Flags of The Black Flag Army
Liu Yongfu evidently had a personal preference for the colour black, having dreamt in his youth that he would one day become a 'general of the black tiger'. The Black Flag Army is named from the colour of Liu's command flags.
French sources invariably mention that Liu Yongfu's personal command flags were very large, black in colour, and rectangular. In December, 1873, when Liu Yongfu confronted Francis Garnier outside Hanoi, the Black Flag Army was described as marching under enormous black flags. At the Battle of Palan (September 1, 1883), Liu Yongfu's headquarters was marked with seven identical black flags, bordered in silver. In the Son Tay Campaign (December, 1883), Liu Yongfu ordered three large black flags to be flown above the main gate of the citadel of Son Tay, bearing Chinese characters in white.
Individual Black Flag units flew a variety of flags, some rectangular and others triangular. In the afternoon of August 15, 1883, during the Battle of Phu Hoai, several units of the Black Flag Army emerged from their defences and advanced across open ground to attack the French left wing; according to a French eyewitness, the advancing Black Flag units bore numerous black banners decorated with Chinese characters in either red or white.
Surviving Black Flag banners include a black triangular banner with a representation in white of the seven stars of the Great Bear.
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