Historic Flags from the Texas State Library and Archives Texas Treasures Exhibit
Text by Robert Maberry, Jr. Historian.
The Historic Flags of Texas Project.
Click on each image for a larger view.
See more flags of Texas history from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in our Historic Flags of Texas online exhibit.
Guerrero Battalion Flag
This flag is a Mexican tricolor with the words "Pe. Batallon Guerrero" is inscribed. The abbreviation "Pe." stands for Permanente, which signifies standing or regular army. The unit that became the Guerrero Battalion was formed in 1823 as part of the Republic of Mexico's national army, and named for the Mexican revolutionary hero Vincente Guerrero in 1833. The Guerrero Battalion was a unit in Santa Anna's army that invaded Texas in 1836. At San Jacinto, Houston's army wrecked the Guerrero Battalion, seized its flag, and killed most of its men.
Matamoros Battalion Flag
This is a Mexican tricolor inscribed "Batallon Matamoros Permanente." Named for a hero of the Mexican Revolution, Mariano Matamoros, the battalion served with Santa Anna in his invasion of Texas. It was one of the units that stormed the Alamo. The Matamoros Battalion was at San Jacinto, where its flag was captured by Texas forces.
1st Texas Infantry, Hood's Brigade, Lone Star Flag
This is a Lone Star flag inscribed with the battle honors, "Seven Pines/Gaines Farm" in the blue canton, and "Elthams Landing/Malvern Hill" in the field. This very important flag was made by Lula Wigfall, daughter of the regiment's first colonel, Louis T. Wigfall, and was presented to the 1st Texas in the summer of 1861.
As the battle honors attest, the 1st Texas fought under this flag throughout the Peninsula Campaign. The Texans carried it through the Second Manassas fight in August 1862 and into Maryland during Lee's first invasion of the North. During the desperate Battle of Antietam, in Miller's cornfield on Lee's northern flank, the 1st Texas suffered 82.3 percent casualties -- the highest endured by any unit North or South during the entire war. In the course of the battle, nine brave Texas standard bearers fell carrying this flag. When the ninth was killed, the flag was lost -- picked up from among the dead bodies by a Pennsylvania private
1st Texas Infantry, Hood's Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) pattern battle flag (classic Saint Andrews cross on red field)
This flag was the companion to the Lone Star banner above. During the spring and summer of 1862, the Army of Northern Virginia began to issue factory-made battle flags. This flag is a variant of the so-called first bunting issue, and probably was meant by army commanders to be the official flag of the 1st Texas. The soldiers, however, continued to favor their state flag, but carried both into battle. The ANV flag was lost in Miller's cornfield at the same moment as the state flag, being picked up by the same Pennsylvania private. Both flags were relegated to the War Department after the war and languished until 1905 when President Theodore Roosevelt returned them to Texas as part of a gesture of national reconciliation.
17th and 18th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) Consolidated, Granbury's Texas Brigade
This is the finest Hardee battle flag (blue field with white ellipse) in existence. In 1863, the troops of Cleburne's Division had resisted instructions to replace their blue Hardee flags with the standard red Confederate battle flag. The division, however, had won such an outstanding reputation as fighters that army commanders allowed them to retain their distinctive flags for the rest of the war -- the only command in the Army of Tennessee so honored.
In November of 1863, the 17th and 18th Texas received its new flannel Hardee flag inscribed with the battle honors of the previous campaigns: "Arkansas Post," "Chickamauga," "Tunnel Hill," and "Ringgold Gap." During the Atlanta Campaign, Granbury's Brigade (including the 17th and 18th Texas) participated in some of the hardest fighting of the war. On July 22, 1864 at the Battle of Atlanta, while fighting in the Confederate front lines, the 17th and 18 Texas became cut-off, and nearly surrounded, forcing the surrender of a large number of its men. After a brief hand-to-hand struggle, the battle flag was taken by General William T. Clark. After the war, veterans of the 17th and 18th Texas made considerable efforts to locate the flag, which in 1914 was returned to Texas by Gen. Clark's widow.
6th Texas Infantry and 15th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) Consolidated, Granbury's Texas Brigade
This is a Hardee pattern battle flag, blue with white oval, within which is a Texas star. The 6th Texas Infantry and the 15th Texas Cavalry were two of a number of Texas regiments that were captured at Arkansas Post in January 1863. After they were exchanged, these regiments were assigned to Major General Pat Cleburne's Division of the Army of Tennessee. As a result of their captivity, all the regiments were severely understrength, and the cavalry units without horses. The various Texas regiments were consolidated, designated to fight as infantry, and eventually united in the same brigade under the command of Waco attorney Hiram Granbury.
Granbury's Brigade became one of the best units in the Army of Tennessee's best Division. Cleburne's Division saved the army from destruction after the Battle of Chattanooga, and fought Sherman's army to a standstill on numerous occasions during the Atlanta campaign. After the hard fighting of the Atlanta Campaign, the original Hardee battle flag of the 6th and 15th Texas was in tatters and was replaced by the present one in the fall of 1864. The regiments carried this flag through the bloody carnage at the Battle of Franklin, the disaster at the Battle of Nashville, and up to the final surrender in May 1865. Several Texans died carrying this flag and it is said the blood of some of them can still be seen on the cloth. Rather than surrendering the flag, Mark Kelton of the 6th Texas took it from its staff and carried it back to Texas. He donated the flag to the State Archives in 1885, where it has been stored ever since.
Walker's Texas Division Battle Flag
This flag, from an unidentified Texas regiment, is inscribed with battle honors "Mansfield, April 8th 1864" and "Pleasant Hill, April 9, 1864." This flag is important for two reasons. First, it was carried by a Texas unit in the two desperate Louisiana battles that turned back Union General Nathaniel Bank's Red River Expedition, thus saving east Texas from conquest. Second, it is one of only two so-called Taylor battle flags still in existence. [Taylor flags are named for General Richard Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, and Confederate commander in western Louisiana.] The Taylor flags are unusual because they are Saint Andrews cross rebel flags with the colors reversed, i.e. a blue field instead of the famous red field, and a red rather than blue cross with white stars.
Shield and Star Flag
This flag is from the Sixth Texas Cavalry Battalion (Gould's Battalion). It is an unusual variant of the Stars and Bars, with only a single large star in the canton containing eleven smaller stars. in the white bar of the field is a large shield with a star and the word "TEXAS" inscribed.