Page Title: Historical Flags
Historic Desk Flags and Sets Civil War Flags
Development of Old Glory
Two Brand New Additions From The American Revolution:
General Sullivan's Flag #H162 $49
3x5' Dyed nylon design finished with canvas heading and brass
John Sullivan, a lawyer of New Hampshire, member of the
First and Second Continental Congress and militia leader early in the war.
Made Brig. General for the siege of Boston. Later appointed by Washington to
command the invasion of Canada. Next made one of the commanders in the
horrible American defeat on Long Island where his forces were attacked from
the rear and front simultaneously. After hand to hand fighting in which his
command was almost wiped out, he was captured. Released in a prisoner
exchange, he was with Washington again at Trenton and Princeton. Later
commanded the scorched earth campaign against the Iroquios in western New
General Schuyler's Flag #H161 $49
3x5' Dyed nylon design finished with canvas heading and
Philip John Schuyler served as a captain for British
forces in the French and Indian war. Afterwards his estate grows into a
giant agricultural, lumber and milling operation including slaves and
thousands of acres. He serves in the NY colonial assembly where he becomes
an outspoken opponent of colonial rule. Elected to the Second Continental
Congress he serves until he is appointed a Maj General in the Continental
Army. He is commander of the initial defense against the British invasion of
NY by Burgoyne whose initial success leads to Schuyler being replaced by
Gen. Gates who accuses Schulyer of dereliction of duty. Demanding a court
martial, Schulyer is vindicated but resigns. Schulyer has a famous son in
law: Alexander Hamilton
From our collection of Revolutionary War
Three Flags More Flags of American Defiance:
"First Continental Regiment Flag"
Their motto: I refuse to be subjugated"
Know this man? Ever see his flag?
The Hanover Associators Flag #H144 $49.00
3x5' Brilliantly dyed nylon with heading
A militia formed 1774 "that in the event of Great Britain attempting to
force unjust laws upon us by strength of arms, our cause we leave to Heaven
and our rifles." These were Pennsylvania country boys with attitude. To
them, the right to bear arms was decidedly not about duck hunting. Lest
anyone miss their point, the rifle and their motto "Liberty or Death adorned
their flag. $49.00
The White Plains Flag
3x5' Brilliantly dyed nylon with heading
The message to the British was
unmistakable. The blue cap hanging on the staff is a "liberty cap."
It goes back to ancient Rome where it was called a "Phrygian
cap." A master would give the cap to a freed slave as a symbol of his
new found freedom. The Phrygian cap was a common symbol in colonial
politics. The sword speaks for itself.
"These colors were captured by the Hessians
either on August 27, 1776, at the Battle of Long Islands, or Oct. 28, 1776,
at the Battle of White Plains. A German account, listing the earlier date,
belittles the skill of the American troops who surrendered under this flag,
but it was only a few weeks later that the same Hessians under Colonel Rall
surrendered to General Washington at Trenton, Dec. 26, 1776. The design on
the flag is taken from an undated engraving."
Source: "Flags to Color from the American
48 star Whipple Flag #H134 $49.00
3x5' dyed nylon finished with heading and grommets
Historical information by Dave Martucci
Martucci's Flag Pages
The 48-star version of the Whipple flag is the only one
ever to go into production. A 46-star design is illustrated in Wayne
Whipple's 1910 book but that same book has the 48-star version on the cover. Whipple's book makes reference to the design
the name "American History Flag". He did not call it the "peace
Whipple's book discussed the flag in terms of design and
his idea was that the central 13 stars (in a form taken from the Great Seal
of the USA [look at the back of a $1 bill]) represented the States that
formed the Union, then a ring of 25 stars representing the 25 States that
were admitted in the first 100 years of the country and then a ring of 10
stars for the 10 States that joined in the second hundred years (up to
1912), therefore he called it the History Flag. He went on to challenge all
the boys and girls who read his book to come up with their ideas for a
meaningful star arrangement.
The 48 star
version version made it into commercial distribution because a major flag producer like John Dettra was behind
it. This version is the only
one to be found. Throughout the internet, one can find photos of 48 star
auctions and elsewhere. But I see no 46 star versions. It seems that the 46
star version was one of those flags that gets designed but never actually
gets made and distributed in a meaningful way
V. L. Campbell, an agent for the Dettra Flag Company, took out a 7-year
patent on March 6, 1917 that was the Whipple design in a pennant form. At
about the same time, although I haven't yet proven it completely, Wayne
Whipple had a second edition of his 1910 book (still bearing the 1910 date)
privately published with a new cover showing the 48-star version, identical
to the patent design. My guess is the money to publish the book came from
Dettra in trade for using the design on flags and pennants. Dettra produced
both and I think the misnomer of "Whipple Peace Flag" may have come from
Dettra who advertised the design in both forms as something to celebrate the
end of the War in 1919. Whipple always called it the 'History Flag'. I think
the Whipple flag was one of the best latter-day Great Star Flags, basically
the last in real production.
See that flag? Read its story
Fort Mercer Flag #H133S $119.00
flown at Ft. Mercer, New Jersey, in 1777. 3x5' Appliquéd stars and sewn
stripes, nylon with heading and
grommets. MADE TO ORDER, ALLOW ABOUT 5 WEEKS. This flag was suggested to us by Devereaux Cannon and the
following information is his:
My source for information on these flags is Standards and
Colors of the American Revolution by Edward W. Richardson.
The source for the flags of both Fort Mercer and Fort Mifflin is a sketch
made in October 1777. There are no surviving flags, nor any better depiction
from an original source.
The sketch shows the Fort Mercer flag having dimensions
more nearly 3 x 5. Richardson’s drawing based on that sketch has the canton
oblong and resting on the sixth stripe (i.e., a white stripe below the red
canton). Another source reproduces the canton as more nearly square and
extending one stripe lower (i.e., resting on a blue stripe, being the
Click on this thumbnail to enlarge an image of the Fort
Mercer Flag sewn stars and stripes
My own interpretation of the sketch (with the help of a
magnifying glass) is that the canton is more nearly square, and almost half
the width of the flag, so resting on the 7th stripe does seems right. It is
impossible to make out anything from the stars. They are just rendered as
dots, and there are not even a discernable number, much less pattern. They
could be in rows or a circle. They could have 5 or more points. Richardson
and the other (unknown) interpreter both use the 3-2-3-2-3 star pattern.
Richardson’s stars have 5 points, the other uses 8 points (perhaps because
they more nearly resemble dots). My inclination would be to accept the
3-2-3-2-3 pattern, and to use 5-pointed stars as Richardson did, on the
chance that these flags, being flown at forts near Philadelphia, were
actually made by Mrs. Ross.
Note that, the Fort Mercer flag, sketched in October 1777, four months after
the June 14 flag resolution, is probably the first depiction of the Stars &
Stripes pattern, even if the colours are reversed from what Congress
So, to recap, if I were making a replica of the Fort Mercer flag, it would
be 3 x 5 feet with 7 blue and 6 white stripes, with a square red canton
resting on the seventh stripe (a blue one) with 13 5-pointed stars in the
As far as I know, the Fort Mercer flag was one-of-a-kind, and maybe had the
colours reversed because the Flag Resolution was so new and someone got
confused. Classroom Experiment
Ft Mifflin Flag
#H120 $49.00 3x5' This is now a nylon flag with SEWN
stripes, heading and grommets. Our previous version was a printed flag.
“Valiant Defender of the Delaware, The Fort That Saved
America" Learn more
Suffragette Flags Flags of the
National Women's Party, 19th Amendment Ratification Banner
Join or Die Flag
#H118P $23.95 3x5'
Light Weight outdoor polyester with heading and grommets
A favorite and popular political cartoon
before The Revolution it was widely distributed and understood. It first
appeared in Ben Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper on May 9, 1754 and
spread to other newspapers. The danger of disunited colonies was graphically
illustrated in this cartoon along with his editorial making the case for
This was never an actual flag back then but
it is now.
Songs included: In Good Old Colony Times, To The Ladies, The
Liberty Song, The Destruction of the Tea, The Banks of the Dee, Robin Adair,
Yankee Doodle, The Irishman's Epistle, Sir Peter Parker, Congress Minuet,
The Battle of Trenton, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier, The Riflemen of
Bennington, Lovely Nancy, Katy Cruel, The Fate of John Burgoyne, Chester,
Marion's Men, The Surrender of Cornwallis, The World Turned Upside Down
Do you like history and historic flags? Then I bet you'll
love the Songs of the Patriots in the American Revolution. The work of Bobby
Horton is just wonderful. 20 selections of songs that were played by
Americans as they struggled for their independence. These are songs
written in the 1760's that chronicle battles, parodies of the British and
period "pop" songs that were favored by the common folk. Each song is
accompanied by historical liner notes. Bobby calls his work "Homespun"
because he plays all the instruments, does all the singing and makes all the
recording himself in his home production studio.
These are the tunes that meant so much to the incredible people who
founded our country, our home
#BHCDR $16.00; DEAL: Buy any
flag on this page and we'll throw in this CD for just
We learned many years ago about listening to
your suggestions when Earl Williams first urged us to make The Francis Hopkinson flag. Since
then we've had lots of fun making available wonderful old flags that deserve to
fly again. When someone requests a flag with a compelling story I find it hard
to resist. When flag scholar
Dave Martucci asked us about this
one I said "you're on."
This flag is sold out. It is kept here for historical
Thought to be the first American flag to
be saluted by a foreign warship.
Mr. Fowle was a militia soldier stationed at "Castle
William" in Boston. He is said to have presented this flag to the officers
there in 1781. After The Revolution, the post was renamed Fort Independence.
The first war ship to visit the new United States after hostilities ended
was His Royal Brittanic Majesty's ship "Alligator" in 1791. She saluted the
American flag with 13 guns and the fort returned the salute. Some accounts
say the flag saluted was the very one donated 10 years earlier by Jonathan Fowle.
Our reproduction captures the home made charm of the original flag now part
of the Massachusetts State House collection. Some refer to this flag as the Fort
Independence Flag or the Castle William Flag. We prefer naming it after the soldier rather than the
fort. Click here to read a more detailed article about the
We also thank
Peter Orenski, flag graphics guy
extraordinaire. He also created the vector artwork needed to manufacture
the flag. Check out his company TME
Co., Inc. Peter has what I believe to be the world's largest selection
of Native American Flags. Then, in case you miss it once you get there, you
must check out
his 4x6" page. If you are a collector of 4x6" desk top flags, I can
not say enough about his thrilling product line. In my 25 years in this
business, I have not seen a more graphically beautiful and utterly
intriguing offering of impossible to find flags from across the world. I
don't know how he does it. He has even explained it to me and I still don't
know how he does it. You just will not believe the breadth and detail of
Wanted: Your Requests
The Flag Guys ® is interested in making more historical flags available to the public. American history is rich with amazing stories that deserve to be remembered by flying the flags connected with them. That is why we have produced
so many flags in response to your suggestions and requests.
Unless a flag is mass-produced, it is only
available on a "custom" basis. A custom flag rarely costs less than a hundred
bucks, and can cost many hundreds. The usual historical flags like the Betsy
Ross, and the Gadsden are fine. But there is so much more to history than that.
So if you know a flag that deserves to be remembered, or a regiment that ought
to be honored by anyone who would like an affordable flag to fly, please share
it with us. Send us a picture and the story. Maybe we'll make it available to
the public. Bookmark this site as we'll be adding more historical flags.
George Washington's Personal Flag 1775
#H34 $49.00 3x5' acid dyed Nylon
A Unique Replica of American History.
Light blue w/ unusual 6 pointed stars. An original
Washington's HQ Flag is at Valley Forge National Historic Site in Pennsylvania
We have a "warehouse find" of unusual historical flags which we show below in RED. These are not a regular or continuing part of our product line. They are normally not made in the sizes or materials shown. Or they are not normally made at all anymore. Quantities may be limited. For some flags, there are hundreds. For some there are literally just a few or even just one!
All the flags shown in red are available subject to prior sale. We will try to keep this list up to date.
We hope you enjoy this unusual selection of values. Please pass the link on to your friends. There is some really rare stuff here.
A word about materials
"Cotton" means heavy cotton bunting. Dyed cotton flags are not the best choice for flying in the rain. Colors, especially reds, can bleed. You should care for these flags with more attention that you need to with nylon flags. Some folks, especially collectors, enjoy these flags for their traditional look. Of particular interest in the collection below are those intricately dyed cotton flags such as the Bedford. Years ago when we started in this business, most historical flags were manufactured in nylon AND cotton. Today, cotton has almost entirely disappeared. Such cotton flags are therefore best enjoyed with light, protected use or just saved in a collection
"Light Cotton" is cotton sheeting. Its colors do much better in the weather than the heavy cotton bunting. It is not as rugged as nylon or heavy cotton bunting. But the flags offered in it are not as rare or special. For the low cost, it is a worthwhile economy choice for outdoor flying.
All flags are finished with heading and grommets unless specifically stated otherwise
Don't worry about an item not having an item number. We don't have an item number for every item. Just order it by name, description and price. We will know which flag you want.
Items listed in RED are closeout items subject
to prior sale. When they are gone there are no more
Alamo Flag Historical Info
$41 Item #ALAMON
$39 Item 3'x3' Nylon#BEDFORDN
Bedford 3'x3' Cotton $59 Item #H76
Vast selection of sizes and prices
Betsy Ross Flag
Betsy Ross! A vast selection
of sizes and prices
British Red Ensign, British Blue Ensign,
British White Ensign British Ensigns
Bunker Hill Flag
$47 3'x5' Nylon
Civil War Flags
California Republic Flag(Bear Flag)
$44 3'x5' Nylon
If you love California or have any interest in the history of
this cool old flag, you must check out the web site devoted to it. It is a labor
of love:The Bear
Coahuila y Tejas Flag
3x5' Nylon with sewn appliqued stars. The Coahuila flag is custom made to order. Allow about 4-5
Columbus Personal Flag
$40 3'x5' Nylon
Commodore Perry Flag #H155
$48 3'x5' Nylon
Screen printed nylon:
3'x5' Nylon $39
Dyed stars and stripes
Culpepper Flag #H159
$47 3'x5' Nylon
Easton Flag #H54
As seen on the US Postage Stamp in the
year 2000 series
$59 3'x5' Nylon Dyed stars and stripes
Eighth Air Force Flag
First Navy Jack Flag
First Navy Jack
Fort Moultrie Flag #H157
$48 3'x5' Nylon
Francis Hopkinson Flag
Francis Hopkinson Flag
John Fremont's flag
#H109 SOLD OUT. This flag is kept here for historical information only.
We have no plans to make any more.
3x5' Nylon with heading and grommets
At last a correct version with the white
canton. Western explorer, and first Republican Party presidential candidate in
1856, Union Major General John Fremont refused to rescind his order freeing
slaves confiscated from secessionists. He refused to send freed slaves back
to their owners. Lincoln fired him for this unauthorized move. His wife
created this flag for him to take on his early 1840's California
expeditions. Made in Canada
French Fleur-de-lis Flag blue
$39 3'x5' Nylon
French Fleur-de-lis Flag white
$39.50 3'x5' Nylon
French Fleur-de-lis Flag 23
$39.75 3'x5' Nylon
French Royal Standard
$49.003x5' Nylon with heading
Don't Tread On Me Flag, the favorite Tea Party Flag
George Rogers Clark
#H154 $49 3x5' Nylon with heading
and grommets. Sewn stripes
Gonzales Banner "Come and Take it Flag"
3x5' Nylon With Heading & Grommets
From Oct. 2,1835 in the history of The Great Lone Star State of Texas!
Santa Anna had abolished the Mexican constitution of 1824 and made himself Dictator there. In 1835 he sends forces to reclaim a cannon in Gonzales. Can't have a cannon out among the people you are trying to control! On October 2, Texan volunteers unfurl this flag and fire the first shot in their war for independence from Mexico. Good old American defiance! At the time, Texas was a Mexican province. That December, Texans take over the nearby Alamo and allow the defeated Mexicans there to leave. But in February 1836 5,000 Mexican troops arrive led by Santa Anna himself against whom 182 Texans and Tejanos, Texans of Mexican descent,
hold out for 10 days before drawing their famous "line in the dust" and
perishing to the man. A handful of women and children are spared. The Gonzales
Banner is an emotional and spontaneous expression of a handful of Texans
standing up for their freedom and democracy.
Grand Union Flag #H158
$39 3'x5' Nylon
"The name Grand Union was retroactively created by 19th-century
historians to describe the Continental Colors" quoted from end note #15
in Peter Ansoff's article "A Striped Ensign in
Philadelphia in 1754" published in RAVEN Vol 15 by
NAVA. Also of interest is his end note #2
from the same paper. "There is no official record of when, or by whom, the
Continental Colors was created; however, the earliest known description is
believed to have been written in early December, 1775."
Great Star Flag (20 star version)
$39 3x5' Nylon
There were many versions of "Great Star" flags in which the star
pattern itself formed a star.
Green Mountain Boys Flag #H163
$39 3'x5' Nylon
Guilford Courthouse Flag #H126
$39 3'x5' Nylon
Kings Colors Flag
$5.99 Item #H66 3x5' Polyester
$29 2x3' Nylon
$40 3'x5' Nylon
Lewis And Clark Era Flag
Indian Presentation flag from 1803-1812, as might have been
carried by the Corps. According to Howard Madaus, it was supposedly presented by
President Andrew Jackson to Chippewa Chief Sheboy-way.
17 stars because by 1803 four states had joined the original 13 in the Union –
Vermont (March 4, 1791), Kentucky (June 1, 1792), Tennessee (June 1, 1796), and
Ohio (March 1, 1803); it shows an incongruous number of 15 stripes because
specifications for the number of stars and stripes were not finalized by
Congress and President James Monroe until 1818
Lewis and Clark Flag
$49 #H107 Nylon
17 stars, 15 stripes. There were many
variations of flags throughout the 1800's. This is a typical design in use from
1803-1812. The Lewis and Clark expedition ran from 5/14/1804 - 9/261806
Flag Of The New Orleans Greys From The Alamo
Royal Standard of Spain Flag
$39 3'x5' Nylon Also called Lions and Castles
Lord Baltimore Flag
$39 3x5' Nylon
Philadelphia Light Horse Flag
$49 3'x5' Nylon
Pine Tree Flag
$39 3'x5' Nylon
Republican Party Flags
"Bleeding Kansas." I find the 10 years leading up to The
War Between The States more interesting than the war itself. Imagine the
type of sectional violence that makes us shudder when we see it around the
world today. Back in the 1850's a mini civil war was going on in Kansas. The
territory was poised to become a state. Would she enter The Union as a free
or slave state? Pro slavery interests, free soilers, and abolitionists all
rush to settle and control the state's future. The collision of these forces
leads to The Pottawatomie Creek Massacre lead by John Brown. There is the
Sacking of Lawrence Kansas lead by a sitting US Senator. Two competing state
governments are formed and there are two different competing state
constitutions. "Popular sovereignty", pushed by Stephen Douglas, seeks to
allow the voters to decide the slavery issue.
In 1856 the Republican Party appears for the first time
in a national election with presidential candidate John C Fremont. Kansas was a major hot button
issue in that race. The political balance of congress was at stake. The
Republican platform calls for no expansion of slavery into the territories.
The Republicans campaign against the expansion of slavery. The Democrats
warn that the Republicans are a radical sectional interest whose victory
will lead to the destruction of the fragile Union. Fremont is defeated by James Buchanan.
The Republicans would come back four years later and win with Abraham
Lincoln upon whose victory the Union would indeed break apart.
These are two flags used to support Fremont at rallies.
Don't miss Fremont's personal flag.
Admit Me Free Flag
3x5' dyed nylon with canvas heading and
This flag was used in a Pennsylvania rally.
The large star represents the hoped for entry of Kansas as a free state
Free Kansas Flag
3x5' dyed nylon with canvas heading and
Fremont's running mate was William Dayton of New Jersey
This flag was used by Fremont supporters in
Rhode Island Regiment Flag
$39 3'x5' Nylon
The Rhode Island Regiment was a the first all black unit in
America. It distinguished itself during The Revolutionary War. Among other
action, it took part in the assault of Redoubt 10 at Yorktown. Just Google
its name and check it out.
Russian American Company Flag
$42.00 #H88 3x5' Nylon
from 1799 to 1881, the company's flag had many slight variations over its
Serapis Flag #H102
$39 3'x5' Nylon Item #H102
Sons of Liberty Flag
St. George's Cross Flag
$38 3'x5' Nylon
Spanish Cross Flag
$39 3'x5' Nylon
(Cross of Burgundy)
Star Spangled Banner Flag
Taunton Flag #H160
$39 3'x5' Nylon
United East India Company Flag
This flag has been discontinued, but I keep it posted for the
interesting historical information below.
United East India Company Historical Info
USA 48 Star Flag July 4, 1912- July 3 1959
For Our WWII Generation: Thanks Folks
48 Star American Flag
Old Glory had 48 stars from 1912 to 1959. Think of all the events she went through in that time. All historical versions of our flag remain legal and may be properly flown at any time.
Our offering is with heading & brass
grommets fit for outdoor use.
#H46S 3'x5' Nylon
With Sewn Appliquéd Stars and Sewn Stripes; Nylon With
Heading & Grommets MADE IN USA
USA 4x6" Old Glory Parade DESK SET. 27 flags showing the evolution of our flag from 13-50 stars.
$39 Item #OGP1
Viking Raven History Info
$39 Item #H30
The Viking Flag
Washington's Cruisers Flag
$49 3'x5' Nylon
As with most historical flags from the Revolution, there is no
original Washington's Cruisers still existing from the period. We offer two
different possible designs
Washington's Cruisers Flag Version 2
$44.00 3x5' Nylon
As with most historical flags from the
Revolution, there is no original Washington's Cruisers still existing from the
period. We offer two different possible designs
The Development of Old Glory:
By law a star is now added to the American flag on July 4th following the admission of a state to the Union. The following table traces the changes in the US flag since 1777. While many believe the first official flag was the "Betsy Ross" with 13 stars in a circle, many feel it was a "spread star" pattern as shown.
It is still quite proper to fly one of these wonderful "Odd Star" flags. Each is a "legal" flag simply representative of an earlier era and they never become "obsolete." They remain entitled to the same respect as our current day "Old Glory."
Educational and fun to fly
· Thoughtful and unique gift idea
Great for historical homes, sites and schools
Many people with historic homes enjoy flying an historic flag that is from the same period as their home.
The Jonathan Fowle Flag
We thank flag scholar Dave Martucci for the suggestion and
for teaching us the history of this flag. Dave has an extensive series of
flag pages here:
Dave Martucci. Included is an antique flag appraisal and assessment page.
By Dave Martucci
When Boston was founded in 1630, it was immediately recognized that the city was
somewhat vulnerable to attack by sea. Within a few months of the first
settlement, a decision was made to fortify one of the islands in the harbor, one
that stood immediately next to the main shipping channel. This fortification,
originally of logs, was named Castle William and it became the principal
military outpost of the Bay colony.
When the British evacuated Boston in 1776, they destroyed the
fortifications. The Americans immediately began to re-fortify Castle Island.
They again named the fort Castle William and by the close of the Revolutionary
War it was regularly garrisoned with local militia. In 1781, it is reported that
a militia soldier stationed at Castle William by the name of Jonathan Fowle
presented the officers of the fort with a large American Ensign of 13 stars and
stripes measuring approximately 6 feet by 10 feet. No one knows why Mr. Fowle
made this presentation; some speculate he had some connection to a flag maker,
but no one knows for sure. His descendants did not say why, only that it
Custom of the times only required the display of the flag when
foreign ships entered the channel leading past the Castle. It would be hoisted
as soon as a vessel was spotted. An arriving foreign ship was required to hoist
their flag and fire a salute, after which the garrison would briefly dip the
American Flag and return the salute. Dipping the US Flag is no longer done.
The number of guns to fire was the subject to some controversy since the customs
of the times indicated the salute to a Royal Vessel was supposed to be 21 guns,
while the salute to a Republican Vessel was four guns less than offered
(republicans were supposed to fire first at sea). Americans only asked for 13
guns, one for each State, although the controversy escalated in the mid-1820s
when the number of States increased past the 21 mark.
Because the flag was seldom displayed, it had a long life, especially compared
to today when the tendency of Americans is to hoist the flag and leave it flying
until it wears out. Ten years after it was presented, this flag may have become
a part of American History.
Following the end of the American Revolution, a Treaty of Peace
was signed in late 1783 between the US and Great Britain that recognized
American Independence. Although some British merchant vessels very soon arrived
in American waters, no British "Man-of-War" arrived until May 2, 1791 when His
Royal Brittanic Majesty's ship "Alligator", Isaac Coffin, Captain, arrived in
Boston harbor from Halifax. While passing the Castle, the "Alligator" saluted
the American Flag with 13 guns, which was promptly returned by the garrison of
the fort. Some reports indicate the flag that was flying on the Castle was the
same flag that had been presented ten years earlier by Jonathan Fowle.
This was the first instance of a Royal British vessel saluting the American Flag
following the Treaty of Peace, thereby certifying British recognition of
American Independence. On May 3, 1791, the newspaper "Colombian Centinel"
published at Boston said of the event: "This mutual attention to powers, who were
lately hostile to each other, shows the superior liberality of the age in which
we live, and proclaims to the world the verification of that memorable
instrument, the Declaration of Independence, in which our political fathers
declared that they 'should hold the king and subjects of Great Britain as they
did the rest of the world, -- enemies in war; in peace, friends.'"
Some accounts in the family speculate this flag was carried by
militia troops in the War of 1812, but the size of the flag, its manufacture
details, and the customs of the times make this unlikely.
Castle William was ceded to the United States government in 1793 and
subsequently renamed Fort Independence. The island retained the name Castle
Island. In the 1840s, a new fort was constructed on the foundations of the old
one, made of granite and laid out in a 5-pointed star shape. The island is no
longer an island, having become a peninsula of South Boston by land fill. Today
it is a museum open daily to the public in the summer months. The flag has been
preserved over the centuries and now is a part of the Massachusetts State House
For those of you who are not
familiar with the
North American Vexillological Association
(NAVA), if you love
flags you are really missing something by not being a member. I have been one
since the late 1980's and have long enjoyed my membership. There is a regular
newsletter (more of a small magazine really) full of educational flag news and
scholarly articles. There is a more substantial annual jury reviewed journal. There is contact with flag buffs from all over the world.
There is a wonderful web site. Joining this organization and getting the
newsletter would be an educational and enriching experience for anyone. It is
terrific for anyone interested in history, geography, or graphic design. It
would be a stimulating membership for kids. Members
come from all ages and all walks of life. At the NAVA conference in Nashville
there was medical doctor from France, a government protocol official from
Quebec, a few lawyers, a high school custodian, and several authors. I will soon post some pictures
from that event. By the way, I plug NAVA as an interested member of the
organization. NAVA does not endorse The Flag Guys ® or any other business.
It has numerous other commercial members.
Fort Mifflin Home Page
About Fort Mifflin:Quoted
verbatim from the Fort Mifflin web site: "Located
on the scenic Delaware River, Fort Mifflin was originally built by the British
in 1771. It is the site of the largest bombardment the North American continent
has ever witnessed. In 1777, during the American Revolution, a valiant five-week
battle took place when the British Navy attacked Fort Mifflin on Mud Island. The
British had the garrison of approximately 400 Continental soldiers surrounded
from three sides. Attempting to open the supply line for the British Army
already in the Rebel capital of Philadelphia, the British shot over 10,000
cannonballs at the Fort, causing the garrison to eventually evacuate. Over 150
Continental soldiers died as a result of the battle and led Thomas Paine to
write: “The garrison , with scarce anything to cover them but their bravery,
survived in the midst of the mud, shot & shells, and were obliged to give up
more to the powers of time & gunpowder than to military superiority.” This
allowed General Washington and the Continental Army to repair to their winter
quarters in a place called the Valley Forge. Too late in the season for British
General Howe to chase them, the garrison at Fort Mifflin thus extended the war
and allowed the American army time to regroup until the spring of 1778.
During the Revolutionary War the garrison at Fort Mifflin was ordered by General
George Washington to hold off the British Navy so the Continental Army could
make its way to their winter encampment at Valley Forge. Washington wrote that
the defense of the Delaware River was “of the utmost importance to America.” be
When reproducing historical flags, sometimes
there is no 100% way to know their exact design. Absent an actual flag still
surviving, their exact appearance is often a matter left up to interpretation.
For our my research I turned to Dexereaux Cannon, author and flag scholar who
writes his opinion below. As you can see, there is a case to be made for more
than one stripe arrangement of the Mifflin flag. Our is of the version used at
the fort today and known to have been used by American ships of the period.
<<My source for information on these flags is
Standards and Colors of the American Revolution by Edward W. Richardson.
The source for the flags of both Fort Mercer and Fort Mifflin is a sketch made
in October 1777. There are no surviving flags, nor any better depiction from an
original source than that shown in these prints.
In the case of the Fort Mifflin flag, as best as
can be made out from the sketch as reproduced in Richardson’s book, the flag’s
overall dimensions are 1 x 2. In Richardson’s book, and other sources, including
Fort Mifflin, show the stripes as
RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED, so that seems
to be the accepted form, and it does correspond to a 1778 painting showing the
same flag flown on four captured American merchant ships, and to the stripes on
the Grand Union flag flown by the Lexington in 1777. But if I were making an
independent judgment based purely on what I see in the 1777 sketch, I would
shown it with stripes as WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/ WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/
So, to recap, if I were making a replica of the Fort Mifflin flag it would be 3
x 6 feet, with WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/ WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/ WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE
stripes, but I would struggle with making it the usually accepted
RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/RED stripes for
purposes of commercial acceptability, and because that combination is documented
as used by American ships of the period.<<
Then this further update I received 5/28/08 from
a historian at the site on the history of the Fort Mifflin flag:
You have an excellent site and I applaud your flag information accuracy or at
least the attempt to get it correct as best that you can.
Which brings me to the question at hand, the accuracy of the Fort Mifflin flag
and its origins. Your expert, Dexereaux Cannon is correct in his deduction that
the flag would be, (in) his estimation,
WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE/WHITE/RED/WHITE/BLUE. I believe he is
marking his opinion on the John Paul Jones, Franklin or "Serapis" flag that is
mistakenly described as the "first American flag recognized by a foreign power"
when the Dutch fleet were ordered it be "recognized on the high seas as the
colors of a foreign country." Or that he feels that since Fort Mifflin's sister
fort, Fort Mercer had a flag that had blue stripes rather than red, the
distinction by Mr. Cannon can be made about the Fort Mifflin flag. But the Fort
Mifflin flag flew almost a year before Fort Mercer was even manned in the fall
of 1777, so it was the first of the two that appeared.
Our information about the Fort Mifflin flag comes to us from several sources
that detail the flag used by the Pennsylvania Navy, which operated on the
Delaware River in 1777 around Fort Mifflin as a "thirteen striped flag of
alternating red, white and blue stripes." It only serves to believe that Fort
Mifflin would have adopted such a flag as their own and we have examples of one
original flag that survived that shows these colors. One of the sources comes
from the Pennsylvania Navy flags makers records, as well as the U.S. Government
of the time. One, Elizabeth Griscom Ross Claypoole, better known to us as Betsy
Ross. Ross may not have made the first flag as legend suggests, but strong
evidence that Ross did in fact make flags for the government includes a receipt
for her making "ship's colours" for the Pennsylvania Navy in May 1777, as well
as one large garrison flag for the troops on "Mud Island Battery," better known
in history as Fort Mud or Fort Mifflin. It is also probably the source of the
legend that was trumped up certain members of her family in 1876 to cash in on
our country's Centennial celebration, which they did mightily.
Lastly, that Mr. Cannon interprets the drawing from the siege of Fort Mifflin in
the fall of 1777 as having WHITE, RED, WHITE, BLUE, WHITE, RED, WHITE, BLUE,
WHITE, RED, WHITE, BLUE escapes my eyes. I have seen the actual, original water
color drawing by Major John Montressor who was on one of the ships bombarding
the Fort and you can clearly see that the stripes are thirteen; red, white, blue
All that said, things of this nature are always up to interpretation. As an
historian I have learned that you do not use two words; Never and Always. No
sooner than these words are used then a another historian will come along in
preceding years and prove you incorrect. Such is the case with Mr. Cannon and I
Bravo Zulu on a job well done and keep up the good work.
Lee Patrick Anderson
Fort Mifflin on the Delaware
Fort Mifflin & Hog Island Roads
Philadelphia, PA 19153>>
The Viking Flag
, thanks to Michael Faul, editor of Flagmaster, The Journal of
The Flag Institute
" >> Pretty soon you are going to be sick of
hearing from me. That is especially so with regard to the present message. Have
now had a chance to view your historic listings in detail. Sorry to say, but I
must challenge three of them. The first is the Viking raven flag. Yes, I know
that Erik the Red (or his son, Lief Eriksson) reached "Vinland" in the mediaeval
period, long before Columbus. Neither of them brought this flag with them.
Sorry, but that's a fact. It is a common misconception that the Viking raven
flag was a kind of national flag in the modern sense. It was no such thing. The
design, which probably varied considerably, is recorded only five times, and in
each case in connection with a specific leader. In one case the flag was "magic"
and the raven appeared only when the flag flew in battle. Yes, well, maybe .....
Certainly the only case of the flag being recorded outside the British Isles is
a reference to Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, having such a flag, known as "Landwaster".
Fat lot of good it did him, as he was defeated and killed at Stamford Bridge,
just outside York, in 1066. That is the last record of any of these flags.""
My reply: >>So, thank
you for your patience. Remember, I am never bothered by challenges to any flag.
Instead I welcome any chance to get it right. With your permission I will even
post your comments and credit you by name and provide a link to The Flag
Institute. To your comments: I make no claim for the so called Viking flag to be
anything in particular. It is just a cool looking flag that is available here
and its distribution is not of my doing. I will be glad to offer it as what you
now point it out to be. It has been available for years from many sources.
I just try to offer every flag I can. By the way, I make no claim to be a
vexillologist, a scholar or a historian. I am a huge history buff and flag fan.
I do consider myself to be a professional flag merchant. As the latter, I do try
to provide accurate information and products.
Many of the historic flags in my product have
been brought out by me for the first time as far as I can tell. Unlike flags
such as the Viking Raven, those flags I bring out are based on what I consider
to be careful and convincing research done by others whom I credit. Most of
those flags are brought to me by others who make me aware of a cool flag with a
compelling story behind it. Wait until you see what is coming out in January.>>
United East India Company
thanks to Michael Faul, editor of Flagmaster, The Journal of
The Flag Institute
>>The flag you show, of the United East India
Company was indeed used, in the East Indies and at the Cape of Good Hope. Its
only appearance in American waters, was for the original survey of the coasts of
modern Long Island, New York, New Jersey and the Delaware river in about 1620.
In 1623 (if I remember correctly) the Dutch
founded their settlement of New Amsterdam (today New York) when Peter Minuit
bought Manhattan Island for some beads - or so the story goes. Minuit was in the
service of the GWC, the Chartered West India Company. It was this company which
set up New Amsterdam and also founded Dutch settlements in the Caribbean, the
modern Dutch East Indies (or whatever it is they are calling themselves now!).
So the EAST India Company flag never flew over
NewYork, but it was seen in the earlier survey. The flag hoisted over the
settlement of New Amsterdam was that of the WEST India Company, the same design
as the former flag but with the initials GWC combined in the centre.
Just to clarify matters a bit more (or confuse
you completely!) The United East India Company was so-called because it was an
association of six Dutch chambers of commerce in different cities. Each Chamber
in the company had its own flag, in the livery companies of the particular city,
with the VOC monogram surmounted by the city's initial letter. This was never
the case with the West India Company, which was chartered directly by the King
of the Netherlands. (See Flagmaster No 092 for all the flags of the Chambers of
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. Yours
in flags and friendship. Michael Faul
P.S. Just to make your life really miserable, I
should add that the original G.W.C. flag, like the earlier one, was
orange-white-blue. The red-white-blue colours became increasingly accepted in
the mid 17th century, but it was only in about 1670 that they were fully
endorsed as official.>>
thanks to Michael Faul, editor of Flagmaster, The Journal of
The Flag Institute
>>Finally - and most controversially - the flag
of the Alamo. See Flagmaster 125 when published (soon, I promise!). Article on
Mexico deals with this design. The "1824 Flag" was designated by the Texan
Assembly in November 1835 for privateer vessels. There is no record of it having
been used on land. Certainly, by the time the siege of the Alamo began, no-one
in the fort would have accepted a Mexican-pattern flag. The "Coahuila y Tejas"
flag is recorded as being raised in defiance as Santa Anna's Mexican force
reached San Antonio; but it was hoisted for only about five minutes, before the
hoisters took in the size of the Mexican army and decided that discretion was
better than valour. Alamo commander Travis wrote that he brought "a flag" with
him to San Antonio, but no description of it survives.
The only flag known for certain to have been
raised over the Alamo was that of the New Orleans Greys, a volunteer unit from
Louisiana. This flag was raised on the Long Barracks as the final assault began.
It was captured by Lieutenants Torres and Martinez of the Zapadores Batallion,
both of whom were killed in the attack. It is now undergoing restoration in
My Reply: >>And next , The
Alamo. Ah, "The Alamo Flag". I already know about The New Orleans Greys flag.
Apparently you never got a chance to see it on my web site. That is one of the
earliest unique flags I brought to market. It was a great job and we took more
than a year to get the artwork right. A customer had been urging me to do it for
years, and he had a black and white glossy photo of the original badly
deteriorated flag. A Canadian artist did a great job of recreating it. I had a
fine write up on the web site about its history . It was on my web site and in
my catalog for years. I only just recently removed it because I either now had
to produce yet another batch or discontinue it. The batch I would have needed to
make would have been a two year supply and I just did not want to commit that
many to inventory again.
> I just recently sold my only remaining flag "used , as is" to a heritage
organization in Texas who liked my design so much, they were willing to take my
own personal display flag at a discount just to at least have one.
> I continue to offer the "Alamo Flag" only because that is the name everyone
uses for that tri color design. But you are right, I should offer an explanation
of it. The historical info offered with the Greys flag made it clear.>>
Flag design classroom
experiment Dear Al,
I was looking through your website today and was interested to see a comment
regarding the Fort Mercer flag by Devereaux Cannon. He made the statement that
maybe 'the colors were reversed because someone got confused'. Being close to
Philadelphia, the maker of the flag should have had correct information close at
hand, but the flag resolution, being somewhat ambiguous, could have led to the
maker of the flag to getting the wrong information. .... I recently gave a
presentation to two local 5th grade classes on the evolution of the stars and
stripes. For some time now, I've pondered the multitude of versions of the early
stars and stripes and I think Mr. Cannon is correct, people just got the wrong
information. As part of my program, I gave one class specific instructions on
drawing a flag with 3 white and two red stripes with three red stars in the top
white stripe (the flag of Washington, DC). To the other class, I whispered the
instructions for a flag of 3 white stripes, 2 red stripes and 3 red stars to one
student, who then passed the information down the line to five other students,
the last student giving the entire class the instructions. You can imagine the
many versions that came out of that . . . vertical stripes, two thin red stripes
at the bottom, diagonal stripes, stars sprinkled throughout the flag, etc. I
likened the exercise to the folks of 1777 getting their information from a
publication, i.e. newspaper or copy of the flag resolution (class 1) to those
folks more distant who got their information from a traveler, then a neighbor,
then another neighbor, etc. (class 2). At any rate, the kids a had a lot of fun
with it. M.S., Avondale, PA
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