During the Civil War, Mississippi was one of many states that seceded from the Union and adopted an Ordinance of Secession. After the adoption of this document, an official flag was raised at the capitol building in Jackson, which consisted of a blue field with a single white star. Traveling showman Harry McCarthy witnessed this event, and the stirring marching song he wrote to the tune of an Irish folk song, The Bonnie Blue Flag (that Bears a Single White Star), became famous throughout the South. Although an official Confederate flag (the Stars and Bars) was later adopted, the Bonnie Blue Flag continued to be popular with citizens of the seceding states who believed in secession.

Understanding the Bonnie Blue Flag: Symbolism and Controversy

It was also popular in the military, and a blue flag with a single white star was seen flying above the Confederate batteries that attacked Ft. Sumpter – the incident that triggered the Civil War. The song and the flag inspired state flags for several of the new confederate states, and it is the inspiration for our Lone Star Flag in Texas today.

A version of the song was played by the band in the 1989 movie Glory as the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment marches through Gettysburg. In addition, a portion of the song can be heard in the 1999 television series The Hunley about the sinking of the H.L. Hunley submarine. The song has also been featured in many other films and is often sung at Civil War reenactments and events. While the song is not the official anthem of the United States, it has become one of America’s most well-known Civil War songs and is still sung by tens of thousands of people each year.

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