The Museum of Southern History
Preserving the History, Ideals and Chivalry of the South.
4304 Herschel St., Jacksonville, Florida 32210
The Flags that have flown over Florida
At least sixteen flags have flown over Florida or parts of Florida. There have been flags of five countries: Spain, France, Great Britain, the United States and the Confederacy. There have been State flags; one as the symbol of Florida as a sovereign nation. And there have been flags of such acceptance as people were willing to accord them. Of one, no description is known to exist.
Second Spanish Occupation 1784-1821
Research indicated Spain had no truly national Flag in 1513, when Juan Ponce de Leon landed on Florida shores, but the Castle and Lion flag of the King was recognized as the flag of the country.
In 1785, King Charles III decreed the national flag would henceforth be the red and gold stripped ensign which flew when the United States acquired Florida from Spain.
The Burgundian Saltire, 1565-1763
United States 1821
The Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine and San Marcos de Apalache at St. Marks fly a white flag with the red Cross of Burgundy because that was among the Spanish flags used during the years of construction of the Castillo and its outpost. The white field is for Burgundy a French state; for the French nobility of Philip (Felipe I) and for the traditional color of French royalty. The knobby saltire, or X-shaped red cross, signifies the rough branches of the tree on which Saint Andrew, patron saint of Burgundy, was crucified, As with Spanish flags generally, the Burgundian apeared in a number of designs and colors. On religious occasions, the field was blue with images of the Virgin Mary in the quarters formed by the cross. On other ocasions, the Spanish coat of arms was added at the ends of the arms of the cross.
By 1845 when Florida was admitted to statehood, the custom was to add a star on the following 4th of July for each new state. Thus the United States flag gained a new star when Florida became a state on March 3, 1845. The star for Florida was added on July 4, 1845.
Confederate First National 1861-1863
The French flag flew over the short lived settlement of Fort Caroline near present day Jacksonville. The flags of France of the 1500s had lilies both on white and blue backgrounds but the flag flown in Florida surely was the gold lily on blue.
The first national flag of the Confederacy was used from March 1861 until May 1863, and was adopted without a formal vote. The circle of stars in a blue canton, combined with the three horizontal bars led to the nickname "Stars and Bars."
Great Britain 1763-1784
Confederate Battle Flag 1861-1865
By the English period in Florida, the mother country's flag was the Union flag of Great Britain, reflecting the merger of England and Scotland.
Confederate field commanders began using the square "Southern Cross" or "St. Andrews Cross" in the latter part of 1861. In 1863 a rectangular version without the white border, became the official Confederate naval jack. This later banner was also used as a battle flag in the western theater of the war.
Confederate Second National 1863-1865
Because of its rough similarity to the United States flag, the Confederate legislature officially replaced the "Stars and Bars" with a second national pattern in mid-1863. From May 1863 until March 1865, the official flag, sometimes called the "Stainless Banner," incorporated the design of the army's battle flag as a canton on a field of white cloth.
Confederate Third National 1865-
Since the large white field could be confused with a flag of truce or surrender, a vertical red bar was added to the flag in March 1865 during the closing weeks of the war, creating what is now called the third national pattern.