Digest>Archives> March 2002

What happened to the Confederate Lighthouse Flag?

Was there ever a flag?

By Timothy Harrison


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During the American Civil War the lighthouses in the southern states fell under the control of the Confederate States of America, and in March of 1861 the Confederate States Lighthouse Bureau was formed.

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Raphael Semmes was a commander in the United ...

The Confederate States Lighthouse Bureau was responsible for all lighthouses, lightships, buoys and other navigational aids and their administration, repair, illumination, etc. The Bureau administered a lighthouse system that had been established and operated by the U. S. Lighthouse Establishment. With the outbreak of the war, lighthouses and lightships along the southern seacoasts were seized, but USLHS vessels that were seized were turned over to the Confederate States military. By July 1861, most of the lights were extinguished to prevent their use by U.S. ships blockading the southern ports. The Bureau also moved many of the lenses and equipment inland. Even to this day the whereabouts of the first order Fresnel lens taken from Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina remains one of the great-unsolved mysteries of American lighthouse history.

Almost all government agencies had their own flag. The United States Lighthouse Establishment had several flags. But, did the Confederate States Lighthouse Bureau ever have a flag?

We don’t know the answer. In our research we have been unable to find any record of a Confederate States lighthouse flag. However, it would have made sense that they might have developed one. On the other hand, perhaps due to the circumstances, the last thing on anyone’s mind at that time was the development of a Confederate States lighthouse flag.

Perhaps the answers are out there somewhere, maybe in the Confederate States Lighthouse Bureau’s records at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

We are offering a $500.00 reward to the first person that that sends us an authenticated photograph of a Confederate States Lighthouse Bureau flag. Maybe one of our readers, perhaps one who is also a Civil War buff, has the answer.

For now, the mystery, if indeed there is a mystery, is unsolved.

This story appeared in the March 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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