Nomenclature of Our Southern Armies

Sheet music cover for the piano piece entitled Beauregard's March, published by Miller & Beacham, Baltimore, c. 1861.
Sheet music cover for the piano piece entitled Beauregard’s March, published by Miller & Beacham, Baltimore, c. 1861.

The North Carolinians are called “Tar Heels;” South Carolinians, “Rice Birds;” Georgians, “Goober Grabbers;” Alabamians, “Yaller Hammers;” Texans, “Cow Boys;” Tennesseans, “Hog Drivers;” Louisianians, “Tigers;” Floridians, “Gophers;” Virginians, “Tobacco Worms;” Arkansians, “Tooth-picks;” Missourians, “Border Ruffians;” Kentuckians, “Corn Crackers;” and Mississippians, “Sand Lappers.” The Cavalry, “Buttermilk Rangers;” Infantry, “Webfoot.” A regiment of deserters from the Federal Army, kept behind by us to build forts, “Galvanized Rebs.” The Federals called us “Johnnies;” we called them “Yanks” and “Blue Bellies.”

Battles and Sketches of the Army of Tennessee, Journal of B. L. Ridley, Lieut. General A. P. Stewart’s Staff, C.S.A.

ἐν τούτῳ νίκα

Confederate soldiers and the new Southern Flag within the fallen Fort Sumter, South Carolina, April 1861; salted paper print, Gilder Lehrman Collection.
Confederate soldiers and the new Southern Flag within the fallen Fort Sumter, South Carolina, April 1861; salted paper print, Gilder Lehrman Collection.

The fourth day of March was an eventful day in the Provisional Capital of the Confederate States of America, as well as in Washington. At half past three P.M., on yesterday, the Flag of the Confederate States of America was flung out to the breeze from the staff of the Capitol and as its proud folds gradually unclosed, it seemed to wave defiance to the Northern wind that came rushing down from the Potomac laden with threats of Abolition coercion. A large concourse of spectators had assembled on Capitol Hill, and the number would doubtless have been trebled had it been possible to have given an earlier announcement of the ceremony, Miss L.C.T. Tyler, one of the fair descendants of the Old Dominion, and a granddaughter of the venerable Ex-President of the late United States, had been selected to perform the principal part upon this occasion. When the time had arrived for raising the banner, Miss Tyler steadily and with heart throbbing with patriotic emotion, elevated the flag to the summit of the staff, cannon thundered forth a salute, the vast assemblage rent the air with shouts of welcome, and the people of the South had for the first time a view of the Southern flag. Ere there was time to take one hasty glance at the national ensign, the eyes of all were upturned to gaze at what would perhaps at any time have attracted unusual attention; but on this occasion seemed really a Providential omen. Scarcely had the first report from the salute died away, when a large and beautifully defined circle of blue vapor rose slowly over the assemblage of Southern spirits there assembled to vow allegiance to the Southern banner, rested for many seconds on a level with the Flag of the Confederate States, then gradually ascended until lost in the gaze of the multitude. It was a most beautiful and auspicious omen, and those who look with an eye of faith to the glorious future of our Confederacy, could not but believe that the same God that vouchsafed to the Christian Emperor the cross in the heavens as a promise of victory, had this day given to a young nation striving for Liberty a Divine augury of hope and national durability.

The Flag of the Confederate States was the work of the Committee appointed by Congress, none of the designs sent by individuals as models having been thought suitable. It consists of three bars of red and white. The upper red, middle white, and lower red. The lower bar extends the whole width of the flag, and just above it, next to the staff on the upper left hand corner of the flag is a blue Union with the seven stars in a circle. The design is simple, easily recognized, and sufficiently distinct from the old Gridiron. Long may it wave over a free prosperous and United people.

Montgomery Weekly Advertiser, 6 March 1861.

Our Cause Is Just and Holy

Confederate Second National Flag carried by the Consolidated 6th & 7th Arkansas Infantry Regiment.
Confederate Second National Flag carried by the Consolidated 6th & 7th Arkansas Infantry Regiment.

Come, all ye sons of freedom, and join our Southern band,
We are going to fight the Yankees and drive them from our land.
Justice is our motto and providence our guide,
So jump into the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

Secession is our watchword, our rights we all demand;
To defend our homes and firesides, we pledge our hearts and hands;
Jeff Davis is our president, with Stephens by his side;
Brave Beauregard, our General, will join us in the ride.

Our wagon is the very best, the running gear is good;
Stuffed ’round the sides with cotton, and made of Southern wood.
Carolina is the driver, with Georgia by her side,
Virginia holds the flag up, and we’ll all take a ride.

There are Tennessee and Texas also in the ring;
They wouldn’t have a government where cotton wasn’t king.
Alabama and Florida have long ago replied;
Mississippi and Louisiana are anxious for the ride.

Old Lincoln and his Congressmen with Seward by his side,
Put old Scott in the wagon just for to take a ride.
McDowell was the driver, to cross Bull Run he tried,
But there he left the wagon for Beauregard to ride.

Manassas was the battleground. the field was fair and wide;
They Yankees thought they’d whip us out, and on to Richmond ride;
But when they met our “Dixie” boys, their danger they espied;
They wheeled about for Washington, and didn’t wait to ride.

The Tennessee boys are in the field, eager for the fray;
They can whip the Yankee boys three to one, they say;
And when they get in conflict with Davis by their side,
They’ll pitch into the Yankee boys and then you’ll see them slide.

Our cause is just and holy, our men are brave and true;
We’ll whip the Lincoln cutthroats is all we have to do.
God bless our noble army; in Him we all confide;
So jump into the wagon and we’ll all take a ride.

The Southern Wagon (1861).

Our Just Rights Will Be Respected

…wherever the voice of justice and humanity can be heard, our declaration, and our just rights will be respected. But the blood which flows in our veins, like the tributary streams which form and sustain the father of rivers, encircling our delightful country, will return if not impeded, to the heart of our parent country. The genius of Washington, the immortal founder of the liberties of America, stimulates that return, and would frown upon our cause, should we attempt to change its course.

— Fulwar Skipwith, 1st (and only) Governor of the Republic of West Florida,
Inaugural Address,  1810.

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On 23 September 1810, after meetings beginning in June, rebels overcame the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge and unfurled the flag of the new republic: a single white star on a blue field. This flag was made by Melissa Johnson, wife of Major Isaac Johnson, the commander of the West Florida Dragoons. It would later become known as the “Bonnie Blue Flag.”

The boundaries of the Republic of West Florida included all territory south of the 31st parallel, west of the Perdido River, and east of the Mississippi River, but north of Lake Pontchartrain. The southern boundary was the Gulf of Mexico. It included Baldwin and Mobile counties in what is now Alabama; the Mississippi counties of Hancock, Pearl River, Harrison, Stone, Jackson, and George, as well as the southernmost portions of Lamar, Forrest, Perry, and Wayne counties; and the Louisiana parishes of East Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Washington. Despite its name, none of present-day Florida lies within its borders. The capital of the Republic of  West Florida was St. Francisville in present-day Louisiana, on a bluff along the Mississippi River.

On 27 October 1810, West Florida was annexed to the United States by proclamation of President James Madison, who claimed it as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Initially, Skipwith and the government of West Florida were opposed to the proclamation, preferring to negotiate terms to join the Federal Union as a separate state. However, William C. C. Claiborne, who was sent to take possession, refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the West Florida government. Skipwith and the legislature reluctantly agreed to accept Madison’s proclamation.

* * *

Born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, Fulwar Skipwith was a distant cousin of Thomas Jefferson. Skipwith studied at the College of William & Mary, but left at age 16 to enlist in the army during the American Revolution. He served at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. After American Independence was achieved, he entered the tobacco trade.

Following the French Revolution of 1789, Skipwith was appointed US Consul to the French colony of Martinique in 1790. He experienced the turmoil of the revolution, and the aftermath of the abortive slave insurrection in Martinique before departing in 1793. In 1795,  he was appointed Consul-General in Paris under Ambassador James Monroe.

The First Cabinet (1861)

The original Confederate Cabinet. L-R: Judah P. Benjamin, Stephen Mallory, Christopher Memminger, Alexander Stephens, LeRoy Pope Walker, Jefferson Davis, John H. Reagan and Robert Toombs.
The first Cabinet of the President of the Confederate States of America, assembled at Montgomery, Alabama (1861). L-R: Judah P. Benjamin, Stephen Mallory, Christopher Memminger, Alexander Stephens, LeRoy Pope Walker, Jefferson Davis, John H. Reagan, and Robert Toombs.

First Confederate Capitol

A view of the Alabama Capitol, in Montgomery, in 1886. This building also served as the first capitol of the Confederate States of America from 4 February 1861 until 29 May 1861, when the Confederate capital was removed to Richmond, Virginia. Two sessions of the Provisional Congress were held in Montgomery, adjourning May 21. The Permanent Constitution was adopted there on 12 March 1861.

Independent Now and Forever

On 11 January 1861, the Alabama Secession Convention passed a resolution designating a flag designed by a group of Montgomery women as their official flag. This flag has often been referred to as the Flag of the Republic of Alabama. On the obverse side of the flag is depicted the Goddess of Liberty holding in her right hand an unsheathed sword; in her left a small flag with one star. In an arch above this figure were the words “Independent Now and Forever.” On the reverse side of the flag was a cotton plant with a coiled rattlesnake. Beneath the cotton plant are the Latin words: “Noli Me Tangere” (Touch Me Not). This flag was flown until 10 February 1861, when it was removed to the Governor’s Office after having been damaged by severe weather. It was never flown again.