2nd Florida Gettysburg Flag
Posted By: Ryan Toews
The flag the 2nd Florida lost at Gettysburg is something of a mystery. Daisy Parker's article "Battle Flags of Florida Troops in Confederate Service", Apalachee, No 3 (1948-1950) describes the lost flag as "a silk one 'presented by the ladies'. It was the Confederate battle flag with one addition - an intersection of the cross in the center of the flag surrounded by a golden sun burst."
The second description is on page 178 of Rollins "The Damned Red Flags of the Rebellion" where the flag is described as "a beautiful silk flag bearing a rising sun with the inscription 'Williamsburgh' and 'Seven Pines'".
In postings on this message board the 2nd Florida flag has also been described as being made of "blue silk". This would seem to preclude the flag from being a battle flag as Parker has mentioned, but it has been suggested that this flag may have been a two-sided flag, blue silk on one side and the St. Andrew's cross on the other.
Now consider the following. On page 82 of Glenn Dedmondt's "The Flags of Civil War North Carolina" is an illustration of the flag of Manly's NC Battery. This flag has a red field with a plain white St Andrew's cross. In the intersection of the arms of the cross is a blue shield with a yellow 8 pointed "sun". The accompanying text describes this flag as the pattern recommended to the Confederate Congress in April 1862 by the Joint Committee on Flag and Seal. In the end this flag was never adopted, but it would seem that the makers of the Manly's Battery flag had already completed a flag of this type. Dedmondt dates the presentation of this flag to the battery at around late April 1862.
The "Charleston Mercury" carried an article with a picture of the proposed new National flag on 21 April 1862. It is possible the makers of the 2nd Florida flag saw this article and they used it as the pattern for a new flag being made for the 2nd Florida. The battle honours "Williamsburgh" and "Seven Pines" suggest that the flag was presented either just before (the honours were added to the new flag in the field) or after (the honours were added by the flag makers) these engagements. In both cases the flag would date shortly after April 1862.
Admittedly, apart from the use of a "sun" at the intersection of a St Andrew's cross there is not much to connect this pattern of flag to the flag of the 2nd Florida. However, a Florida link does perhaps exist. The flag of the combined 1st and 3rd Florida has several similarities to the Manly's Battery flag. It has a red field and a white St Andrew's cross. It also has a shield at the intersection of the cross's arms, although in this case it is a red shield that has a white star in it instead of a sun. The battle honours on the flag are all similar in style, leading to the conclusion that they all date from after Jonesboro, the last of these honours. Thus the flag could conceivably date from a much earlier time.
Therefore, given that at least one Florida flag seems to exhibit some of the characteristics of the proposed National flag, is it possible that the flag of the 2nd Florida also followed this pattern? While this is something that can only be proven if and when more details on the 2nd Florida flag are discovered it hopefully does provide some food for thought.
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