Romancing the Flag

Recently someone drew my attention to this representation of a Confederate flag bearer.  Bearing the rank of sergeant, he stands proud and perhaps even defiant, with a rather large flag behind him.

I noticed that something was off with that rather large flag.  It’s rectangular in shape … which is what the the Second Confederate Navy Jack is supposed to look like.  That’s right, people who march with those Confederate flags in rectangular shape are representing the Confederate Navy.  Surely this fellow’s not in the navy.

For reference, you can check out two of the flag bearers that inhabit the Simpson household …

Note that the flags in question are square (or nearly so), as per the regulations for the Army of Northern Virginia.

Now, I’m sure that there may have been a few rectangular versions of the Confederate Battle Flag among various regiments (the western theater comes to mind), but I doubt there were many.  You would think that such a fine piece of art would be historically accurate … unless the real target of the piece is a twentieth/twenty-first century image of what a Confederate should have looked like in our popular imagination.

That won’t do.  After all, if the objective here is to be historically accurate in representing and honoring Confederate heritage, then by all means one should be historically accurate.  Most of these banners carried by infantrymen were square in shape, so why not in this portrait?

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