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The Confederate flag seen today on houses, bumper stickers and T-shirts – sometimes accompanied by the words “If this shirt offends you, you need a history lesson” – is not, and never was, the official national flag of the Confederacy.

The design by William Porcher Miles, who chaired the flag committee, was rejected as the national flag in 1861, overlooked in favor of the Stars and Bars.Confederate flag

The Confederate was instead adopted as a square battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee, the greatest military force of the Confederacy.

It fast became a potent symbol of Confederate nationalism.

The saltire – or diagonal cross – on the battle flag is believed to have been inspired by its heraldic connections, not any Scottish ones.

Since the end of the American Civil War, private and official use of the Confederacy’s flags, and of flags with derivative designs, has continued under philosophical, political, cultural, and racial controversy in the US. These include flags displayed in states, cities/towns/counties, schools/colleges/universities, private organizations/associations, and by individuals.