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  CONFEDERATE FIRST NATIONAL (STARS & BARS) PATTERN BIBLE FLAG, HANDED DOWN THROUGH THE FAMILY OF JAMES H. COOK, A MEMBER OF MORGAN’S RAIDERS; A LARGE FORMAT EXAMPLE WITH 7 STARS, IN A DISTRESSED BUT ENDEARING STATE OF PRESERVATION, PROBABLY 1861

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 11.75" x 16.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 6" x 11.5"
Description....:
Confederate Bible flag in the first national format (a.k.a., Stars & Bars), made of silk and entirely hand-sewn. On this example, 7 stars are stitched to an interesting blue canton that is vertically-oriented instead of horizontal. This is pieced in two sections and there is a length of blue cord (silk floss) bound along the hoist.

7 states seceded from the Union in the initial wave, between December 20th, 1860 and February 2nd, 1861. The Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted on February 7th of that year and the Stars & Bars was selected as the first of three different national designs on March 4th, a day that coincided with Abraham Lincoln's inauguration. The original configuration had 7 stars to represent the 7 Confederate States. This was employed until the secession of more states. As with the Stars & Stripes, the Stars & Bars received a star for each new state, but the periods between each addition were very brief. Virginia voted in favor of secession on April 17th, 1861 and the ordinance was ratified by the State Legislature on May 23rd. The star count would have been increased by flag-makers to 8 at some point during this window.

Bible flags were made for a soldier by a loved one, to be presented as a token of pride and affection when he went away to war. They received this name because they were typically carried in a Bible, both because this was the safest place that a soldier might keep a flat, treasured object of this sort on his person, with limited places to do so, and because they sometimes doubled as a bookmark.

Bible flags were most often constructed of ladies’ dress silk or dress ribbon. A woman might use new fabric, but if the maker was a girlfriend, fiancée, or wife, as opposed to a mother or sister, then she might use fabric clipped from her own dress a way to romatically personalize the gift. Bible flags are found in all shapes and sizes, and with every star configuration imaginable, but many are small enough to fit in a small Bible.

This particular flag is rather large, which makes it scarcer than many of its counterparts. Larger examples were more likely waved first by the maker, during whatever local ceremonies or processions took place, then presented to the departing husband, brother, son, fiancée, etc.. These would have been folded to be stowed more easily.

This particular flag was handed down through the family of James H. Cook, a member of Morgan's Raiders, one of the most memorable Confederate mounted units. Morgan's Raiders was an outgrowth of several Kentucky Cavalry regiments, principally the 2nd Kentucky, which was raised by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan in 1862, fought at Shiloh, then struck out on an unsanctioned raid, against orders, into Ohio and Indiana. This group of guerillas struck terror wherever they went and became famous for it, taking hundreds of prisoners, but in the end were defeated and the sum of their accomplishments is thought to have done little for the Confederate cause. Brother-in-law of Confederate General A.P. Hill, Morgan is no less remembered, but unlike Hill, lost his credibility among the Confederate staff. He was captured Salineville, Ohio, the northernmost point ever reached by uniformed Confederates. He escaped from a Union prison, but never regained his former stature and was subsequently killed at Greenville, Tennessee. In spite of his downfall, he is remembered today over most all other Confederate officers and is pictured prominently on the only known style of Civil War period, patriotic Confederate kerchief. This features Confederate President Jefferson Davis, accompanied by Morgan, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Joe Johnston, and P.G.T. Beauregard.

Not a great deal is known about James H. Cook. He appears to have enlisted as a Sergeant on September 1st, 1862, with Company I of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry, identified by initials only, "J.H.," and with no residence listed. The 9th was attached to Morgan's Division in the Army of Tennessee. Records say that he deserted on January 15th, 1863, but perhaps this is because he remained attached to Morgan's 2,000 or so guerillas.

A Cook family descendent approached me a number of years ago and offered me this flag, and, though we could not come to terms at the time, it sold and I eventually acquired it from a collector. Accompanying it both then and now are two newspaper clippings that detail Cook's unusual funeral. These read as follows:

"Union Soldiers Pay Tribute to a Confederate"
Members of Gov. Crapo Post [#143, Flint Michigan] at Cook Funeral
Six Act as Pallbearers
All Bitterness Over They Say.
Cook Was None the Less a Hero, They Aver, Although He Fought for the South.

For the First time in Genesee county and possibly in the state, a Confederate soldier was borne to the grave by Union soldiers, when six members of the G.A.R. acted as pallbearers at the funeral of James H. Cook, a member of "Morgan's Guerillas." The bearers were E.A. Jennings, 94th New York infantry; George Raab, 4th Michigan cavalry; Thomas Bergin, 49th New York infantry; Abe Van Aerman, 151st New York Infantry; Thomas A. Willett, New York (navy); John M. Hart, New Hampshire (navy.)

About 25 members of the G.A.R. joined in the graceful tribute that was paid to a man who held opposite views to their own in the civil strife of 50 years ago [note that this dates the article to approx. 1910-1915]. The attendance was very pleasing to those who interested themselves in getting the veterans of the Union ranks to turn out. It is a precedent for Governor Crapo post to take part officially in such a ceremony, but one that many of the old soldiers will hope to see followed in other parts of the state and the nation.

All Bitterness Passed

"All…[text absent]…we turned out to pay tribute to a man who fought for the things in which he believed, although they were contrary to the ideas which were held by us," said one of the G.A.R. men. "He was none the less a hero because he was on the side of the Confederacy and we felt that he was entitled to the honors that befall a soldier when he dies, irrespective of whether he fought for the north or the south. It is half a century since the great struggle and we have had time to appreciate the bravery of our opponents and to respect their opinions. It was fitting that we should take part in the burial of a Confederate soldier, who has lived in our midst for 20 years."

Second Article [untitled, year unknown, probably 1910-1915 based upon the previous article]

Flint, Mich., June 17.--James H. Cook, whose funeral will take place here Monday, was one of the few surviving members of that famous band of guerillas connected with the Confederate army during the civil war which was known as "Morgan's Raiders."

The experiences of Cook in the little band which struck terror to the hearts of the Union soldiers, who were unfortunate enough to be caught on the outskirts of their regiments, were thrilling. One time he nearly lost his life, when a sharpshooter of the blue-clad army from the north took his hat off with a bullet fired at long range. Another time the heel of one of his boots was torn off by a shot from an outpost in the enemy's lines.

As a member of the Morgan's Raiders he had the pleasure of helping the south by cutting off wagon trains of supplies of the northern forces, and once he rode up into the enemy's territory and helped to burn bridges and destroy a railroad that connected…[remainder absent].

Notes on Confederate Flag Design:
The Confederacy had three successive national designs, known as the First, second, and Third Confederate national flags. The First looked much like the Stars & Stripes. Also known as "The Stars & Bars", it consisted of white stars arranged on a blue canton and three linear stripes, which were instead termed "bars" (red, white, red).

Use of the Stars & Stripes and the Stars & Bars on the same battlefield created great confusion. For this reason, the second Confederate flag was adopted on May 26th, 1863. Known as the Stainless Banner, it was white in color, with the Southern Cross (a.k.a. the Confederate Battle Flag) serving as its canton. Soldiers and officers alike disliked this design because it looked too much like a surrender flag, especially if a unit that was carrying it was headed straight at you and there was no cross wind. If given the opportunity, soldiers would dip the fly end of the flag in blood to give it color.

36 days before the war’s end, a red vertical bar was added at the fly end and the result became the third national design. This was called the “blood stained banner”, though officially the red did not represent blood, but rather paid homage to the France, which lent aid to the South during the war. Note that if one were to replace the first third portions of the third Confederate national flag with a blue vertical bar, the result would be the French tri-color (the national flag of France).

Many people are surprised to learn that the Southern Cross by itself was not the national flag of the Confederate States of America. Officially, in rectangular format, it served as the Confederate Navy Jack. In square format it came to be called “the battle flag”, partly because it was carried in this format, for that purpose, by Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, as well as by Beauregard’s Army and others. It also received widespread love in the South because the second and third national designs were not particularly admired by Confederate soldiers, the second for reasons previously stated and the third because the design was so short-lived.

Mounting: The black-painted molding dates to the mid 19th century and has excellent, early surface. This is a pressure-mount between 100% hemp fabric and U.V. protective plexiglass.

Condition: The condition is somewhat deplorable, but endearing all the same. The presentation speaks to its age, use and materials. There is significant fading in both the red bars and the blue canton, that latter of which appears to have been hand-dyed. The edges of the crudely appliquéd stars, which were not turned under and have thus frayed, are such that their profiles are barely recognizable as stars. There is minor to significant splitting and fabric loss, the worst of which is located in the canton and along the hoist, where there is also darker soiling. There is some soiling in the stripe field and there is very minor transfer of the blue dye in the bottom bar. The flag is adhered to an opaque, plastic-like sheeting. We evaluated this for removal, then sent it out for a second opinion, but it was deemed unsafe to reverse the process and the textile appears to be in a state where it is likely not to experience significant further damage. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The rarity and desirability of Bible flags warrants practically any condition.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 07
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1861
State/Affiliation: The Confederacy
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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