Over the years, there has been some debate over exactly which flags should be used as the official Six Flags of Texas. While the flag designs of the United States, Texas and Mexico are well established, there has been some variation in the selection of the Spanish, French, and Confederate flag designs.
There are two versions of the Spanish flag which are frequently seen in a display of the Six Flags. Both designs incorporate the heraldic emblems of Leon and Castile, the lion and castle, but differ in their arrangement.
In 1936, the Texas Centennial Exposition chose to use a flag based on the banner which was carried by Cortez during the conquest of Mexico. The flag was:
"Red damask, double faced, equally divided into four squares, carrying the emblems of Castile and Leon. The upper left square next to the staff and the lower right carry the castle with three ramparts. The lower left and the upper right carry the rampant Lion, without the crown usually seen, in a smaller center field of white. The lion is red. The reverse side pictures the Holy Virgin Mary with hands folded. (For Exposition purposes, the flag will not carry out this part of the description.) "
From "Why the Six Flags of Texas?" Texas Centennial Review, February 19, 1936, page 3.
This flag is still sometimes used as one of the Six Flags. However, the Spanish flag in use after 1785 is now more commonly seen. This red and yellow striped flag depicts a lion of Leon and a castle of Castile on a shield surmounted by a crown.
In 1684, Rene Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle attempted to establish a French colony on the Texas coast. The venture was unsuccessful, and by 1690 Fort St. Louis had been abandoned. In the 1680s, there was not one official French flag; a number of different designs were in use, and it is not clear which La Salle's expedition might have carried. Some patterns which have been used in Texas include a white banner with three gold fleur-de-lis, a blue banner with three gold or white fleur-de-lis and a white banner liberally sprinkled with gold fleur-de-lis. For the Centennial Exposition, the white flag sprinkled with gold fleur-de-lis was adopted as the most likely design, and this pattern is most commonly seen today.
The Confederate States of America
Between 1861 and 1865, the Confederate States of America had three national flags, as well as naval ensigns and battle flags.
The first national flag, the Stars and Bars, is the flag most commonly used in the Six Flags of Texas today. It was adopted by the provisional government, and first raised in Montgomery, Alabama on March 4, 1861. As adopted, the Stars and Bars has a blue field with a circle of seven stars, and three horizontal stripes -- red, white and red. It was originally intended that stars would be added as states joined the Confederacy, but the version with just seven stars remained common in Texas, which was the seventh state to join the Confederacy. Texans sometimes modified this flag design by arranging six stars in a circle, with a seventh star in the middle of the circle. This version can been seen in the drawing of the reverse of the state seal on the Secretary of State's Web site.
This flag was used as the Confederate flag until May 1, 1863. However, the strong resemblance between the Stars and Bars and the United States flag created confusion on the battlefield, so a variety of battle flags were substituted. The most famous of these battle flags is the one originally used by the Army of Northern Virginia. It was a square with a red ground, marked with a blue saltire bordered with white and with a white five-pointed star for each of the Confederate states. A rectangular version of this flag was used as the naval jack.
Although Confederate troops used a number of other battle flags, this flag was one of most popular and widely used. According to the Handbook of Texas Online article on Flags of Texas, in 1906, the United Confederate Veterans designated the battle flag of the army of Northern Virginia the flag for use by veterans organizations. Because of its popularity and wide recognition, this flag was sometimes used in Six Flags displays. However, in 1936 the Texas Centennial Exposition opted to use the Star and Bars and the use of the battle flag as one of the Six Flags has declined.
The battle flag design was incorporated into both the second and third national flags of the Confederacy. The second flag, know as the Stainless Banner, flew from May 1, 1863 until March 4, 1865 and was a white banner with the battle flag in the upper corner near the pole. In March of 1865, the Stainless Banner was modified by the addition of a vertical red stripe. Neither later flag is commonly used in Six Flags displays.