The Bonnie Blue Flag, a single white star on a blue field, was the flag of the short-lived Republic of West Florida. In September 1810, settlers in the Spanish territory of West Florida revolted against the Spanish government and proclaimed an independent republic. The Bonnie Blue Flag was raised at the Spanish fort in Baton Rouge on September 23, 1810. In December, West Florida was annexed by the United States and the republic ceased to exist, after a life of 74 days.
In 1836, The Bonnie Blue served as the inspiration for the first flag of the Republic of Texas, known as the Burnet Flag. It was replaced in 1839 by the currently used Lone Star Flag, which also bears a single star.
The Bonnie Blue Flag holds special significance to the Texas brigade. The song was premiered by lyricist Harry Macarthy during a concert in Jackson, Mississippi, in the spring of 1861 and performed again in September of that same year at the New Orleans Academy of Music for the First Texas Volunteer Infantry regiment mustering in celebration. The New Orleans music publishing house of A. E. Blackmar issued six editions of The Bonnie Blue Flag between 1861 and 1864 along with three additional arrangements. The tune was so popular that Union General Benjamin Butler was said to have arrested and fined Blackmar for daring to publish it.
General Longstreet writes in his memoirs: "My mind was relieved by information that my resignation was accepted, to take effect on the 1st of June 1861. In our travel next day we crossed the line into the State of Texas. From the gloomy forebodings of old friends, it seemed at El Paso that we had entered into a different world. All was enthusiasm and excitement, and songs of "Dixie and the South" were borne upon the balmy air. But the Texas girl did not ascend to a state of incandescent charm until the sound of the first notes of The Bonny Blue Flag reached her ear. Then her feet rose in gleeful springs, her limbs danced, her hands patted, her eyes glowed, her lips moved, though she did not care to speak, or listen to any one. She seemed lifted in the air, thrilled and afloat, holding to the 'Single Star' in joyful hope of Southern rights."
When Mississippi seceded from the Union on January 9, 1861, as a sign of independence the Bonnie Blue Flag was raised over the capitol building in Jackson. On January 26, 1861, Mississippi officially adopted a new flag, which included the Bonnie Blue Flag in its canton and a magnolia tree in its center field (known as the Magnolia Flag). This flag remained in use until 1894.
A nearly identical yet unrelated flag, portraying a single star on a blue field, is normally displayed during U.S. military ceremonies indicating the presence of a United States Navy rear admiral (lower half) or an Air Force brigadier general. Marine Corps or Army general officers display a simliar flag with a red background and an appropriate number of white stars corresponding to their rank (brigadier general, one star; major general, two stars; lieutenant general, three stars; general, four stars). These flags are generally displayed separately from the American Flag by attachment to a secondary flag staff. Smaller flags for Army generals are also known as "personal" flags and are displayed in their office spaces.