Captured Confederate Flags
The State of Illinois has in its collection captured Confederate
flags where were not returned to the former Confederate states.
During the Civil War, there was no specific directive concerning
the disposition of Confederate flags captured by the Union troops.
In some cases the flags were passed up through the ranks to army
command while at other times the flags were retained by the men
in the company or regiment who had captured them. By the end of
the War there were at least 500 Confederate flags in the possession
of the U. S. Government. In 1887 President Grover Cleveland ordered
the return of the captured flags in possession of the U. S. Government
but the order was rescinded following political pressures from Union
veteran organizations. However, in 1905 the government returned
the captured Confederate flags to the Governor of each of the former
Confederate states and to the appropriate border states. Those flags
which were not associated with a specific State or where the State
of origin was unknown were deposited at the Museum of the Confederacy
Many of the Confederate flags in possession of the Northern States
were also return, but Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin
along with the Chicago Historical Society retained possession of
some of the captured flags.
The following photos and information details the ten captured Confederate
flags still held by the State of Illinois. The flags in the collection
are of two types -- First National Flags and Battle Flags.
First National Flag
"The flag of the Confederate States of America shall consist
of a red field with a white space extending horizontally through
the center and equal in width to one-third of the width of the flag,
and red spaces above and below to the same width as the white, the
union blue extending down through the white space and stopping at
the lower red space, in the center of the union a circle of white
stars corresponding in number with the States of the Confederacy."
(Congress of the Confederate States of America, March 3, 1861; depiction
of the First National Flag) Illinois does not have in its collection
any of the Confederate Second or Third National flags.
The Confederates used a number of battle flags. The majority were
patterned after those of Virginia - a square flag with a blue cross
and white stars. Four of the flags in the Illinois collection are
of this type while the remaining two have other, very distinctive
Flag photos are continuously being updated
to the database.
Please check back often.