In commemoration of the sesquicentennial of Stonewall Jackson’s death, the Museum of the Confederacy recently displayed the second national flag of the Confederacy that had been used to drape Jackson’s coffin.
Jack Humphries, a good friend of Emerging Civil War, was kind enough to serve as man-on-the-scene reporter for us and send back a few pictures. “I’m happy to share this very rare display,” Jack said—and we’re grateful to him for it.
The second national flag was first unveiled May 1, 1863 because the first design was too frequently confused for the United States flag on the battlefield. By the time the flag redesign was approved, the Confederate battle flag had come into use, so its design was incorporated into the new national colors. The white field gave it the nickname “The Stainless Banner.”
In turn, though, the Stainless Banner got a facelift. As the stories go, the white field was too often mistaken for a flag of surrender, so a red bar was added down the vertical edge opposite the St. Andrews Cross. The new design was adopted in March of 1865.
The particular flag on display at the Museum of the Confederacy first flew over the Virginia State House, which also served as the Confederate capitol. Then it covered Jackson’s casket, beginning with the state funeral events in Richmond and staying on it through Jackson’s burial in Lexington on May 15.
“It is much larger than I expected,” Jack said, “probably due to the fact that it was originally made to fly over the Capitol, then pressed into service as a funeral flag.”
Jack adds that a stop at the Museum of the Confederacy would certainly be worthwhile for anyone passing through Richmond this summer. “While the Jackson/ 2nd National Flag won’t be on display, you ought to visit,” he says. “The new exhibit is ‘They Walked Through Blood,’ featuring the battle flags of 8 VA regiments from Pickett’s division that were captured during the July 3 charge and returned through Congressional legislation early in the last century.”