Bryan and all,
There is still a lot to learn about the Van Dorn flags, like how many were made, etc. but here'e what I do know so far:
The first issues were not until June, 1862, when the ladies of Guntown, MS made a batch for the Missouri Brigade, who were the first troops to get this flag. These flags were fringed, whereas later issues were not. The stars were in a different pattern than tha later issues as well.
It is seemingly weird in terms of the design of this flag considering that Earl Van Dorn was one of the three CS generals to have gotten the prototype silk 12 star ANV battle flags in the Fall of 1861 while he was still in Virginia. And yet the flag that bears his name today looks more Middle Eastern.
The crescent was a ploy to lure the Missourians to the cause as it can still be found today in the Coat of Arms of the State of Missouri. So it was fitting that the first flags of this pattern were issued to what would become Cockrell's MO Brigade.
In August/September, 1862, the large issue of van Dorn flags came out - these havign yellow or white borders and the stars in a 3-2-3-2-3 array descending from the top of the flag to the bottom. The 3rd Louisiana flag described already by one poster, is a variant - and I have seen the flag in person (Private collection) and it is a bit different from the others of this pattern. They lost this flag at Iuka and it was presumeably replaced by one of the August issues that were uniform.
We suspect that these flags were made in Jackson, MS as there was a flag maker there of repute (I forget his name offhand - see our Flags of the Confederacy website at www.confederateflags.org and check my essay on CS flag makers) as I found some QM records with a number of these flags in hand in Jackson for the right time frame.
The new flags first saw action ar Corinth were some were captured (two are in Iowa, 43rd Miss. and unknown) but since none of the Corinth captured flags were sent to the War Department we cannot know for sure how many more of this pattern were taken there. The 9th Texas Cavalry lost an ANV 12 star silk flag from the November, 1861 issue (and how that got west we are still trying to figure out) while the 6th Texas lost, again presumeably, their Van Dorn flag at Hatchie Bridge. The 15th NW Arkansas lost their Van Dorn flag at Port Gibson.
The 3rd Arkansas Cavalry requisition that I sent to Anthony is for, we think, their Van Dorn battle flag.
If you would like to see what they looked like visit www.confederateflags.org and click on the CS Army icon.