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History of the Stars and Bars by Orren Randolph Smith

History of the Stars and Bars
Orren Randolph Smith

Major Smith’s Own Story

When the Senators and Representatives of the seven Confederate States that had seceded February 1, 1861, met at Montgomery, Ala., the first business after organizing was to decide whether the new nation should have a new flag and new Constitution or fight under the "Stars and Stripes" and under the Constitution of the United States. The debate was short, both sides had strong arguments to offer. A new Constitution, composed of native white citizens, was adopted, and a committee was appointed to select a new flag. This committee advertised in the leading papers for designs of flags, to be sent to them at Montgomery. One of these went from Louisburg, N. C., where there was living a man, an original secessionist, who so hoped that the Confederacy would adopt a new flag and a new Constitution that be was ready with a design when the advertisement of "Flag Wanted" appeared. When this man, Orren Randolph Smith, was introduced by Gen. Julian S. Carr, commander-in-chief of the U. C. Y. of North Carolina, at their reunion in Norfolk, September, 1910, he told the story of his flag in the following words.

"Three times have I been a soldier at my country's call, twice fighting under the Stars and Stripes and once under the 'Stars and Bars.' While with Taylor, south of the Rio Grande, a unit in that proud army that never let an enemy touch our flag; in Utah with Albert Sidney Johnston, 1857-1858, I learned what the flag meant to the men who were willing to give their lives for 'Old Glory' every day and every hour in the day. A soldier's flag must be his inspiration. It stands for home, kindred and country ; it must be something more than a piece of bunting or the blending of bright colors.

"When at Sumter, that shot was fired that was heard around the world, T realized that a new country had been made and that the new nation must have a new flag, of the deepest, truest significance, to lead the 'Men in Gray' against the greatest odds and through the greatest difficulties that any soldiers have ever overcome since the world was made. The idea of my flag I took from the Trinity, 'Three in One.' The three bars were for the Church, State and Press. Red represented State, legislative, judiciary and executive; white for Church, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; red for press, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and liberty of press—all bound together by a field of blue (the heavens over all), bearing a Star for each State in the Confederation. The seven white stars, all the same size, were placed in a circle, showing that each State had equal rights and privileges irrespective of size or population. The circle, having neither head nor foot, stood for eternity, and signified 'You defend me and I'll protect you.' I had the flag all complete in my mind before the Confederate Congress advertised for models,, and when the advertisement appeared I went to my friend, Miss Rebecca Murphy (she is now Mrs. W. B. Winborne, of Wilson, N. C), and asked if she would make me a little flag, I'd tell her how. I tore the 'Bars and cut the Stars' and she sewed the stitches, and when finished the little flag was sent to Montgomery, with the suggestion that a star be added for each State that joined the Confederacy. The flag committee, as you all know, accepted the flag and named it 'The Stars and Bars.' They also adopted the suggestion, and it was not long before the flag bore eleven stars for the eleven Confederate States that voted for Jefferson Davis to be President. After the small flag was sent to Montgomery I bought dress goods from Barrow's store and asked Miss Rebecca to make me a large flag, 9 x 12 feet, for whether the flag committee accepted my model or not I was determined that one of my flags should be floating in the breeze. Splicing two tall saplings together, I made a pole one hundred feet high and planted it on the courthouse square at Louisburg, N. C. (where I was then living), and the flag was sent aloft on Monday, March 18, 1861, two months before North Carolina seceded. Over the Hag was floating a long blue streamer, like an admiral has on his ship when 'homeward bound,' and on this pennant I had stars for each State that had seceded and one for North Carolina, for though my State was still in the Union I knew she was 'homeward bound.' This was the first Confederate flag ever raised in the Old North State, and this is how the 'Stars and Bars' came into existence, 'Dixie's Flag' that floated over the bravest and hardest to wear out soldiers ever encountered in any war."

Miss Murphy, who made the two flags, married first Dr. Germain Watson, and secondly W. B. Winborne. Her sister, Miss Sally Ann, refused to sew on the flag, saying she was "for the Union" and meant to marry a Yankee officer, and she did marry James A. Miller, lieutenant U. S. A. But while Mr. Smith and Miss Rebecca made the flags, Miss Sallie Ann played on the piano and sang Southern songs. In 1904 Mrs. Winborne was living at Pine Tops, X. C, and she appeared before W. L. Dunn, a justice of the peace (be was also postmaster), and made affidavit to the making of the Confederate model and the large flag that was displayed in Louisburg. She is living today with her daughter, Mrs. II. T. Webb, on South Tarboro street, Wilson, X. C, and has become a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, for Mr. Smith said he wanted her to have a U. D. C. badge as it was "The Stars and Bars."

Orren Randolph Smith, History of the Stars and Bars (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1913), 7-9.


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