Isabella/Ferdinand Flag French Royal Flag Union Jack 1st Confederate Flag US Flag

The Five Flags of Pensacola

These are the five flags that the city of Pensacola displays to represent Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy, and the United States (February, 2000):

If it had not been for a hurricane, Pensacola might have been the oldest permanent European settlement in the United States. The Spanish fleet under the command of Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano that had arrived in the area of present-day Pensacola in 1559, was severely damaged by one of our little storms in 1561, and the remnants went back to Mexico.

The first settlement did not take root until 1698 with the founding of Presidio Santa Maria de Galve on what is now NAS Pensacola and the city was under Spanish colonial rulers until 1719.

The French took the keys to the city in 1719, but they gave it back to the Spain in 1722. (The wine was bad, no croissants, no cafes...)

The British tried their hand at holding the city from 1763 until they were forced to leave in 1781. Spain allied itself with France and the fledgling American Colonies and took the city with forces from Cuba. (This was payback. Britain got Florida from Spain by capturing and holding Havana hostage.)

Spain gave up Pensacola and Florida in 1821 to the United States. They never found gold or the Fountain of Youth, and the Spanish government was constantly being attacked by American groups.

Florida became a state on July 4, 1845, but decided that was a bad idea in 1861 and seceded.

In May of 1862 Pensacola was again under the control of the United States, and has remained under the American flag since. (The Confederate forces were never able to capture Fort Pickens at the entrance to Pensacola Bay, and local forces were needed to face U.S. Grant in the west.)

Pensacola calls itself the City of Five Flags, based on the Spanish, French, British, Confederate, and United States periods.

Historians pretty much ignore the French period and divide the Spanish period into two separate entities.

These are the five flags that I would display to represent Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy, and the United States:

Spanish Flag French Naval Flag Union Jack Confederate Flag US Flag

What follows is my reasoning regarding the choice of flags.

Isabella/Ferdinand FlagIsabella & Ferdinand: This was their personal flag, Spain did not have a national flag at this time. Isabella died before Florida was settled.

Philip's FlagPhilip I: This is the personal flag of the King of Spain when Florida was settled. It is the basis for the Florida state flag, but Philip never came to Florida, so neither did his flag.

de Luna FlagDon Tristan de Luna: This flag is based of the Arms of the Luna family. If you were to use a personal flag, this would be the prime candidate

Spanish FlagSecond Spanish Period: A true, national flag that certainly flew over Pensacola.

French Royal FlagFrench King: Sometimes used in colonies to indicate they were the property of the king, but Florida was never really integrated into the French Empire.

French Naval FlagFrench Navy: The normal flag used in colonies and certainly the flag that flew over Pensacola.

1st Confederate FlagConfederacy 1861: The original 'Stars & Bars'. In February, 2000, the City Manager of Pensacola replaced the Battle Flag of the Army of Tennessee with this flag. Having reviewed old photographs, he noticed that this was the only flag found in the photos. Escambia County continues to use the Tennessee flag.

Confederate FlagConfederacy 1861-1863: The 'Stars & Bars' updated to 13 stars. This was the Flag of the Confederacy at its height.

Chase's Lone Star FlagBattle Flag of Florida Troops: This flag was known to have been raised over the Pensacola Navy Yard by Colonel William Chase, Commander of Florida Troops in 1861. This was originally the naval ensign of the Republic of Texas.

Army of TennesseeArmy of Tennessee: The battle flag of the Army of Tennessee, a rectangular version, minus the white border, of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. This flag certainly did not fly over Pensacola during the War between the States. This flag was later adopted by the Confederate Army in the West, but individual units fought under their own, state flags.

First Florida Infantry Regiment1st Florida Infantry Regiment: This was the regimental standard, late in the war, of a unit from Pensacola, but it wasn't used in Florida. While similar, it has a fetching pink silk border and uses a dozen six-pointed stars, rather than 13 five-pointed ones.

Union JackBritish Flag: A true, national flag and from the correct period (note the white saltire cross without the current red overlay).

US FlagPeriod US Flag: The flag when Florida entered the Union, a more suitable choice for a display of historic flags, especially since the design only lasted a year and represents Florida's entry into the United States.

Pirate FlagPirate Flag: This flag represents Fort Walton Beach's answer to the flag question. The area was settled by pirates looking for a hideout.

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