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  CONFEDERATE SOUTHERN CROSS NAVY JACK / “BATTLE FLAG”, MADE BY COPELAND, WASHINGTON, D.C., CIRCA 1895-1920's

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 59" x 82.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 48" x 71.5"
Description....:
A beautiful Confederate flag of the early reunion period, made by Martin G. Copeland & Co. in Washington, DC sometime between 1895 and the 1920's. The flag was probably produced for use by the United Confederate Veterans (U.C.V.), or the Daughters of the Confederacy (U.D.C.). The U.C.V. formed in 1889 and served as the primary post-war organization for Confederate soldiers. The U.D.C. was established in 1884 and thus actually preceded the men.

There were several reasons why far fewer flags were produced for reunions in the South. One of these was the simple fact that Union Army veterans organized much earlier, in 1866, immediately following the war. At first, Confederate veterans didn't gather, partly because they lost and there was little to celebrate, and partly because the North was overseeing Reconstruction (1865-76). Organized meetings of former Confederate Army soldiers were strictly forbidden.

Another reason for fewer flags was the poverty that spread through the Confederate States after they seceded. Cut off from the northern textile mills and the northern investors who fueled cotton production, it would take more than half-a-century for South to regain a stable financial foothold. Even after the U.C.V. and U.D.C. were active, the scarcity of surviving flags--especially larger, sewn examples like the Copeland flag in question--are a rather clear indicator that these organizations could not afford the sort of elaborate regalia that existed among Northern Civil War veterans groups, such as the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.).

So the scarcity of Confederate reunion period flags accounts for one of this flag's attractions. Another is its rich colors and obvious wear from extended use. The signature is rare. I have the Copeland stencil on only 4 or 5 other flags, all of which were Stars & Stripes. This is the only Confederate example. Located at 383 Pennsylvania Avenue, just a block or so from the United States Capitol, the Copeland firm organized in 1862. In 1865 it appears for the first time in the local County Directory, where it was listed as a manufacturer of tents and awnings. Many flag-makers put bread on the table by producing tents and awnings. Flags and banners were part of their wider offerings.

Established in 1862, M.G. Copeland & Co. had no recorded contracts for military production of flags during the Civil War (1861-65), but records show significant output during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Here there were contracts for 100 garrison, 200 post, and 350 storm and recruiting flags. Before this, in 1894, there were contracts for 400 post and 25 garrison flags. Afterwards, in 1900, there were contracts for 2,500 storm and recruiting flags and in 1905, 400 naval ensigns and 600 navy jacks. The firm was reportedly still in business in Alexandria, Virginia as late as 1999, but seems to have since closed, as there are no current phone records or internet presence.

A Brief History of the U.C.V.:
“The United Confederate Veterans Association was established in 1889 as a benevolent, historical, social, and literary association. It was active from 1889 to the mid-1940’s. Its mission was to "unite in a general federation all associations of Confederate veterans, soldiers and sailors, now in existence or hereafter to be formed; to gather authentic data for an impartial history of the war between the States; to preserve relics or mementos of the same; to cherish the ties of friendship that should exist among men who have shared common dangers, common sufferings and privations; to care for the disabled and extend a helping hand to the needy; to protect the widows and the orphans, and to make and preserve a record of the services of every member, and as far as possible of those of our comrades who have preceded us in eternity."
[Source: http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/findaid/u1357.html]

A Brief History of Confederate Flag Designs:

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 7 white stars arranged on a blue canton and three linear stripes, which were instead termed "bars" (2 red with 1 white in-between).

Use of the Stars & Stripes and the Stars & Bars on the same battlefield created great confusion. For this reason, the second national 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.

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”, but officially the red did not represent blood, but rather paid homage to the French, who lent aid to the South during the war. 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 by itself the Southern Cross 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 it was so short-lived. Production of Southern Cross battle flags began in late 1861 and coincided with the national versions.

Mounting: The flag was hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics for support throughout. It was then hand-stitched to 100% hemp fabric. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is minor mothing and wear throughout, accompanied by a couple of moderate areas near the center of the fly end. These were easily stabilized during the mounting process. There is minor foxing and staining throughout, accompanied by a couple of moderate stains above and below the apex of the device. Many of my clients actually prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1895
Latest Date of Origin: 1920's
State/Affiliation: The Confederacy
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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