Heritage, Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2000 Page: 6
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Flag of the Twentieth Texas Infantry,
Galveston 1862. There was no one
Confederate flag, but more than a
dozen basic designs each with numerous
variations. The flag pictured is an
elaborate variant of the Confederate
First National flag pattern, best
known as the Stars and Bars.
ne would think that Texans have always cherished their historic flags. After all, the
state's most recognizable symbol is the Lone Star banner. Yet before the Civil War
it rarely occurred to Texans to save their flags for posterity. Only one Lone Star flag
from antebellum Texas still exists in the state, and it was obtained from Mexico. Three
Mexican flags from San Jacinto were preserved, but the government of the Republic gave
away the Texian battle flag from that memorable day.
After the Civil War, Texas became more firmly attached to the United States, and the
flags of the era reflect this. The Federal government insisted on uniformity in its colors,
which by the late 19th century played a lesser roll on the battlefield than in the 1860s. The
United States Army suppressed the Indians on the state's western frontier, so here and
there a significant unit or garrison flag has been preserved. Otherwise, individual flags are
rarely associated with historical events of the era-the cattle drovers, frontier sheriffs, Texas
Rangers, and oil barons had other symbols. In the 20th century only the Texas National
Guard has had many flags of historical significance to preserve.
However, plenty of historic Texas flags do still exist; they are mostly Confederate flags
from the Civil War. Relatively more Texans served in the Confederate army than in any other
fighting force, and every one of the dozens of Rebel units had its own flag, and usually
more than one. Even if Texans had not made a conscious effort to save their Confederate
flags, the sheer weight of numbers assured that many would still be around today. But the
veterans and their families were passionate about preserving the old flags as testaments to
the sacrifices, bravery, and honor of Texas' Civil War generation.
Just as those Texans labored to preserve their past, people today are beginning to
make concerted efforts to identify and preserve flags, which represent the roles all Texans
have played in the state's illustrious past.
Many are still inspired by the dramatic history
the Confederate flags of Texas represent
and devote time and effort to their study and
conservation. But other flags have captured
the imaginations of Texans as well. One of
the most popular exhibits at Fort Davis is the
simple guidon of a company of Buffalo soldiers,
and within the last year several significant
flags associated with African-American
troops who served on the Texas frontier have
been identified, and efforts are underway to
raise the money needed to preserve them.
Locating and conserving Mexican flags associated
with Texan history is another venue that should eventually yield rich rewards in
understanding the Hispanic experience.
Yet, no matter how diligent the effort to locate and preserve significant Texas flags,
there will always be more from the Confederate era than from any other, but most of those
saved are not mere testaments to the "Lost Cause." These colors were witness to some of
the most dramatic events in American history. While we may not always understand their
motives or beliefs, thousands of Texans were willing to die under those banners and for
that simple reason they deserve to be preserved. -Robert Maberry Jr., Ph.D.
HERITAGE * 6 * WINTER 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2000, periodical, Winter 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45388/m1/6/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.