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Georgia Flags Prior to 1879 (U.S.)

Last modified: 2013-10-19 by rick wyatt
Keywords: georgia | rattlesnake |
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Flags prior to 1879

[Flag of Georgia (prior to 1879)] image by Dov Gutterman, 2 October 1998

[Flag of Georgia (prior to 1879)] image by Rick Wyatt, 10 October 1998

Please note that these flags were never officially adopted by act of legislature. As such they appeared with the state coat of arms on fields of red, blue and even white! The first officially adopted flag for Georgia was well after the Civil War was over.
Greg Biggs, 5 October 1998

Georgia did not adopt officially any state flag in the Civil War according to the records of the state legislature. Their first oficially adopted flag for the state came in the late 1800's. Some Georgia units, mostly on the company level, used state flags as their first battle flags, but these were done by the flag makers that did them rather than as a consequence of action by the state government. I have been through the purchasing records of the state and they did not buy state flags for the troops.
Greg Biggs, 3 December 2001

Colonial Flag

[Colonial Flag of Georgia] image by Paige Herring, 30 August 1998

There is very little information regarding Georgia's Revolutionary era flags. The only reference to the existence of a uniquely Georgian flag is a hypothetical re-creation based upon information acquired in Standards and Colors of the American Revolution [ric82]. The writer there stated that there was a blue military color captured by the British when Savannah surrendered in December of 1778.

This color has subsequently been lost to history. However, as Georgia favored flags of the rattlesnake variety, the re-creation of the color is not wholly impossible. This color, based on the assumptions of the author of the book, places the snake and motto "Dont Tread On Me" on the flag with the unit citation of the First Georgia Regiment in the canton. The proportion of the color is based on the standard forms of the day.

Paige Herring, 30 August 1998

Lone Red Star Flag (U.S. Arsenal, Augusta)

[Lone Red Star flag] image by Peter Krembs

The Georgia flag in question (white with a red lone star) was only flown over the captured U.S. Arsenal in Augusta, GA, when GA State Troops took command of the site in January, 1861. Other secession flags that included the state coat of arms on blue or white fields were also used. The star was in fact tilted a bit if I correctly recall. The flag today rests in the Augusta-Richmond County Museum in Augusta, GA.
Greg Biggs, 26 June 2002

Flag reports from the Secession Period

In documenting flags that flew in Georgia in the secession period of 1860-1861, I don't think I have come across any reports of an actual Bonnie Blue flag being flown in Georgia. Lone star flags and lots of Palmetto flags (which saw more use as a secession banner across the South than the Bonnie Blue flag ever did - but the latter had a hit song), and "colonial flags of Georgia" (some with rattlesnakes on them). If there was a lone star flag used in Georgia it was this one: white field with a red star. This flag was hoisted over the captured U.S. arsenal in Augusta, GA. when that was surrendered to the Georgia State Army (before the secession of the state I might add), and another of its type was hoisted in Milledgville - the then state capitol.

In my years of researching Southern flags, I find the Bonnie Blue flag to be more myth than fact - in terms of how many were actually used and where. Indeed, there were some that were made and flown, some being incorporated into the company level flags for Confederate units. But, if there was a Southern flag of secession that was widely used, it was the Palmetto flag of South Carolina. I have dozens of period newspaper reports listing the flying of Palmetto flags all over the South in late 1860 (and even in the North!!!) and well into 1861. This flag was, by far, THE flag of Southern secession.

Greg Biggs, 2 February 2001

From the Augusta Chronicle & Sentinel, dated February 3, 1861 comes this:
"The flag of Georgia was yesterday hoisted on the staff over the Custom House in this city...The flag is a very neat design, bearing the coat of arms of the state surmounted by stars; one for each seceding state, now numbering six - a place between each star is left to be filled in as fast as the Southern states secede, which, when the fifteen are out of the Union, will complete the circle. Over the whole is the All-seeing Eye. The flag is of white ground, all the stars are deep red, save that representing Georgia, which is sky blue, and in the ascendent."

Here is yet another Georgia secession flag from 1861. The state never adopted by act of legislature, an official state flag like several other Southern states did in 1861.

Greg Biggs, 30 June 2002

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