Bonnie Blue Flag
The Bonnie Blue Flag was an unofficial banner of the Confederate States of America at the start of the American Civil War in 1861. It consists of a single, five-pointed white star on a blue field. The flag closely resembles that of the short-lived Republic of West Florida of 1810.
The flag was first used by the Republic of West Florida, which broke away from Spanish West Florida in September 1810 and was annexed by the United States 90 days later. In 2006, the state of Louisiana formally linked the name "Bonnie Blue" to the West Florida banner by passing a law designating the Bonnie Blue Flag as "the official flag of the Republic of West Florida Historic Region".
When the state of Mississippi seceded from the Union in January 1861, they adopted the Republic of West Florida Flag as many had ties to the West Florida rebellion. A flag bearing a single white star on a blue field was flown from the capitol dome. Harry McCarthy helped popularize this flag as a symbol of the Confederacy by writing the words to the popular song "The Bonnie Blue Flag" early in 1861. Some seceding southern states incorporated the motif of a white star on a blue field into new state flags.
The "Bonnie Blue Flag" was used as an unofficial flag during the early months of 1861. It was flying above the Confederate batteries that first opened fire on Fort Sumter, beginning the Civil War. The Van Dorn battle flag was also carried by Confederate troops fighting in the Trans-Mississippi and Western theaters of war. In addition, many military units had their own regimental flags they would carry into battle.
In 2007, one of six known Bonnie Blue flags from the Civil War era was sold at auction for $47,800. The flag had been carried by the Confederate 3rd Texas Cavalry and later exhibited as part of the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition.
In popular culture
In the novel Gone with the Wind (1936) by Margaret Mitchell and the 1939 film version, Rhett Butler nicknames his newborn daughter "Bonnie Blue Butler" after Melanie Wilkes remarks that her eyes will be "as blue as the bonnie blue flag."
The Bonnie Blue flag is similar in design to a few other official flags, although its conception is different. The flag of Somalia is almost identical, featuring a white star superimposed on a lighter blue background. The comparable flag of Vietnam features a yellow star set against a red backdrop. Similarly, the flag of the former Congo Free State and its successor the Belgian Congo had a yellow star affixed onto a dark blue field.
- William C. Davis, The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), p. 295.
- Jeanne Frois, Flags of Louisiana (Gretna, La: Pelican Pub. Co, 1995), p. 45.
- "2006 Louisiana Laws - RS 25:705 — Bonnie blue flag adopted". Justia US Law. Retrieved 2 Aug 2012.
- Jau Winik, "A New Flag for a New Mississippi," New York Times, Feb. 11, 2001, Week in Review section, p. 17.
- John Coski, The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (Harvard University Press, 2005), pp. 2–3.
- Heritage Auctions. "Rare Texas Confederate "Bonnie Blue" Flag of the 3rd Texas State Cavalry". Auction Web Press Release. ha.com. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind.
- Levitski, O.; Dumer, O. (Sep 2006). "Bestsellers: Color Symbolism and Mythology in Margaret Mitchell’s Novel Gone with the Wind". Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture.