At the request of Pensacola City Manager Tom Bonfield, the Sons of Confederate Veterans compiled extensive historical documentation for review by the ad-hoc flag committee chaired by U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier. This documentation was provided to the committee in May, and a formal presentation was given July 6 at Pensacola Junior College. The findings of this research calls into question many longstanding historical opinions concerning Pensacola's role in the War Between the States.
While the so-called First National Confederate flag, or Stars and Bars, was approved by a flag committee of the Provisional Confederate Congress in March 1861, no formal vote to adopt this flag was ever taken by the elected Confederate Congress. The first legally adopted Confederate flag was the Second National or Stainless Banner, which includes the Confederate battle flag. The flag was formally adopted by the Confederate Congress on May 1, 1863. A Pensacola printed wartime photograph with this flag as been presented to the committee.
The Official Records of the War of Rebellion indicate that Confederate battle flags of the Sixth and Seventh Alabama Cavalry were captured by Union forces at the battles of Fort Hodgson and Canoe Creek in northern Escambia County in 1863 and 1865. One of the captured battle flags is on display in the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery.
In 1863, the Florida legislature approved an amended charter for the City of Pensacola that established a local Confederate government-in-exile in Greenville, Alabama. The City Board of Aldermen met and conducted governmental business, including elections, in Greenville until the end of the war. The amended charter stated, "all acts done by the Mayor, or under the direction of the board shall be as valid as though performed within the corporate limits of Pensacola." Greenville remained under Confederate control for the duration of the war.
Documented research states that the corporate limits of Pensacola were evacuated by Union troops in March 1863. Federal troops burned most of Palafox Street, and buildings as far north as Romana and Tarragona Streets. While the Pensacola Bay forts continued under Union control, the City of Pensacola was abandoned by U.S. troops.
After March 1863, Confederate forces including the Six and Seventh Alabama Cavalry operated in and around the City of Pensacola. Official Union reports indicate as many as 300 Confederate cavalry troops under General James Clanton were in Pensacola during 1863. Where cavalry went, so did their regimental battle flags.
The civilian population of Pensacola was also affected by the tragedy of war. Federal officers reported that the citizens of Pensacola "strongly sympathized with the rebellion." Spanish consul Don Francisco Moreno, the "father of Pensacola" refused to leave Pensacola after the Union evacuation. He continued to "protect rebels in arms under the folds of the Spanish flag" according to a U.S. Army report of December 1863. Mr. Moreno was said to be "within the enemy's lines" in the same Union report."
In late 1863, the City of Pensacola had a Confederate military presence, a functioning Confederate government, a population in support of the Confederate cause, and was reported by the U.S. Army to be within Confederate lines. This hardly sounds like a city under control of United States forces. The "accepted historical fact" that Confederate control of Pensacola ended in May 1862 is simply not accurate according to historical records.
During this period, the legal flag of the Confederate States of America included a variation of the Confederate battle flag. The Confederate battle flag is the only historically correct and only legal flag of the Confederacy known to have flown over Pensacola during the War Between the States.
This research concerning Confederate Pensacola is little known and has not received adequate attention by historians. It is hoped the ad-hoc flag committee, City Manager Bonfield and the Pensacola City Council will carefully review this information. It is a history of Pensacola that deserves to be heard, not rewritten or forgotten.
Phillip White is the Public Relations Director, Florida Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Original content Copyright © 2000 by Connie Ward, Perpetrator. All rights reserved.August 2000