The Alabama State Flag – Its Story

The Alabama State Flag was adopted by Act 383 of the Alabama state legislature on February 16, 1895.

It’s believed by many that the crimson saltire (a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross) on the Alabama State Flag was designed to resemble the blue saltire of the Confederate Battle Flag.  The Confederate Battle Flag was and is square shaped and, every now and then, the Alabama Flag is shown squared as well.

Alabama State Flag

The Alabama State Flag.

Fascinatingly, there has been an ongoing debate on the actual shape of the Alabama State Flag.  The authors of an article in National Geographic, published in 1917, expressed their opinion that because the Alabama Flag was based on the Confederate Battle Flag, it should be square.  However, 70 years later in 1987, the office of Alabama Attorney General Don Siegelman expressed a different opinion.  The Attorney General of Alabama concluded that the proper shape for the Alabama Flag should be rectangular, just as it had been portrayed on numerous occasions in various official publications.

Not only does the crimson saltire on the Alabama State Flag resemble the blue saltire Confederate Battle Flag, the saltire design also very much resembles several other flags flown in other nations on the other side of the world.  So is the Alabama Flag indistinguishable from the flag of Saint Patrick, which flag has been integrated into the Union Flag of the United Kingdom.  Also, some historians believe that the Alabama Flag owes its origins to a simplification of the Cross of Burgundy flag, which was used by the Spanish in the New Spain, and also was the basis of other military flags.

Alabama State Flag at U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Alabama State Flag at U.S. Space & Rocket Center in AL. Photo by “astrogrl.”

Another possible inspiration for the Alabama State Flag was the flag that was carried by the Alabama 7th Cavalry.  The regiment was the only Alabama regiment in Rucker’s Brigade that was commanded by Colonel Edmund Rucker of Tennessee, who would later command troops in Alabama as well.  The brigade flag consisted of a white background with a red saltire that was decorated with 13 blue/green stars upon it.  This particular flag was meant to be used as Colonel Rucker’s Color Guard.

The Alabama State Flag is currently held as part of the Alabama Civil War Period Flag Collection by the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

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