Tuesday, September 10, 2013

THE FLAGS OF TEXAS





Most people have heard of Six Flags Over Texas, a fun theme park that opened in the summer of 1961. Through the years it's been the home for the first log flume ride, the Runaway Mine Train roller coaster, and the Texas Cliffhanger, the first freefall ride. Great fun, but not the focus of my post today.
















Six flags of government have flown over Texas, Spain (from 1519 to1685), France (from 1685 to 1690), Spain (from 1690 to 1821), Mexico (from 1821 to 1836), Republic of Texas (from 1836 to 1845), United States (from 1845 to 1861), Confederate States (from 1861 to 1865), and United States from 1865 to the current period. These are interesting because they got us where we are today.

The ones I want to share, though, are the lesser known flags of Texas Independence from 1835-1836. Since there are twelve flags in this time period, I'll divide them up into two segments. The following descriptions are used in whole or in part from, http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/indepenflgs.htm. All attempts will be made to give credit where credit is due.


 
The first Flag of the Fredonion Rebellion.

Empresario Hayden Edwards contracted with the Republic of Mexico to settle 800 families in East Texas. Article 2 of his contract stated that "all those possessions which are found in Nacogdoches and its vicinity, with corresponding titles shall be respected by the colonists; and it shall be the duty of the empresario, should any of the ancient possessors claim the preservation of their rights, to comply with this condition."

Edwards proceeded to force settlers, both Anglo and native Hispanics, to move or pay him for their land. The Mexican government canceled his contract. In response to the cancellation, Edwards made an alliance with Cherokee Indians represented by John Dunn Hunter and Richard Fields and declared the "Republic of Fredonia" independent of Mexico under the banner shown. The two colors are thought to symbolize the alliance. Inscribed also in the white field were names of key participants in the alliance. After he failed to rally a significant number of Anglo settlers in the Austin, DeWitt, DeLeon colonies and other areas of Texas, he abandoned the cause and returned to the United States. The flag was said to have been displayed later at rallies for Texas independence in 1835.


Next is the Flag of the Harrisburg Volunteers.

This banner was carried by volunteers comprising Capt. Andrew Robinson's company from Harrisburg and designed by Sarah Rudolph Bradley Dodson in Sep 1835 for her husband, 1st Lt. A.B. Dodson and colleagues. Mrs. M. Looscan in her article in Wooten's Comprehensive History of Texas, who claimed her information came from Mr. Dodson who was still living in Alice, Nueces Co, TX in 1896, describes the red, white and blue flag at left, but with the star, said to be copied from an old military coat button or seal, in a blue field next to the staff. According to Dodson she related that the flag was flown by the company in the Siege and Battle of Bexar.
 
According to Creed Taylor in Tall Men with Long Rifles, this flag was "of ordinary solid color 'calico'-tri-colored, red, white and blue, emblazoned with a five-pointed white star, set in the red background, the three color bars being set perpendicular, or upright, the red, with the star next to the flagstaff......was much in evidence on the march from Gonzales to San Antonio, being borne by Second Lieutenant James Ferguson. I remember seeing this flag at our camp on the Cibolo, and I think it was carried on to Concepcion....I have heard it was left in the Alamo....and that fragments...were found among the ruins after the fall of the fortress."

Historian John Henry Brown states that this banner was flown at the Texas Independence Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos beginning 1 March 1836 before the fall of the Alamo. This flag employing red, white and blue stripes with the single star is the earliest flag most similar in color and number of stripes to the Lone Star flag of today while retaining the broad vertical stripes similar to the motif of the Mexican tri-color. Absent was the color green and other symbols of the Mexican Republic.



Scott's Flag of the Liberal Faction.

As dictatorial acts contrary to the liberal Mexican Constitution of 1824 by the centralista dictatorship began to mount, the number of Texans known as the Liberal Faction or War Party increased while the Conservatives rallied under the Mexican flags of 1824 hoping for a peaceful settlement with their adopted government and a return to the principles of local self-determination. This banner was apparently the earliest symbol of those who had abandoned hopes for reconciliation. A banner of similar color and design without the lettering was first used in 1810 when American frontiersmen rebelled against Spanish authorities at Baton Rouge in Spanish West Florida. Although never official, this design became famous as "The Bonnie Blue Flag" symbol in the Confederate States of America after secession in 1861.

 

Brown's Flag of Independence. This flag is said to have been designed by Capt. William S. Brown at Velasco in fall 1835 preceding Capt. Dimmitt's bloody-arm flag with which it has been commonly confused since it employs the same symbol (see Origin of the Bloody Arm Symbol). Which came first is uncertain, but it is likely that one influenced the other. This banner may have been flown by Capt. Brown and his men at the Battle of Bexar and with him when he went to Goliad after the battle where he was a signer of the Goliad Declaration of Independence. Although Capt. Dimmitt's flag is thought to be the primary one at the ceremonial announcement of the declaration, the Brown flag was probably present and may have also been displayed. References to the fact that Brown's flag was first unfurled at Goliad may refer to the simpler Dimmitt flag consisting of only the arm and knife on a field of white. Afterwards Brown also went to San Felipe where the banner was again said to be unfurled prior to his return home to Velasco.
There it may have been flown in front of the American Hotel on 8 Jan 1836 along with the Troutman flag of the Georgia Battalion. Author John Henry Brown (History of Texas) stated "Over the cabin in which the convention met and declared for independence, floated a flag with the design of a sinewy hand grasping a red sword, and underneath this was a lone star flag." Mamie Wynne Cox in Romantic Flags of Texas says "As Captain Brown's Flag was the only banner carrying a design of a bloody sword, this could have been none other than his." Cox describes the Brown flag as a large deep blue field in the upper left corner, in which is a white arm grasping a sword fromt he point of which is dripping blood. The flag has thirteen stripes, seven red and six white with the word INDEPENDENCE in the third white stripe from the top. Author Brown's description does not clearly describe either of the two "bloody arm" flags or the lone star flag. He appears to be referring to two flags on the same pole, although it could even have been a composite single banner. (Image adapted from Gilbert, Flags of Texas)


Dimmit's Goliad Flag. This militant and defiant banner, designed by Goliad garrison commander, Capt. Phillip Dimmitt, dramatically reflected the political shift of Texians and Capt. Dimmitt away from support of the independent statehood of Texas in the Mexican Federalist Republic and return to the Constitution of 1824 to support of complete separation from Mexico as an independent Republic. Before he returned from the Siege and Battle of Bexar to Goliad in the middle of Dec 1835, Capt. Dimmitt was an avid Mexican Federalist and opposed to separation which was symbolized in the 1824 Mexican tri-color which is also thought to be of his own design. Dimmitt's bloody arm flag was said to have been raised ceremonially on Dec 20 upon the signing of the Goliad Declaration of Independence as the official flag of the occasion although the banners of companies of Capt. William S. Brown and Capt. William Scott were also present at Goliad at the time.
Which banner was actually flown over the Goliad garrison is the subject of controversy and comment by historians. Mary Agnes Mitchell in First Flag of Texas Independence cites memoirs of participants John James and Nicholas Fagan "The Goliad flag was made personally by Captain Dimmitt himself....It was of white domestic, two yards in length and one in width, and in the center was a sinewy arm and hand, painted red, grasping a drawn sword of crimson.....The flagpole was made from a tall sycamore which was procured from the woods along the banks of the San Antonio River.....The flagstaff was in the yard of the quadrangle opposite the entrance to the officers' quarters." Dimmitt's flag flew over the ramparts of Goliad through 10 Jan 1836 when Dr. James Grant and the Federalist Volunteers of Texas forced its removal with threat of violence and which caused the subsequent exit of Col. Dimmitt and those loyal to him from the garrison. The banner is thought to have exited with them. The motivation behind Dimmitt's use of the bloody arm symbol is unclear as was whether he acquired it independently or simply under influence of the Brown flag which employed the same symbol (see Origin of the Bloody Arm Symbol).


 Troutman Goliad Flag. This flag was designed in Nov 1835 by Johanna Troutman, sometimes called the Betsy Ross of Texas. When the Georgia Battalion of Volunteers under Captain William Ward marched from Macon to Columbus, GA on their way to Texas in response to an appeal for aid for Texas by Col. Fannin, Miss Troutman (daughter of Col. C.A. Troutman of Knoxville, GA and later Mrs. Pope), presented the troop with the flag to carry with them. According to Mrs. Looscan, the banner was of white silk with an azure star on both sides.
On one side was the words Ubi libertas habitat ibi nostra patria est--"Where Liberty Dwells, There is my Home" in Latin, on the other side was the letters indicated. Author John Henry Brown says that the flag was flown at the American Hotel in Velasco in Jan 1836 upon the arrival of the Georgia Battalion in Texas and some have claimed it also flew at the Texas Independence convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos. However, it was said to have been taken to and flown at Goliad by Col. Fannin. Guy M. Bryan in a speech before the Texas Veterans Association in 1873 "The Georgia battalion flag was azure, lone star, five points, in white field. This flag was raised as national flag on the walls of Goliad by Fannin when he heard of the Declaration of Independence." The flag was thought to have been destroyed in haste to get it down upon retreat from the garrison at Goliad.

I hope you've enjoyed this post about a turbulent time in Texas history in the beginning fight for Texas Independence. I am passionate about my birth state and not bashful when it comes to sharing.

 
Thanks for visiting with Sweethearts of the West!

Carra
 





http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/dewittflgs2.htm


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8 comments:

  1. Texas is big, bold, and unwilling to take a backseat to anyone else, even when it comes to flags. :-D

    Carra, this was really interesting! I love it every time one of the Sweethearts posts something unexpected and fun (which is most of the time, actually). Thank you for sharing about the "other" flags of Texas. I learned something new! Woo-hoo! :-)

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  2. Thanks, Kathleen. I wasn't sure if this would be a good post for the Sweethearts, but decided to post it. There are six more flags I'll post next month to finish 1835-1836. Texas is big, bold, diverse and sometimes complicated. Love it!

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  3. Awesome information, Carra. I not only didn't know about the "Six Flags" but haven't ever seen any of them in pix. Thank you!

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  4. I love to read your posts about Texas, Carra. Very interesting. I'm waiting for the next post with the "Don't tread on me" flag. You should have mentioned you are a Daughter of Texas/

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  5. Carra--this is very interesting. The Six Flags over Texas are the official flags of other nations and the Republic of Texas. I've run across some of these others over time, but don't have them down in my memory very well.
    I'm a member of the DRT--for several years--and I love anything historical about Texas.
    Another tidbit is about the Lone Star Flag we've ended up with. It is said a woman in Georgia made the first one, specifically for the unit from Georgia that came to Texas to help fight for our Independence from Mexico.
    Some dispute this--but it has been written more than once.
    I wonder how many other states have so many flags!
    I love your post and your research is excellent.
    Thanks!

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  6. Thank you Celia, Caroline and Tanya, I appreciate your comments. I'm glad you liked the post. I knew it fascinated me when I came across it several months ago and wondered if the story would be of interest to others. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  7. Well, I certainly know who to go to with any questions about Texas, Carra. Aa a daughter of the great Republic, your love for Texas shines through all you do. Thanks for sharing this, and I look forward to the next installment. One of my favorite flags is the Come and Take It cannon flag. :))

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  8. LOL, Ashley. We all love Come And Take It. In the last few years, with folks talking about secession, I've seen it resurface. Yes,(hangs head, twisting a strand of hair)I do love my state. I'm counting on you to keep me in check and stop me before I go overboard!

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