"The Bonnie Blue Flag"
-                                                               The Unofficial First Flag

Originating in the Republic of West Florida in the early 1800's, the Bonnie Blue Flag was the unofficial first flag of the
Confederacy.

The first recorded use of the lone star flag dates to 1810. On September 11, 1810 a troop of West Florida dragoons
set out for the provincial capitol at Baton Rouge under this flag. They were joined by other republican forces and
captured Baton Rouge, imprisoned the Governor and on September 23, 1810 raised their Bonnie Blue flag over the
Fort of Baton Rouge. Three days later the president of the West Florida Convention, signed a Declaration of
Independence and the flag became the emblem of a new republic. By December 10, the flag of the United States
replaced the Bonnie Blue after President Madison issued a proclamation declaring West Florida under the
jurisdiction of the Governor of the Louisiana Territory. With this rebellion in mind, this flag was used by the Republic
of Texas from 1836 to 1839.

The single star stood only for the state/republic that the flag flew over. Keep in mind that as the Lone Star flags
began to appear late 1860 (as depicted in the article from the Charleston Mercury), that star stood only for the state
it flew in. No one was even remotely thinking of a CSA back then - only seperate republics, which is what the first
seven seceeding states declared themselves upon secession. This was to avoid violating the US Constitution's
prohibition of "no two states shall enter into a compact with each other."

New nations require new flags, and this brought about the creation of state flags for many of the secceeding states.

The Lone Star concept was twofold. Some states looked at it as a reversal of the US Flag Act of 1818, which is still in
effect today. That allows a new star to be added to the flag the 4th of July following the admission of a new state to
the Union. Hence, some states looked at single star flags as "taking their star out of the Union".

The states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisana, having been a part of the old Republic of West Florida, may have
been inspired by that flag to create single star flags for their own republics since thay had a historical connection.
The Mississippi and Louisiana flags were officially adopted. Alabama's was only a secession banner.

Not all Lone Star flags were blue. Many were of other colors as were the stars. But it was the single star depiction
that ties them all together.

The Confederate government did not adopt this flag but the people did and the lone star flags were adopted in some
form in five of the southern States that adopted new flags in 1861.

In A War Time Journal of a GA Girl by Andrews, she records that her home made Bonnie Blue flag represented the
Southern Cause. In the context of secession many states used variations of Bonnie Blue flags to show their
independence, but many of these states also had another republic flag, so it seems like the Bonnie Blue represented
to the Southerners of the 1860's unity in their independence. Just like the rectangular Battle flag with 13 stars
represents the Old South today, the Bonnie Blue represented "the south" to the people in the war.

When Mississippi's Ordinance of Secession was signed on 9 January 1861, it was marked by a ceremony in which
the 'Bonnie Blue Flag' was raised over the capitol building in Jackson. Among those who witnessed the event was an
Irish comedian named Harry Macarthy, who shortly after wrote and performed the famous song, 'The Bonnie Blue
Flag'. (The song "The Bonnie Blue Flag" was just as popular as Dixie in the early 1860's).


The Bonnie Blue Flag
We are a band of brothers and native to the soil
Fighting for the property we gained by honest toil
And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!

Hurrah!
Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

As long as the Union was faithful to her trust
Like friends and brethren, kind were we, and just
But now, when Northern treachery attempts our rights to mar
We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

Hurrah!
Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

First gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand
Then came Alabama and took her by the hand
Next, quickly Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida
All raised on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

Hurrah!
Hurrah!
For Southern rights, hurrah!
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

Ye men of valor gather round the banner of the right
Texas and fair Louisiana join us in the fight
Davis, our loved President, and Stephens statesmen are
Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

And here's to brave Virginia, the Old Dominion State.
With the young Confederacy at length has linked her fate.
Impelled by her example, now other States prepare
To hoist on high the Bonnie Blue flag that bears a single star.

Then here's to our Confederacy, strong we are and brave,
Like patriots of old we'll fight, our heritage to save.
And rather than submit to shame, to die we would prefer
So cheer for the Bonnie Blue flag that bears a single star.

Then cheer, boys, cheer, raise a joyous shout
For Arkansas and North Carolina now have both gone out;
And let another rousing cheer for Tennessee be given
The single star of the Bonnie Blue Flag has grown to be eleven!

(There were 2 additional verses added later as new states joined the Confederacy).


                                                                                     
 Back