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Historical State of Buenos Aires naval flags (Argentina 1852-1861)

1858 Le Gras French Album

Last modified: 2015-06-30 by francisco gregoric
Keywords: buenos aires | estado de buenos aires | provincia de buenos aires |
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About the "State of Buenos Aires"

After the battle of Caseros (February 3, 1852) the governor of Buenos Aires Province Juan Manuel de Rosas was overthrown by a combined army of non Rosist federalists, unitarians, Uruguayan and Brazilian forces commanded by the governor of Entre Ríos Province, Justo José de Urquiza. This army was known as the "Ejército Grande" (Big Army).

However, after the defeat of the common enemy (Rosas), the different factions of the Big Army became split each other. On september 11, 1852 the unitarians took the power in Buenos Aires. In this time, Urquiza was preparing the sanction of the National Constitution. When this sanction happened in 1853 in Santa Fe, the Province of Buenos Aires did not accept the new Constitution and became a de facto separated state. In 1854 Buenos Aires passed its own constitution adopting the name "Estado de Buenos Aires" (State of Buenos Aires). On the other side, the city of Paraná (at the Entre Ríos Province) became the capital city of the Argentine Confederation.

This situation of two separated states (the State of Buenos Aires ruled by unitarians on one side, and the Argentine Confederation with the rest of the Argentine provinces, ruled by non Rosist federalists on the other) lasted until the battle of Pavón in 1861, when Argentina was reunified as one country and the city of Buenos Aires became the capital city of the whole country.

During this period (1852-1861), the State of Buenos Aires used the same Argentine national flag, coat of arms, and anthem that the Argentine Confederation.
Francisco Gregoric , 26 Jun 2015


Flags in the 1858 Le Gras French Album

The caption [in the 1858 French Album des Pavillons by Le Gras] actually reads "Buenos Aires" with the note that the flags of Buenos Aires are at the same time also the flags of the Confederation of Argentina.
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014


I. Naval Ensign

[Naval Ensign of the State of Buenos Aires]
by Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

I. Naval Ensign. Blue-white-blue flag with sun next to the hoist. The description highlight that the sun is golden (presumably since the red sun versions were in use in the period as well, and cf. nr. VII below). It is stated that it is the ensign of the naval ships of the Buenos Aires Province, and also hoisted at forts and carried by the land army. Also, official ships fly the same ensign (presumably what we would call a government ensign). The ratio is given as 3:5 with the reference to the "Décret de 1814.", although the drawing shows is more like 2:3 (which I follow). The stripes are markedly darker blue (navy blue) then we are used to see in the Argetina flags, as usual in the period sources, I guess. I retain such darker blue. The sun design I use directly from Le Gras representation.
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

Red suns at center of the flags were used in the Buenos Aires Province until February 1852 by the federalist government of Juan Manuel de Rosas. The later "State of Buenos Aires" (from September 1852 to 1861) did not use red suns, but gold, because it was ruled by unitarians.

However although the unitarians usually liked to use a lighter shade of blue in the flags, in naval flags darker shades of blue were also used by unitarians. Therefore, I agree with the images of the Le Gras Album and with Željko's decision to use the darker blue.

Finally, although the Le Gras album mentions a "1814 Decree" there was not any 1814 decree or law about flags, neither in Buenos Aires, nor in Argentina.
Francisco Gregoric , 26 Jun 2015


II. Merchant Ensign

[Merchant Ensign of the State of Buenos Aires]
by Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

II. Merchant Ensign. Sunless blue-white-blue triband. Used by merchant ships.
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014


III. Command Flag

[Command Flag of the State of Buenos Aires]
by Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

Command Flag. Square (1:1) version of the naval ensign. Hoisted on the mainmast for the Governor and Captain General of the Province (while all other command insignia are replaced by the pennant - which I believe mean that on other masts the naval pennant is used while the governor flag is hoisted.) The same flag is used by a Brigadier General (equivalent to Captain General in rank) on mizzenmast on a brick, and on fore mast on a three masted ship.
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014


IV. Command Guidon

[Command Guidon of the State of Buenos Aires]
by Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

IV. Command Guidon. Swallow-tailed version of the naval ensign, the identation to the centre of the ca. 1:2 flag. Used by Colonel Major (Contre Admiral) and by Colonel (Naval Captain), for both stated it is hoisted form the main mast (it may be kind of a "copy & paste" error of the period).
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014


V. Command Triangle

[Command Triangle of the State of Buenos Aires]
by Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

V. Command Triangle. Triangular version of the naval ensign, in ratio 1:2. Used by appropriate ranks for all stated on the main mast: Lieutenant Colonel (Commander), Sargent Major (Lieutenant Commander) and Captain (Lieutenant)
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014


VI. Pilot Flag

[Pilot Flag of the State of Buenos Aires]
by Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

VI. Pilot Flag. Red and white diagonally divided flag in ratio ca. 6:7 (based on the drawing). Used by "Societé des Semainiers since their foundation" (whatever it was, presumably a pilots' association), hoisted from mizzen mast to call pilot.
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014


VII. National Pennant

[National Pennant of the State of Buenos Aires]
by Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

VII. National Pennant. Triangular long pennant in the national colours with the red sun (as explicitly mentioned in the description). Used by the naval ships unless appropriate command flag is hoisted. The "official ships" also may use it. It is depicted "disected", while fiddling with the shown parts it comes to a pennant in ratio ca. 1:20 - although this may be simply for conviniance of drawing - certainly, no ratio or dimensions are mentioned by Le Gras.
Željko Heimer, 11 Jul 2014

Red suns at center of the flags were used in the Buenos Aires Province until February 1852 by the federalist government of Juan Manuel de Rosas. The later "State of Buenos Aires" (from September 1852 to 1861) did not use red suns, but gold, because it was ruled by unitarians.
Francisco Gregoric , 26 Jun 2015


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