Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Bonnie Blue Flag


It may be news to some outside of Dixie, but there is a flag that has long been associated with people of Ulster ancestry in the New World. This flag is of course the lone star flag, which dates to 11 September, 1810. After the American Revolutionary War, Spain regained control of the territory of West Florida, which is located today in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida.


American and British settlers flooded into this area and most of these families were of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry, with the majority being of Ulster ancestry. These people are described as Anglo-Celts by some historians, but usually they are just called Scots-Irish. They resented rule from Spain, I suspect knowing these people as I do, and being one of them myself, they resent rule from anyone or thing, anyroad, a rebellion was short in coming.


the Bonnie Blue Flag










On 11 September, 1810 a troop of West Florida dragoons set out for Baton Rouge (Red Stick) to join republican militia to launch an attack on the Spanish fort there. The Scots-Irish forces overcame the Spanish garrison in Baton Rouge and unfurled the flag of the Republic of West Florida. Alas, politics being what they are, the Republic was only to exist for 90 days before the growing United States gobbled it up.


The flag was a single white star on a blue field. The flag unfurled in 1810 was made by Melissa Johnson, wife of Major Isaac Johnson, the commander of the West Florida Dragoons. The flag is called by two names commonly, the Bonnie Blue Flag and the Lone Star Flag. It saw use in the 1820s and 1830s as the Scots-Irish pushed into Texas and beyond. The state of Texas incorporates the Lone Star into its state flag of course.


On January 9, 1861 the convention of the People of Mississippi adopted an Ordinance of Secession. With this announcement the Bonnie Blue flag was raised over the capitol building in Jackson, Mississippi. Harry Macarthy was so inspired that he wrote a song entitled "The Bonnie Blue Flag" which became the second most popular patriotic song of the Ole Confederacy.


The Lone Star/Bonnie Blue flag has been in constant use from 1810. You will frequently see it today on license plates on cars and trucks and families fly the flag across the US South and beyond. The Bonnie Blue flag today is as popular as ever and still conveys the same spirit as the original lone star flag and it is part of our Ulster Heritage.


Barry R McCain








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