The Man Behind the Last Confederate Flag – Captain Arthur L. Rogers

With all the focus lately on the flags of the Confederacy, I thought I would share the story of the man who designed the last Confederate flag. I first came across Captain Arthur Rogers on one of my walks around the Middleburg Cemetery. Most local history minded people knew of Rogers’ involvement in the locally raised Loudoun Artillery, but his role as the Confederacy’s last banner designer goes unrecognized.

On December 13, 1864 Bill No. 137 was introduced in the Confederate Senate to create a

Arthur Lee Rogers

Arthur Lee Rogers

new design for a national flag for the Confederate States of America. Though few knew it, the Confederacy only had four months left. It seemed a flag design would be the least of the Confederate leaders’ concerns.

The second national flag consisted of a white field with the Confederate battle flag in the upper left corner. The issue on the battlefield was when the flag was not caught in a breeze, it very much looked like a white flag of surrender. Military leaders pushed for a new design to end the confusion on the battlefield. Soon a little known artillery officer submitted his simple alteration to the current flag.

The man who submitted the new design was Major Arthur Lee Rogers. Rogers, born in Middleburg, VA., attended the Hallowell School in Alexandria (the same prepatory school Robert E. Lee attended). He attended the Virginia Military Institute but due to poor health was not able to finish. Being from a prominent Loudoun County family, Rogers was placed in a position with the County clerk’s office. He excelled at his work which led him to pursuing a law degree at the University of Virginia, graduating in 1856.

When Virginia seceded, Rogers assisted in raising a local artillery battery, the “Loudoun Artillery” and was soon voted as its Captain. Rogers and his artillery fought at the Battle of First Manassas, located originally along Bull Run near Lewis Ford, but transferred to Henry House Hill. Here the battery assisted in the victory won around Judith Henry’s house. Rogers continued to lead his battery and won a promotion to Major in September 1862. In October 1862 he lost his battery when it was dissolved and combined into the Fauquier Artillery. Rogers eventually was assigned to the staff of Colonel Stapleton Crutchfield – Lt. Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s chief of artillery.

It was in this position that led Rogers to be on the Chancellorsville battlefield late on May 2, 1863. Moving up artillery to take on the Federal artillery at Hazel Grove, both Rogers and Crutchfield were wounded. Placed in an ambulance to be moved to the rear, soon another injured soldier appeared – Lt. Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson. Rogers, knowing Crutchfield’s injury was serious, offered his place in the ambulance to Jackson.

Rogers recovered in Richmond and Lexington, then assigned to the defenses of Richmond. It was here he developed his design for a new national flag for the Confederacy. One of hundreds of designs, Rogers submitted his in January 1865 with the endorsement of most of the top Confederate generals. Passed into law on March 4, 1865 the bill stated

Third National Confederate Flag

Third National Confederate Flag

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact that the flag of the Confederate States shall be as follows: The width two-thirds of its length, with the union (now used as the battle flag) to be in width three-fifths of the width of the flag, and so proportioned as to leave the length of the field on the side of the union twice the width of the field below; is to have the ground red and a blue saltin thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding in numbers of that of the Confederate States, the field to be white, except the outer half from the union, to be a red bar extending the width of the flag.”

Using classic symbolism, Rogers described the flag’s white field symbolized purity and innocence, and the red fortitude and courage. The cross of St. Andrew indicated descent from British lineage, while the red bar was taken from the French flag, as many other Southerners were descended from French lineage.

Very few new flags were made, the Confederate government was on the run as of April 2nd and the only flags that were made were just quick alterations of the old national flag. With the end of the Confederacy, so too was any recognition of Rogers’ role in the last flag of the Confederacy.

Rogers returned to Middleburg after the war. He returned to his law business and became

Grave of Maj. Rogers, Middleburg, VA

Grave of Maj. Rogers, Middleburg, VA

involved in civic affairs. His life though was not long; he passed away in 1871. In a VMI biographic sketch of Rogers printed in 1875, Rogers was described as “Cut off in the prime of manhood, his memory, for all those qualities of head and heart for which he was so eminent, will long be cherished by his numerous surviving kindred and friends.”

Sources

American Civil War Museum, Richmond, VA

Biographical sketches of the Graduates and Eleves of the Virginia Military Institute who fell during the war between the States, by Chas. D. Walker. Published 1875.

The Brooke, Fauquier, Loudoun and Alexandria Artillery by Michael J. Andrus

Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 28

This entry was posted in Arms & Armaments, Battlefields & Historic Places, Civilian, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Memory, Personalities, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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