Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Lone Star Flag Part II

Mary Long's Long Star Flag 1819

In The Lone Star Flag Part I, we learned that the Lone Star flag dates back to 1810 and events in Louisiana.   It is evident that the icon of the Lone Star lived beyond the 1810-1811 Republic of West Florida.  It returned just a few years later, again in Louisiana, among the same group of settlers and citizens.

James Long was a US Army surgeon and served with distinction in the War of 1812 and was present at the famous Battle of New Orleans (January 1815).  After his US Army service, he became a filibuster who led an expedition to seize control of the province of Texas from the Spanish ( a filibuster is a man who wages war upon a foreign country, meaning the man by himself and not operating on behalf of another country's government).

The border between New Spain and the United States was disputed at that time.  The Anglo-Celtic settlers planned a filibustering expedition to outright conquer the province of Texas, a province in northern New Spain.  James Long's comrade in this adventure was José Félix Trespalacios, a citizen of New Spain, who had been imprisoned for instigating a revolt against Spanish rule in México.  The two men gathered some 200 militiamen from their headquarters in Natchez, Mississippi.  

Jim Bowie and Ben Milam, two well known figures in Texas history, were in Long's militia group.  Both Bowie and Milam had prominent roles in the Texas Revolution in 1835-1836.   Long also attempted to recruit the famous French pirate, Jean Lafitte, but his attempts were unsuccessful.  Long's forces were primarily Anglo-Celt frontiersmen and several former French soldiers; a typical Deep South amalgam.

Long's Lone Star flag, version II; 1820

By June 1819 the Long Expedition arrived in Texas. The small army was initially successful and established a republic of sorts.  It did last longer than the ill fated Republic of West Florida. However, as the Spanish organised themselves to confront Long, the republic began to lose impetus. The men became restless and there was no method of expanding upon their success.  The Spanish organised their militia to confront Long's forces.  A number of the Long's men returned to Louisiana.  The Long affair did not end well.  Spanish military units confronted the remaining men in Long's force and quickly routed them.  Long escaped to Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Long was persistent. On his return to Louisiana, he began raising funds to equip a second invasion into New Spain.  In April 1820, he joined members from his first expedition on the Boliva Peninsula (in present day Galveston County, Texas).  He had 300 troops and brought with him his pregnant wife Jane.  There his expedition remained for a year, but only controlled the land under their feet.  Long seized Presidio La Bahía in an attempt to force the action.  The Spanish military counterattacked and forced Long and his men to surrender four days later.  Long was imprisoned in several Mexican towns and eventually sent to Mexico City.  There he was shot to death by a Mexican guard on 8 April 1822.

After Long's misadventure in Texas the Lone Star was next used in the mid 1830s.  It is interesting, that the Lone Star was again used by the same group of settlers and frontiersmen.  It is obvious, they liked the icon, knew its history, and continued to use it.   As the impetus toward revolution gained support in the province of Texas, the Lone Star icon returned. 

The Lone Star is on the Gonzales Banner (the Come and Take It flag), on the Scott Lone Star Independence flag (1835), and on the Golidad flag (1836).  The red Long Lone Star flag was also used in the 1842 Summervell Expedition when Texas troops crossed the Rio Grande and fought in Mier, Mexico.  

Replica of the Come And Take It flag 1835

The cannon that appears on the Come And Take It flag was used briefly at the beginning of the Texian revolution against the Mexican government in October of 1835.  There are two schools of thought on the cannon's fate.  I would urge the reader to explore the topic further.  The important point being, the Gonzales cannon was used in the first skirmish in the Texian revolution, and was a feature on the Come And Take It flag along with the Lone Star. 

Captain William Scott's flag 1835

The Troutman flag was designed by Joanna Troutman, in a response for aid for the cause of Texas in 1835.  Troutman made the flag for the Georgia Battalion of volunteers going to support Texas in their struggle against Mexico.  The flag had two inscriptions, 'Liberty or Death,' on one side, and Ubi Libertas Habitat, Ibi Nostra Patria Est'  (Where Liberty Dwells, There Is Our Fatherland).  The flag was unfurled at Velasco, Texas, on 8 January 1836.  It was used as the Texas national flag after the news of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Troutman Flag 1836

Burnet Flag 1836

The Burnet Flag was used in December of 1836 and later became the national flag of the Republic of Texas.  The Burnet Flag continued on as the Texas state flag until 1879, when it was incorporated into the present day Texas state flag.

Other splendid examples of the Lone Star in use from the mid 1800s include the excellent Republic of Mississippi flag in 1861.  It was the flag of Mississippi after secession from the United States and prior to joining the Confederacy.  It is a very handsome flag with a Lone Star on a blue canton and a magnolia tree on a white field.  After the WBTS this flag returned as the Mississippi state flag, and remained so until the late 1800s.

And then there is the Bonnie Blue Flag, which interestingly enough, has never been an 'official'  flag of any government outside of Texas.  It became popular in the early 1860s in the build up to the Southern secession movement.  The Bonnie Blue Flag remained a symbol of Southern independence, albeit, an unofficial one.  The Bonnie Blue flag continues to be popular and one still sees it use.  It is flown at private homes, at events, picnics, over decks with barbecues going on, at any festive occasion, etc.  It represents the same qualities that all the manifestations of the Lone Star flag represent.... Liberty and Freedom.   It is a good symbol and attractive flag.

The Bonnie Blue Flag

© Barry R McCain

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