Military Flags: History And Myths

byAlma Abell

Flags have been an important device used throughout history as a means of identification. In many countries, the national flag flew first over the merchant and naval vessels before appearing outside government and political buildings. These custom outdoor flags have appeared in the hands of the military forces in every country during every era of recorded time. Flags have flown to denote loyalty to a country, a tribe, an individual, a culture or a social or religious entity.

Noted Flags and Their Myths

When it comes to easily-recognized symbols, some bolstered by their appearance in television shows and movies, three stand out as icons of the military and political powers of the time. These flags include:

* The Crusader Flag

* Confederacy Battle Flag

* Flag of the United States of America

The Crusaders Flag

The design of this device is simple. The flag features a simple cross. In many cases, the cross is red, however, in the 12th century, Flanders was supposed to carry a green cross while France had a red cross and England a white one. Yet, the countries party to this agreement did not seem to hold to it. As a result, red crosses on a white background were common for all the armies fighting in the Holy Crusades. The typical Hollywood image is of a white field sporting a red cross

Confederacy Battle Flag

This iconic image of a Southern or St. Andrew’s cross is indicative of the American Civil War (1861–1865). While the tendency is to think of a single flag, this is a fallacy. Each battle unit stars, this is the stereotype. Many battlefield flags, whether at sea or on land often feature modifications of or even inverted color schemes of the national flag.

In the case of the Battle Flags of the Confederate Armies, some had a blue Southern Cross containing 13 stars against a red field. Others posted the Southern Cross in the Hoist corner. Overall, there are approximately 31 different Battle Flags for the American Confederacy. Many soldiers marched under flags that reflected the preference of their commanding officer.

The confederate Naval forces also used a variation on the Southern Cross theme, but some did not actually feature the Southern Cross.

Flag of the United States of America

If ever a flag was a custom outdoor flag is it this one. Some closely resemble the National Flag of the time but others offer distinct variations. Compare the famous flag that flew over Fort Sumpter, analogous to the National Flag, with the very personal battle flags of the Irish Brigade or the 2nd Regiment of Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. The latter features a federal Eagle, stars and regimental banner against a blue background.

In this sense, the battle flags of the Union during the American Civil War, are as varied as those of the Southern States’ battle flags. It is a mistake to assume that solders from both the South and the North all marched under a single national flag representing their country.

Custom outdoor flags from around the world come in many different designs. Battle flags follow this pattern. While many perceive a certain flag as symbolic of a battle or major event, this is rarely the case. Battle flags were not singular. They were personal expressions of the individual leaders and/or regiments involved in this clash of military power and personal, ethical, religious and/or economic beliefs.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, April 14th, 2018 at 1:43 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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