The Confederacy’s first official flag, known as the “Stars and Bars” was first flown on March 4th 1861.
The Provisional Confederate Congress created the Committee of the Flag and Seal among its first acts. The Committee was chaired by William Porcher Miles of South Carolina. Miles designed what would become the Confederate battle flag, but an overwhelming request to not abandon the old flag of the United States, caused the Committee to choose the similarly styled “Stars and Bars”. It was flown for the first time on March 4th 1861 over the dome of the Confederate capitol at Montgomery, Alabama.
The “Stars and Bars” was designed by the Prussian artist Nicola Marschall [there is an equal claim made by Orrin Randolph Smith of Henderson, North Carolina]. The flag is shown with between 7 and 15 stars, based on how many states have joined the Confederacy. This was the flag which flew over Fort Sumter when the Confederacy took control Charleston Harbor.
There were criticisms of the “Stars and Bars” due to its resemblance to the Union flag on the battlefield. By January 1862 George William Bagby of the Southern Literary Messenger, wrote "Everybody wants a new Confederate flag. The present one is universally hated. It resembles the Yankee flag and that is enough to make it unutterably detestable." The Confederacy discontinued the use of the flag in May 1863.