General S. S. Lee’s Confederate Navy Flag- The Only Lee Family Flag still in Private Hands. Confederate 1st National Flag from Robert E. Lee’s Family owned and carried by Confederate States Naval Captain Sidney Smith Lee, brother of General Robert E. Lee and father of Confederate General Fitzhugh Lee. Measuring 18″ x 24″, this beautiful silk Confederate 1st National flag with 13 stars was handmade for CS Navy Captain S. S. Lee by his wife, Anna Maria Mason Lee at their Virginia home “Ravensworth” in 1862 after Lee received his appointment in the Confederate Navy. Mrs. Lee was the daughter of John Mason, the Confederate States envoy to England. This was Captain Sidney Smith Lee’s personal Headquarters flag which he used when he served as the executive naval officer in command of the Norfolk Navy Yard during the construction of the C.S.S. Virginia in 1862. With twelve five-pointed stars arranged in a circle and the thirteenth in the center, the last star was added with the admission of Kentucky to the Confederacy in December 1861.
This flag is very unique in that it is the only Lee family Confederate flag still in private hands. The provenance is certain as the flag was passed down to Sidney Smith Lee’s son, Confederate General Fitzhugh Lee who was later Governor of Virginia. The great-grandson of Sydney Smith Lee sold the flag making it available for this sale.
Sidney Smith Lee, the older brother of General Robert E. Lee, was born in 1805 at Camden, New Jersey while his mother was visiting a friend. At the early age of 14 he entered the U.S. Navy and saw action in the Mexican War, as did Robert E. Lee. He prospered in the service and later commanded the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was commandant at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. He commanded the USS Mississippi on Commodore Matthew Perry’s groundbreaking mission to open trade with Japan in 1853. Resigning his commission at the outbreak of the Civil War, he received a captain’s commission in the Confederate States Navy. He commanded at the Norfolk Navy Yard where the Confederate gunships were being built and he hung this flag in his office. After the war he retired and died in 1869.
The flag is from the noted William Turner Collection and is accompanied by letters of authenticity from noted flag expert Howard Michael Madaus and provenance including a genealogical chart of the Lee family of Virginia. The flag is beautifully framed by Laurence Gallery.
Flag info and it’s sale at auction found here