UCV Flag - Early United Confederate Veterans Flag in the rectangular format of the design most commonly referred to as the Confederate battle flag or the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, bearing the Southern Cross and 13 stars. The flag measures approximately 16 3/4" x 11 5/8" and the pole measures 32" long.
The United Confederate Veterans was an association formed in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 10, 1889, by veterans of the Confederate States Army and Navy. There had been numerous local veterans associations in the South, and many of these became part of the UCV. The organization grew rapidly throughout the 1890s culminating with 1,555 camps represented at the 1898 reunion. The next few years marked the zenith of UCV membership, lasting until 1903 or 1904, when veterans were starting to die off and the organization went into a gradual decline.
The UCV felt it had to outline its purposes and structure in a written constitution, based on military lines. Members holding appropriate UCV "ranks" officered and staffed echelons of command from General Headquarters at the top to local camps (companies) at the bottom. Their declared purpose was emphatically nonmilitary - to foster "social, literary, historical, and benevolent" ends.
The national organization assembled annually in a general convention and social reunion, presided over by the Commander-in-Chief. These annual reunions served the UCV as an aid in achieving its goals. Convention cities made elaborate preparations and tried to put on bigger events than the previous hosts. The gatherings continued to be held long after the membership peak had passed and despite fewer veterans surviving, they gradually grew in attendance, length and splendor. Numerous veterans brought family and friends along too, further swelling the crowds. Many Southerners considered the occasions major social occasions. Perhaps thirty thousand veterans and another fifty thousand visitors attended each of the mid and late 1890 reunions, and the numbers increased. In 1911 an estimated crowd of 106,000 members and guests crammed into Little Rock, Arkansas—a city of less than one-half that size. Then the passing years began taking a telling toll and the reunions grew smaller. But still the meetings continued until in 1950 at the sixtieth reunion only one member could attend, 98-year-old Commander-in-Chief James Moore of Selma, Alabama. The following year, 1951, the United Confederate Veterans held its sixty-first and final reunion in Norfolk, Virginia, from May 30 to June 3. Three members attended: William Townsend, John B. Salling, and William Bush. The U.S. Post Office Department issued a 3-cent commemorative stamp in conjunction with that final reunion.
There were many Confederate flag designs and almost uncountable variations. Many people are surprised to learn that this particular one, which is by far the most readily identified in modern times, was not the national flag of the Confederate States of America. There were three different national flags over the course of the war, all of which were carried in battle by various units, in addition to many other styles. Today "The Confederate Battle Flag", as it is often called, is the most recognized format, probably because it was carried by General Lee's Army and perhaps because it was the design best loved by soldiers. It was certainly the most widely used flag in veteran's reunions, and has been further popularized in movies and elsewhere in American culture.
Inventory Number: FLA 005