Why is there a Civil War flag?


Quick Answer

There is no one Civil War flag. The Union flag of the United States did not change during the Civil War since the Union never recognized the rights of the states to secede. The states that seceded from the Union joined the Confederate States of America, which had adopted its own flag. Both flags accompanied various regiments and units into battle, often with flags representing individual units.

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Full Answer

The flag usually associated with the Confederacy is actually a regiment battle flag. The official flag of the Confederacy initially bore a close resemblance to the Union flag and underwent several revisions before the war ended.

Flags are a necessity of every nation. They identify the nation as a sovereign entity and embody the nation’s history, people and beliefs. They also serve as a source of national identity, patriotism and pride among citizens, as well as identifying official government institutions and territory claimed by a nation.

During war, flags become more important. They serve as a rallying point for troops and as a source of morale and inspiration. Amid the smoke and confusion of the battlefield, they help troops maintain organization, stay in formation, focus attacks and avoid firing upon friendly targets. They also identify troops as belonging to a particular side and help personnel who become separated or disoriented to avoid capture and locate their units. Flags can also communicate messages to other units and to commanders.

Flags also allow commanders to assess progress, execute plans or revise strategies, observe troop movements, and coordinate, reinforce and direct units. They also mark the end of the battle and indicate when a unit reaches a particular location, takes a position or claims a territory.

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