Period Artifacts

When the Southern slave states seceded from the Union, they joined and became their own nation, namely the Confederate States of America. As part of their independence, they wrote their own Constitution, created their own flag and printed their own money. This section outlines the history of the Confederate flag and currency.


The Confederate Constitution guaranteed the Confederate states the right to print their own currency. The capitol, first housed in Montgomery, Alabama and then in Richmond, Virginia, printed huge quantities of paper money to finance the war. Some of the states printed money as well, and overall the Confederacy issued about two billion dollars of paper notes during the war.

Because of counterfeiting done by northern printers, the South's financial structure began to collapse. One Philadelphia printer advertised $2,000 worth of phony Confederate dollars for 50 cents. North Carolina, which had printed over twenty million dollars of Confederate notes, found its economy falling as food and clothing prices began to escalate rapidly. Wheat prices rose over 1,600 per cent, and flour prices over 2,800 per cent. Previous stapes like sugar and tea became so expensive that North Carolinians found substitutes. North Carolina issued over 150 varieties of notes.

As a result, the Federal government established a national standard for currency after the Civil War. This standard led to the chartering of several national banks, including the First National Bank of Charlotte, which was in 1865 the first North Carolina bank to receive a charter. Later efforts to standardize the financial system led to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913.


Confederate Flags

Although the CSA Naval Jack has survived as the official flag of the Confederacy, the southern states adopted several flags between the time the first seven states seceded to the end of the Civil War.

The Stars and Bars

Stars and BarsThe first official flag of the Confederate States was called the "Stars and Bars," containing seven stars representing the Confederate States (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas). The flag became authorized March 4, 1861, although a flag law did not accompany it. As the Confederacy grew, more states were added, first Virginia and Arkansas, then North Carolina and Tennessee, and finally Kentucky and Missouri by the end of the year. Two stars were added later for Maryland and Delaware; however, neither of them joined the Confederacy.

Nicola Marschall, a Prussian artist, designed the flag, and patterned it after the Austrian flag. Several variations of this flag appear, having different numbers of stars. Most of the surviving flags have only 11 stars, representing the official Confederate states. Kentucky and Missouri had both Confederate and Union governments and were not recognized by many Southerners as legitimate Confederate states. Maryland attempted to join, but when its governor was placed under house arrest and its legislature disbanded and then replaced by Union members, it remained loyal to the Union. Delaware never joined the Confederacy, even though it was a slave state.

The Stainless Banner

StainlessA year after the Stars and Bars had been adopted, Confederate seamstresses designed a new flag. The new flag was intended to be completely different from the United States Stars and Stripes. The white field represented the purity of the Confederate cause. The flag flew officially for the first time on May 1, 1863.

Third Confederate Flag

Third Confederate FlagAs the Confederates realized that the white background on the Stainless Banner looked like a flag of surrender, they added one red bar to the right edge of the flag. The Third Confederate Flag, or Last Confederate Flag, as it was also called, was used the longest during the Civil War and was present during the most battles. The flag originated from Alexander, Virginia, sewn by two sisters. This flag was adopted on March 4, 1865.

The Confederate Battle Flag
(The Southern Cross)>

Before the adBattle Flagoption of the Stainless Banner, soldiers began to complain that they could not tell the difference between the Stars and Bars and the Union's Stars and Stripes. To address the issue, South Carolina congressman William Porcher Miles submitted a flag design based on the South Carolina secession banner. At the time, Congress rejected his proposal since the Confederacy had only 7 states, and the stars would have looked unbalanced. However, northern Virginia and Confederate generals Beauregard, Johnston and Smith decided to adopt it as their battle flag since Congress had not responded to their request to change the Stars and Bars.

Congressman Miles' design included a state coat of arms in the upper left corner. When Virginia adopted the design, they produced square flags, a shape that Johnston liked because of the ease of reproduction. However, the battle flag that Johnston carried after November 1861 not only inspired complaints from the Confederate officers, who disliked the background color of pink, they were also rectangular in design, quite different from Johnston's request for square flags. Since the Confederacy consisted of 12 states by that time, the problem of the stars' unevenness had been solved. Later designs of the flag also changed the background color from pink to the familiar deep red.

Although the Confederate Battle Flag never became an official flag of the Confederacy, its design survived until the next century. In 1905 the flag became the official "battleflag" of the Confederacy and has become the formal icon of the southern cause.


North Carolina's State Flag

NC State FlagWhen North Carolina seceded on May 20, 1861, the secession convention voted to design a new flag. With Colonel John D. Whitford as chairman, the convention officially adopted the first state flag on June 22, 1861. The design included two dates: May 20, 1775 to indicate the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and May 20, 1861 to indicate the date the state left the Union. North Carolina would not officially change the flag design until 1885, when the present state flag design became official.