a casualty rate of 49% during the horrific fighting in “the cornfield.” Shortly after the battle, this flag was sent back to Texas for display at the State Capitol in Austin. It passed into the custody of a regiment veteran after the war. By 1910 the flag was in the custody of the Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, a veteran’s group, and by 1920 was in the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Wool, silk, and cotton, 38 x 46 inches (flag) 4 x 57 inches (streamer) Conserved
TSLAC 306-4047: Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment Flag
This flag was made for the 5th Texas Regiment by Maude Young, a Houston botanist and school principal whose son had enlisted in the Texas Brigade. The flag was emblazoned with the regiment’s name and the Latin motto Vivere Sat Vincere, or “To conquer is to live enough.” It was presented to the regiment in June 1862, and served as the regimental colors two weeks later at the Battle of Gaines Mill. The flag was sent away to be decorated with battle honors after the Peninsula Campaign, and the regiment carried their earlier Lone Star flag (TSLAC 306-4042) at Second Manassas and Antietam. After that flag was sent back to Texas for display, the regiment chose to use Mrs. Young’s flag through the rest of the war. As part of Hood’s Texas Brigade, the regiment fought at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.
At the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, the 5th Texas was at the heart of a famous incident in which General Robert E. Lee, facing the possibility of defeat in the battle, took up a position near this flag and shouted “Hurrah for Texas!” and “Texans always move them!” When the troops realized that Lee intended to spur his horse to the front to personally lead the counterattack, some two dozen Texans physically prevented Lee from taking the risk. After Lee was out of harm’s way, the inspired Texans charged and broke the Union lines, turning the tide of the battle.
In October 1864, the 5th Texas was all but annihilated at the Battle of Darbytown. Three officers who returned home to Texas to seek new recruits took the battered flag to Houston and returned it to Maude Young, who raised $30,000 ($413,000 in current dollars) to build a hospital in Richmond to treat wounded Texans. Her son, Dr. S.O. Young, survived the war. By the 1920s the flag was in the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives.
Cotton and silk, 37.5 x 40.5 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4057: 16th Texas Infantry Regiment, Company G Flag
This flag is similar in appearance to TSLAC 306-4047, the flag of the Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment. It was donated by the family of Fred Carleton (1841-1910), who served in Company G of the Sixteenth Texas Volunteer Infantry, organized near Hempstead in 1862. The flag is said to have seen service at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill during the 1864 Red River Campaign. Carleton went on to serve in the Texas Legislature and helped to found the Confederate Home and the Confederate Women's Home for aged and indigent veterans and their widows.
Wool, 42.5 x 52 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4049: Third Texas Cavalry Regiment Flag
The 3rd Texas Cavalry Regiment was organized in Dallas in June 1861. Many of the members were members of the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society that had promoted secession before the war. The regiment became part of the Texas Cavalry Brigade. In August, the 3rd Texas Cavalry became the first unit from Texas to fight in a major battle, the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in southwestern Missouri. Soon moving into Mississippi, the regiment sustained 50% casualties at the Battle of Iuka in September 1862, then went on to play a pivotal role in the defense of Vicksburg and Jackson.
This flag, produced by a private contractor in Mobile, Alabama, was presented to the regiment in November 1863 and was inscribed with the names of the many battles at which the 3rd Cavalry had distinguished itself. In December 1863, Lawrence Sullivan (Sul) Ross, a former Texas Ranger and future governor of Texas, took over command of the Texas Cavalry Brigade, which became known as “Ross’s Brigade.” Under Ross’s command, the Texas Cavalry Brigade distinguished itself in almost daily fighting in Georgia, sustaining heavy losses during the siege of Atlanta. This flag was lost at the Battle of Lovejoy’s Station, part of the Atlanta campaign, in August 1864. The regiment went on to fight at Franklin and Nashville in late 1864, then fought out the rest of the war in Mississippi. They never formally surrendered. The flag was returned to the state of Texas in 1905.
Silk, 70 x 73 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4039: Unidentified Unit Flag
This flag, from an unidentified Texas regiment, is inscribed with battle honors “Mansfield, April 8th 1864” and “Pleasant Hill, April 9, 1864.” This flag is important for two reasons. First, it was carried by a Texas unit in the two desperate Louisiana battles that turned back Union General Nathaniel Banks' Red River Expedition, thus saving East Texas from invasion by Federal troops. Second, it is one of only two “Taylor” battle flags still in existence. Taylor flags are named for General Richard Taylor, the Confederate commander in western Louisiana, and display the reverse colors of the more well-known Confederate battle flag.
Wool and Cotton, 62 x 81 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4058: Unidentified Unit Flag
This flag is thought to have belonged to an infantry unit. At some point in its history a black cross with a white ribbon was added to the flag, probably as a symbol of mourning. It is unknown whether the decoration was added during the war to memorialize a fallen officer, or after the war to mark a veteran's passing.
Cotton, 36 x 36 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4061: Unidentified Unit Flag
Very little is known of this Confederate battle flag, which is in small fragments. At one time, the fragments were arranged on a fabric backing, but the unoriginal material has been removed, and the flag awaits further study and conservation.
Wool and Cotton, 26.5 x 33.5 (29.5 inset) Conserved
TSLAC 306-4050: Commodore's Flag - Alabama
In a tradition dating back to the British Royal Navy, both Confederate and Union ships flew flags at the masthead to designate the vessel of a fleet commander. This swallow-tail pennant with a single white star is that of a commodore, which is a captain serving as commander of a squadron. Commodores' pennants varied in color, with the most senior officer flying a blue flag, while the second-in-command flew a red flag, and the others white flags with blue stars.
This flag has been described as an “Alabama naval flag” for reasons now lost. More information is needed to test theories such as whether the flag was associated with an officer from Alabama, a ship outfitted at one of the naval yards in Alabama (Mobile, Selma, or Montgomery), captured in a naval battle off the coast of Alabama, or flown aboard the legendary raider CSS Alabama.
Wool and cotton, 81 x 111.5 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4062: Flag Captured Near the St. Johns River, Florida
Thanks to Bruce Graetz, Senior Curator, Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee, for sharing research and information that made the identification of this flag possible.
The flag’s inscription: “Captured near St. Johns River” written on the canvas sleeve, has led to two differing theories as to the possible history of this flag. The St. Johns River, located in northeast Florida, was both a blockade-running area and the site of Confederate artillery batteries. Because of its general similarity to the Tampa Bay flag (TSLAC 306-4065), which has a recorded history indicating capture from a Southern vessel, a similar history for this flag as one captured from a blockade-running ship near the St. Johns River would appear likely. The crescent moon is sometimes associated with South Carolina, so the flag might have come from a vessel with ties to that state.
An alternative, but less likely, possibility is that it could be the Confederate flag reported by Union naval forces as seized when the Confederates evacuated their heavy artillery battery at St. John’s Bluff on October 3, 1862. The battery, located on the bank of the St. Johns River, had been defended by troops of the 1st Florida Special Battalion. The Union officer who found the flag in the battery presented it to Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont as a trophy. The history of the St. Johns River flag is uncertain and the exact route by which it made its way to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission remains unknown.
Wool and cotton, 97.5 x 124 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4065: Flag Captured off Tampa Bay, Florida
Thanks to Bruce Graetz, Senior Curator, Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee, for sharing research and information that made the identification of this flag possible.
This flag is inscribed on the white edge: “Captured by Moonlight after a long chase comenced near Tampa bay.” Based on this notation, the flag was apparently taken by the crew of a Union ship from a captured Southern vessel along Florida’s central Gulf coast. Tampa Bay was an active area for Southern blockade-runners. These vessels are known to have flown a variety of different flag patterns; however, this example appears to be of a unique design. Alternatively, because of its somewhat similar appearance to the St. John's River flag (TSLAC 306-4062), one independent researcher has speculated that this flag could perhaps have originally been used in the Confederate artillery battery at Fort Brooke, Tampa, which was occupied by troops of the 2nd Florida Battalion. However, no documentation is known that substantiates this theory.
Whatever its origin, because the edge is also inscribed with the words, “Bill Long's Sales,” it is believed that the flag eventually passed into the hands of William W. Long, a Philadelphia bar owner who exhibited a vast collection of curiosities in his “museum” in the years during and after the Civil War. Long’s collection was auctioned by his heirs in 1943, though the exact route by which the flag made its way to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission remains unknown. It was long misidentified as a Spanish-American War era flag.
Wool and cotton, 102 x 156 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4059: Confederate First National FlagWhen the Confederate government formed in early 1861, the would-be nation had no flag to act as its symbol. Many in the Confederate Congress argued that the states of the Confederacy should retain the American flag (“Stars and Stripes”), while others believed they should adopt a flag so different that it represented a complete break from the past. What resulted was a compromise that became known as the “Stars and Bars.” Three stripes of red and white shared the field with a blue canton displaying a star for each state in the Confederacy (flags exist bearing as few as seven stars and as many as 13 stars).
Because of the bitterness of the fighting, the Confederate government lost popularity over the course of the war, and along with it the flag. The Stars and Bars was discontinued in 1863 for a new design that incorporated the Confederate battle flag with the familiar St. Andrew’s Cross. After the war, the Stars and Bars and its successors were forgotten while the Confederate battle flag became the symbol of the “Lost Cause.”
Wool and cotton, 25 x 80 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4046: Confederate First National Flag
This Lone Star variation on the first national flag of the Confederacy (the “Stars and Bars”) bears the ink inscription “Captured from Schooner William near Oyster Bay.” The reverse side is inscribed with the word “Martine.”
For some years it was believed that this flag was captured in October 1863 from the British schooner William off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, an incident documented in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (Naval), and that backstory is reflected in the flag's conservation reports. However, recent research has determined that the flag was almost certainly captured from another British schooner named William on July 1, 1862, off the coast of Sabine Pass, Texas. At that time, the area was home to a massive oyster bed that forced boats to travel in narrow channels near shore. Loaded with 405 bales of cotton, William was en route to Jamaica when captured by the USS De Soto and taken to Key West, Florida by acting master William L. Martine.
Wool and cotton, 74 x 112 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4060: Confederate Second National Flag
The First National Flag of the Confederacy, known as the Stars and Bars, had lost popularity by the middle of 1863, with many Southerners feeling it too closely resembled the American flag (Stars and Stripes). A new banner, soon nicknamed the Stainless Banner, consisted of a snow-white flag with the Confederate battle flag (St. Andrew’s cross) in the canton. The flag’s use was short-lived, as in the absence of wind it resembled the white flag of surrender.
This flag is inscribed on the edge with the words Battle of Mobile Bay; No 206; Wm Long's Phil Museum Sale. Though documentation is lacking, the inscription suggests that the flag may have been captured during the decisive naval action at Mobile Bay, Alabama, on August 5, 1864. William W. Long was a Philadelphia bar owner who exhibited a vast collection of curiosities in his museum in the years during and after the Civil War. His collection was auctioned by his heirs in 1943, though the exact route by which the flag made its way to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is still unknown.
Wool, 69 x 145 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4067: Confederate Second National Flag
This example of the Confederate Second National Flag is inscribed on the reverse side with the name Major Chas. R. Benton, C.S.A. Major Benton was the chief ordnance officer at the Confederate garrison in Galveston, and this flag is believed to have flown there.
Wool, 55 x 91 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4044: Confederate Battle Flag (20th Century)
In the early 20th century, this flag design became a popular and widely recognized symbol of Dixie. As such, the flag occasioned little controversy as late as World War II, when southern units carried this flag into battle as a symbol of their regional pride. In the 1950s, the flag was adopted as a symbol of resistance to the civil rights movement and became the extremely controversial symbol that it remains today.
This machine-made flag is well-worn. A working theory holds that it may have flown over the Texas Confederate Home (1886-1963). The home operated at 1600 West Sixth Street in Austin and provided shelter and nursing care for indigent and disabled Confederate veterans. It became a state-run facility in 1891 and served over 2000 veterans of the Civil War. The last Civil War veteran to live at the home died in 1953. The home continued to provide service to veterans of the Spanish-American War and World War I until it was closed in 1963. The buildings were demolished in 1970.
Wool and cotton, 56 x 86 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4063: Lone Star Flag (20th Century)
This 20th century Texas flag is of unknown origins, but is identified in some files as a Confederate flag. It bears some similarities in size and manufacturer to TSLAC 306-4044, leading to a working theory that it also flew over the Texas Confederate Home.
Wool, 43 x 61 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4054: U.S. National 48-Star Flag
The United States flag bore 48 stars from 1912-1959, making this design one of the most common versions of the national flag ever produced. This flag flew over the Texas Confederate Women's Home (1908-1963). The home operated at 3710 Cedar Street in the Hyde Park area of Austin, and provided shelter and care primarily for elderly widows and wives of Confederate veterans. Founded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, it became a state-run facility in 1911.
Over the years more than 3400 women lived at the facility. In 1963, the last three surviving women were moved to private care facilities and the home was closed. The last Confederate widow to have lived at the home died in 1970 at the age of 104. The building remained in state use as a residence for nurses for the Austin State Hospital and later, as an annex for the State School for the Blind. Today, much altered by successive remodelings over the decades, it houses the offices of a number of non-profit agencies.
Wool, 98 x 176 inches Unconserved
TSLAC 306-4066: Masonic Flag (20th Century)
Almost nothing is known about this flag, which bears two of the most recognizable symbols in Freemasonry: the square and compasses with the letter G in the center, and the seven stars or Pleiades. The pennant shape of the flag, along with its very large size, suggest that it may have been flown at sea.
It was not unusual for Masonic ship captains to carry a flag and fly it to ask for (or offer) help from other Masons, who were obliged to recognize the brotherhood regardless of nationality. During the age of ocean liners, in the early to mid 20th century, a Masonic captain would sometimes fly a flag to indicate the presence of a high-ranking Masonic passenger.
A definitive Texas connection for the flag has not been established. It bears the inked inscriptions Haverly and No 2, which may indicate the lodge that provided the flag. In Texas, this would suggest a connection with Milam Masonic Lodge #2, which was established in Nacogdoches in 1836 and is still active today.
Silk, 54 x 90 inches (approximate) Unconserved
Texas A&M Service Flag
This flag was created by the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) to represent the sacrifice of Aggies who served in World War I. A field of 2200 blue stars representing the Aggies who served in the war surrounds 55 gold stars symbolizing the men who died in the conflict. The entire senior class of 1918 served in World War I, as well as some 49% of all Texas A&M graduates, the highest percentage of any college or university in the United States. Approximately 1200 former students were commissioned officers.
This flag entered the custody of TSLAC sometime between 1974 and 1983. Prior to that time, it hung in the Texas State Capitol. At least one other example is known to exist, and the 1942 Texas A&M yearbook contains a photograph showing a colossal version of this flag spanning 30-40 feet in length.
On April 6, 2017, this flag and another flag of the same design and materials were permanently transferred from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives of the Texas A&M University Libraries.
Wool, 42 x 72 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4051: Texas Rifle Team
In 1903, alarmed by the state of America’s marksmanship and national defense preparedness, Congress established the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. The main activity of the board was to run the National Matches, an annual rifle competition with teams representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the military organizations of each state, such as the state National Guard. Since 1907, the competition has been held at Camp Perry, Ohio.
The Texas Adjutant General's Department oversees the Texas National Guard and other state military forces. This undated flag represents the Texas Rifle Team, chosen each year under the auspices of the Adjutant General in a competition at Camp Mabry in Austin.
Wool, 44.5 x 68 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4056: Texas Centennial Flag, 1936
The 1936 Centennial Exposition, the gigantic world’s fair held in Dallas to mark the 100th anniversary of Texas independence, has been described as the birthplace of modern Texas. The fair was the culmination of a dozen years of work by countless state agencies and thousands of Texans. Legendary retail entrepreneur Stanley Marcus described the impact of the exposition: “It was in 1936 that the rest of the world discovered Texas.” The Texas Centennial was more than pageantry. Highways were built or improved to handle tourism. The state was systematically photographed for the first time; a saturation advertising and publicity campaign brought modern Texas to the attention of the nation.
The ultra-modern Art Deco buildings still stand at the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas, the largest collection of such architecture remaining in the world. The fair’s pavilions included the nation’s first celebration of African-American life, and the athletic contests were the first to be integrated in the South. The fair’s economic impact is credited with buffering Dallas from the worst of the Great Depression and developing the generation of leaders that transformed Dallas into one of the nation’s largest and most powerful cities. This flag is a well-preserved example of a flag commercially created for the Texas Centennial. Where or even whether it was ever flown is unknown.
Wool and cotton, 58 x 82.5 inches Conserved
TSLAC 306-4052: Republic of Chile Flag (Modern)
The Texas flag and the flag of the Republic of Chile (La Estrella Solitairia or the Lone Star) bear a strong resemblance to one another,. The Republic of Chile adopted their flag on October 18, 1817, more than 20 years before the Texas flag was created.
Some men later involved in the Texas Revolution, including future Texas president David G. Burnet, had filibustered in Chile, and there is some speculation that they may have been inspired by Chile's design when creating the Texas flag. No documentation exists that supports this theory, and the resemblance may be a simple coincidence.