Flags Over America

PAGE THREE - REVOLUTION (cont'd)

CULPEPPER
1775

One of the companies in Patrick Henry's First Virginia Regiment, the Culpepper Minutemen under Colonel Stevens were a fierce-looking group of backwoodsmen who wore "Liberty or Death" emblazoned in white on their green hunting frocks. They preferred rifles to muskets, and went into battle with tomahawks and scalping knives.

 

 

GRAND UNION
1775

Combining the Meteor flag with the Sons of Liberty flag, this was first raised at sea on December 3, 1775 by John Paul Jones; and on land on January 1, 1776, on Prospect Hill (then called Mount Pisgah) in Somerville, Massachusetts, when the Continental Army was mustered into formal existence. It received its' name from a reference as the "Grand Union Flag" in one of George Washington's letters. Curiously, this flag was never officially sanctioned by the Continental Congress. Flying aboard a patriot ship, it received the first foreign salute to an American flag from Governor De Graaff of St. Eustatius Island on November 16, 1776.

 

 

FIRST PENNSYLVANIA
RIFLE REGIMENT
1776

This flag belongs in any collection of "national" flags since its' regiment carried it the length and breadth of the land, being the only state regiment to serve during the course of the war in all thirteen states. They distinguished themselves at Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Monmouth and Yorktown, among other battles.

 

 

FIRST NAVY JACK
1776
The earliest of the national "rattlesnake flags", this one flew over the Navy's first ship, the ALFRED, in January, 1776. For more on "rattlesnake flags", click here.

 

 


GADSDEN
1776

First used by Commodore Esek Hopkins when his fleet put to sea in February, 1776, the design was "borrowed" by Colonel Cristopher Gadsden of South Carolina and presented to the Continental Congress.

 

 

 

MOULTRIE
1776

Named for Colonel William Moultrie, this flag flew over Sullivan Island in Charleston Harbor during the battle on June 28, 1776. Sergeant William Jasper risked life and limb several times to replace the flag after it was shot down, inspiring the Americans by his heroism. The British were beaten so badly they didn't renew the war in the south again until 1778. Look for a cresent moon the next time you see the present day state flag of South Carolina.

 

 


BENNINGTON
1777

On August 16, 1777, at Bennington, Vermont, General John Stark defeated a large raiding force sent by Burgoyne to capture American supplies stored there. This presaged the great British defeat at Saratoga. Note that this is the only American flag to begin with a white stripe. The original may be seen in the museum in Bennington.

 

SERAPIS
1779

Ben Franklin wrote the King of Naples in 1778, describing the new American flag as "Having thirteen stripes alternating red, white and blue." In August of 1779, the epic naval battle between the Bonhomme Richard (named for Franklin) and the Serapis took place. When John Paul Jones sailed the battered Serapis into the allied Dutch port of Texel, she was flying this flag.

 

 

COWPENS
1781

Although named after the battle of Cowpens, this was actually the flag of the Third Maryland Regiment of the Continental Line. You can find the original flag in the State House in Annapolis. The Marylanders joined troops from Georgia and Virginia, all under General Daniel Morgan, to decisively defeat British Lieutenant-Colonel Banastre "The Butcher" Tarleton.

 

Guilford Courthouse
1781

One of the bloodiest battles of the war occurred March 15, 1781 at Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina. Under American General Greene, the British inland advance was hurled back to the seacoast by the American militia units, with the British losing a quarter of their troops.

 

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