Historic Flags of the Texas State Library and Archives
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Wool and cotton,
97.5 x 124 inches
More Online Exhibits:
Under the Rebel Flag: Life in Texas During the Civil War
Flag Captured off Tampa Bay, Florida
Thanks to Bruce Graetz, Senior Curator, Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee, for sharing research and information that made the identification of this flag possible.
This flag is inscribed on the white edge: "Captured by Moonlight after a long chase comenced near Tampa bay." Based on this notation, the flag was apparently taken by the crew of a Union ship from a captured Southern vessel along Florida’s central Gulf coast. Tampa Bay was an active area for Southern blockade-runners. These vessels are known to have flown a variety of different flag patterns; however, this example appears to be of a unique design. Alternatively, because of its somewhat similar appearance to the St. John's River flag (TSLAC 306-4062), one independent researcher has speculated that this flag could perhaps have originally been used in the Confederate artillery battery at Fort Brooke, Tampa, which was occupied by troops of the 2nd Florida Battalion. However, no documentation is known that substantiates this theory.
Whatever its origin, because the edge is also inscribed with the words, "Bill Long's Sales," it is believed that the flag eventually passed into the hands of William W. Long, a Philadelphia bar owner who exhibited a vast collection of curiosities in his "museum" in the years during and after the Civil War. Long’s collection was auctioned by his heirs in 1943, though the exact route by which the flag made its way to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission remains unknown. It was long misidentified as a Spanish-American War era flag.