Happy Fourth of July! This weekend we'll all enjoy parades, picnics, fireworks and be surrounded by American flags. Although the 13 horizontal strips (with the red stripe always on the top and bottom) few will realize the pattern of the stars on the flag were not standardized until President Taft's administration issued an executive order to that effect in 1912. Prior, all that was required was the proper number of stars in the blue rectangle, officially called a "canton," and those patterns varied widely. Many were quite artistic. During the Civil War the stars on the flag increased by three due to the admission of Kansas, West Virginia and Nevada as states. Even after the South seceded from the Union, President Lincoln would not allow any stars to be removed from the U.S. flag.
The first national flag for the Confederate States was the "Stars and Bars." The southern states wished their flag also draw on the heritage of the American Flag and therefore it looked quite similar to the United States flag. This became a problem for commanders trying to identify their troops, especially at a distance and amidst the clouds of black powder smoke swirling an active battlefield. After much confusion at the First Battle of Manassas in 1861. General Johnson, the Confederate Commander-in-Chief at that time, then required each Confederate state to provide their own individual flags, but only Virginia did so. Later that year the Confederates adopted a "Battle Flag" that featured a large cross in red, white and blue, reminiscent of the British Union Jack, which today we refer to as the "rebel flag" and which was distinct from the U.S. flag on a battlefield.
Additional Civil War veterans buried at Union Cemetery, North Creek, not listed in earlier columns:
Cross, William S.
Born 1840, son of "A.J." (41 at the time of the 1860 Johnsburg census) and Susan Jane (Bromley). William was 20 in 1860 and served in Co. D of the 175th NYVI. Died May 24, 1924.