Monday, July 13, 2015

What is the Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag?

     On July 21, 1861, at a crucial moment during the First Battle of Manassas, a courier came riding into Confederate lines with a message to the effect that the Federals had reached the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad, and were marching on the Confederate lines with a heavy force. The arrival of this force would decide the fate of the battle.

     What the Confederates took to be advancing Federals were, however, troops of the 33rd Virginia, outfitted not in grey but in blue.  Both armies were clothed and equipped in an irregular and eccentric manner at this point in the war, each unit dressed in an outfit of its own design.  The Federals were fooled, at their approach, as were the Confederates, and did not realize their mistake until the Virginians crashed into their flank.  Close range volleys from the 33rd Virginia against the Federal flank scattered the infantry, leading to the rout of the Union army.

     The Confederate battle flag was born as a result of such confusion on the battlefield.  At First Manassas, amid the smoke of combat, Confederate soldiers had difficulty distinguishing which troops were carrying the American flag and which the Confederate, because the first Confederate flag so closely resembled the American flag, being red and white stripes aligned next to a ring of white stars set on a blue field.  After the First Battle of Manassas, General P.G. T. Beauregard approved a new flag: a red square, with diagonally crossed blue bars and stars, to be carried as the Confederate battle flag (not to be confused with the official flag of the Confederate States of America).  Beauregard was intent on making his troops easily identifiable.

Historian Shelby Foote on the CSA Battle Flag

A quick look at women doctors and medicine in the Civil War for the general reader. Technologically, the American Civil War was the first “modern” war, but medically it still had its roots in the Middle Ages. In both the North and the South, thousands of women served as nurses to help wounded and suffering soldiers and civilians. A few women served as doctors, a remarkable feat in an era when sex discrimination prevented women from pursuing medical education, and those few who did were often obstructed by their male colleagues at every turn.

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