The Battle of Gettysburg: A Tale of Two Flags
In 1860 and 1861, following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, 11 southern states seceded from the United States to protect the institution of slavery, forming the Confederate States of America. This lead to the Civil War, which was fought between the northern states of the Union, and the southern states of the Confederacy.
Although the Battle of Gettysburg neither started nor ended the Civil War, it is considered a pivotal point in the War’s history. Occurring over three days in July of 1863 – more than two years after the Confederate Troops attacked the U.S. military outpost at Fort Sumter, and still two years before the end of the Civil War in 1865 – the Battle of Gettysburg was an important victory for the Union Army.
Up until the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederacy had been largely victorious over the Union. However, on July 3, 1863, General Robert E. Lee ordered the Confederate Army to retreat, admitting defeat to General George Meade and the Union. With the momentum of the victory at Gettysburg, the Union Army began the march that would ultimately lead to the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865.
The Gettysburg Address
Unfortunately, the loss of life during the Battle of Gettysburg was staggering. With over 50,000 causalities to both sides, the Battle was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. The fact that it was fought between members of the same country left long-term scars on the U.S. that would take many decades to heal.
Because of the tragic loss of life on the battlefield, the U.S. Government commissioned a national cemetery on the site of the battle. At the dedication ceremony on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches of all time – The Gettysburg Address.
The Battle of Gettysburg Flags
During the Civil War, both the Union and the Confederacy used a variety of flags. In fact, flags were extremely important in the Battle of Gettysburg, and throughout the Civil War. Flags were used on the battlefield to help soldiers locate their unit and remain in formation over the deafening crack of muskets and cannon fire, and through the smoke that hung in the air from the black powder.
Over the course of the Civil War, the Union Flag remained relatively unchanged, varying only in its number of stars. Similar to our existing American Flag, the Original Civil War Union Flag flown during the attack on Fort Sumter had 13 red and white stripes and a dark blue stanton in the upper left corner, but with only 33 stars. Additional stars were added for Kansas in 1861, West Virginia in 1863 and Nevada in 1865.
Although never officially adopted as the national flag of the Confederates States of America, the first flag associated with the Confederacy is known as the Bonnie Blue Flag. The Confederacy adopted its first national flag in 1861, and a second flag, known as the Stainless Banner, was introduced in 1863. A third variation was created in 1865 and included a red stripe on the right side to help to distinguish the mostly white Stainless Banner from a flag of surrender or truce.
Shop for Civil War & Battle of Gettysburg Flags
In addition to the Union Flag and the Bonnie Blue Flag, Gettysburg Flag Works carries a variety of flags from several Regiments, Infantries and HQ’s, as well as Cavalry Flags associated with the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. Shop our collection of Historical Civil War Flags, or give us a call at 1-888-697-3524 to place an order by phone.