The First Battle of Bull Run or First Manassas (depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you found yourself on) was fought in the Washington, DC suburb of Manassas, Virginia on July 21, 1861. The first serious ground battle after the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in April of the year, “Bull Run” aptly describes the Union Army as it stampeded as fast as it could away from the victorious Confederate forces who took the field that day. Bull Run was a test of two raw armies, and the Confederate victory, though modest, sent a message to the entire country that warfare and death were here to stay.
The first of three Confederate flag designs was called the “Stars and Bars,” and was adopted by the Confederacy March 1, 1861, a month before the events at Fort Sumter. The first adaptation of the flag contained a circle of seven stars in a blue field and three horizontal stripes, red, white, and red. By November of 1861 there were 13 stars in the circle. It was a rather attractive flag, based as it was on Old Glory, and offered no resemblance to the Confederate flag most people are familiar with today.
The 1861 “Confederate” Liberty Seated quarter I have in my exonumia collection is certainly unique. In the right obverse field a Confederate Stars and Bars flag has been etched, two red stripes with the white stripe in between, and seven tiny stars in a circle. On the reverse “Bull Run” in fancy script arcs in a curve above the eagle. I can’t be certain that this unusual piece was actually made in 1861 by a Confederate soldier or sympathizer, but the wear is such that it could have been made from a freshly minted 1861 quarter and then carried as a pocket piece. Like so many other items in my exonumia collection, this “Confederate quarter” has a story to tell – this is one coin I wish could speak!