What Is the History of the State Flag of Virginia?

Liz Thomas

The history of the state flag of Virginia is not quite as old as the flag of the United States, as the state did not first have an official flag until 1861. The Virginia coat of arms and the Virginia creeper plant appear on the flag. Both are significant symbols in the state. Slight changes have been made to the flag since its inception. Most changes deal with image specifications, addition of fringe and color standards.

Virginia creeper appears in the wreath on the Virginia state flag.
Virginia creeper appears in the wreath on the Virginia state flag.

During the Civil War, Virginia was one of 11 states that seceded from the union. It was during this time, in 1861, that one flag was adopted as the official flag of Virginia. A number of flags had flown throughout the state since 1830, but they were not considered official.

Virginia did not have an official state flag until 1861.
Virginia did not have an official state flag until 1861.

The current state flag of Virginia is very similar to the original flag chosen during the Civil War. The state coat of arms is located in the center of a blue background, inside a white circle. This important symblol is embroidered or painted on both sides of the flag.

The seal of the commonwealth is found on Virginia's state flag as well. In the center of the coat of arms is the depiction of a woman representing virtue, known as Virtus. She is dressed like an goddess, holding a sword and spear, standing on a representation of tyranny. The word Virginia is located over her head, and an ornamental wreath encircles the coat of arms. This seal found on the flag was created as the symbol of Virginia in 1776.

Virginia's state flag was flown alongside the Confederate flag during the Civil War by all Virginia regiments. The flags that were used in the Civil war were all sewn by the George Mumford's daughters. George Mumford was the secretary of state of Virginia at this time.

Over time some small changes were made to the flag. A white fringe was incorporated onto the fly of the flag. The fly refers to the length of the flag from the flag pole or attachment to the farthest point on the flag.

The ornamental wreath that encircles the seal was changed in 1931 to be a Virginia creeper wreath. The leaves are in green and the flowers are red. In 1949, the colors used in the flag were chosen so that all flags produced would be exactly the same. The governor of Virginia has regulated the dimensions and size of the flag since 1966.

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