This flag has a canvas sleeve and ties to slide over and attach to a pole (instead of grommets), in the fashion of Confederate battlefield flags.
This flag is the Confederate 1st National design, but with a distinctive star pattern. It is thought to have been sewn by Lee’s wife, Mary Custis Lee, and the couple’s daughters. The original is in the Museum of the Confederacy, located in Richmond. It’s in remarkably good condition to this day.
This flag was used to mark the General’s headquarters at any given time. The unusual star pattern would easily identify the headquarters as those of General Lee. The flag’s thirteen stars represent the eleven states of the Confederacy, along with Missouri and Kentucky, which remained in the Union but had powerful secessionist leanings.
The information we have indicates that Lee began using this flag in mid-1862, and continued flying it until late 1863 or early 1864. It was retired and replaced by the new 2nd National flag (adopted by the Confederacy in May of 1863). It was customary for the official Confederate National Flag to be flown by commanding officers, so Lee switched to a new flag issued by the Richmond Clothing Depot.
Lee’s distinctive flag was preserved by his family and is still well known today.
Robert E Lee’s birthday is January 19th, 1807, see our biography post.