Page Title: Historical Flags

Defiant Flags

4x6" Historic Desk Flags and Sets        Civil War Flags             Development of Old Glory

Three Brand New Additions From The American Revolution:

10th Massachusetts Regiment Flag

#H182 $49

3x5' dyed nylon design with heading and grommets.

Think of the Latin phrase on the back of the dollar bill: "E Pluribus Unum", Out of Many, One.
The chain link motif would be very important in the new republic. It appears on the first regular issue US coins. The first Senate meeting in Philadelphia from 1790-1800 puts it on its carpet in Congress Hall. The design appears on prints. It symbolizes many states forming a strong unified whole. Could the new union survive under our new Constitution? The 10th MA was already using the motif on its flag during the revolution. The flag was captured by Burgoyne at Ft. Anne, NY. Unit sees action at Saratoga and Monmouth


Proctor's Battalion Flag

#H184 $49

3x5' Dyed nylon design

Unit from PA sees action in Philadelphia campaign, Monmouth, Sullivan expedition and Yorktown

2nd New Hampshire Regiment Flag

#H183 $49

3x5' Dyed nylon design

Regiment serves at siege of Boston. Becomes part of the Continental Army when Washington assumes command


Washington's Life Guard Flag

From our collection of Revolutionary War Flags

Three Flags More Flags of American Defiance:

First Continental Regiment Flag

"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 and grommets

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

#H145 $49.00

3x5' Brilliantly dyed nylon with heading and grommets

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 Revolution."

Whipple flag

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 using the name "American History Flag". He did not call it the "peace flag".

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 versions in 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

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 seventh stripe).

Fort Mercer Flag 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 desired.

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 3-2-3-2-3 pattern.

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

Suffratette Flag; Flag of the National Woman's Party19th Amendment Ratification Banner; Suffragette Flag

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 colonial unity.

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 $12.75

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 interest

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 flag's history.

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 this collection.




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

Washington's Life Guard Flag

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.

Flag Name

Items listed in RED are closeout items subject to prior sale. When they are gone there are no more

  Alamo Flag Historical Info 

Alamo Flag

3'x5' Nylon

$46 Item #ALAMON

Bedford Flag 

Bedford Flag 

#BEDFORDN $52 3'x3' Nylon

Bedford  3'x3' Cotton $59 Item #H76

Bennington Flag

Bennington Flag: 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

Bunker Hill Flag

#H164 $47

3'x5' Nylon

Civil War Flags



California Republic Flag(Bear Flag)

#H165 $45

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 Flag Museum


Coahuila y Tejas Flag

Coahuila y Tejas Flag

#H166 $99.00

3x5' Nylon with sewn appliquéd stars. The Coahuila flag is custom made to order. Allow about 4-5 weeks


Columbus Personal Flag

#167 $46

3'x5' Nylon

Commodore Perry Flag 

Commodore Perry Flag

#H155 $49.00

3'x5' Nylon


Confederate Flags



Continental Flag



Continental Flag

#H168 $42.00

3x5' Nylon



Cowpens Flag 

Cowpens  Flag

#H125 $42

3x5' Nylon

Dyed stars and stripes

Culpepper Flag 

Culpepper Flag

#H159  $49.00

3X5' Nylon

 Easton Flag

 As seen on the US Postage Stamp in the year 2000 series

Easton Flag

#H54 $59

3'x5' Nylon Dyed stars and stripes

Eighth Air Force Flag


First Navy Jack Flag 

First Navy Jack

Fort Moultrie  Flag 

Fort Moultrie  Flag

#H157 $48

3'x5' Nylon

Francis Hopkinson Flag 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 

French Fleur-de-lis  Flag blue

#H169 $42

3'x5' Nylon

French Fleur-de-lis  Flag white 

French Fleur-de-lis  Flag white

#H170 $48

3'x5' Nylon

French Fleur-de-lis  Flag 23

French Fleur-de-lis  Flag 23

#H171 $48.75

3'x5' Nylon


French Royal Standard Flag  


French Royal Standard Flag

#H150 $49.00

3x5' Nylon with heading and grommets

Gadsden Flag

Gadsden Flag

Don't Tread On Me Flag, the favorite Tea Party Flag

George Rogers Clark Flag

George Rogers Clark Flag

#H154 $49

3x5' Nylon with heading and grommets. Sewn stripes

Gonzales Banner "Come and Take it Flag"

#H28 $49

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 


Grand Union  Flag

#H158 $42

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)

Great Star Flag

#H172 $41

3x5' Nylon

There were many versions of "Great Star" flags in which the star pattern itself formed a star.

Green Mountain Boys  Flag

Green Mountain Boys  Flag

#H163 $43

3'x5' Nylon

Guilford Courthouse Flag  


Guilford Courthouse Flag

#H126 $42

3'x5' Nylon




Kings Colors Flag

Kings Colors Flag

$5.99 Item #H66 3x5' Polyester

Kings Colors Flag

#H172 $29 2x3' Nylon

#H174 $43 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.

It has 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

#H107 $49

3x5' 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

Royal Standard of Spain  Flag

#H179 $45

3'x5' Nylon

Also called Lions and Castles

Lord Baltimore Flag 

Lord Baltimore Flag

#H175 $42

3x5' Nylon

Philadelphia Light Horse Flag 

Philadelphia Light Horse Flag

#H176 $54

3'x5' Nylon

Pine Tree  Flag

Pine Tree  Flag

#H177 $49

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 #H153 $49

3x5' dyed nylon with canvas heading and brass grommets

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 #H152 $49

3x5' dyed nylon with canvas heading and brass grommets

Fremont's running mate was William Dayton of New Jersey

This flag was used by Fremont supporters in Ohio




Rhode Island Regiment  Flag

Rhode Island Regiment  Flag

#H179 $41

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

Russian American Company Flag

#H88 $53.00

3x5' Nylon

Lasting from 1799 to 1881, the company's flag had many slight variations over its history.


General Schuyler's Flag



Schuyler's Flag #H161 $49

3x5' Dyed nylon design finished with canvas heading and brass grommets

General Schulyer

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


Serapis  Flag

Serapis  Flag

#H102 $42

3'x5' Nylon


Sons of Liberty Flag

St. George's Cross  Flag

St. George's Cross  Flag

#H180 $42

3'x5' Nylon

Spanish Cross Flag

Spanish Cross Flag

#H181 $42

3'x5' Nylon

(Cross of Burgundy)

Star Spangled Banner Flag

General Sullivan's Flag


Sullivan's Flag #H162 $49

3x5' Dyed nylon design finished with canvas heading and brass grommets

General 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 Iroquois in western New York.


Taunton  Flag

Taunton  Flag

#H160 $42

3'x5' Nylon

Union Flags

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 3x5' 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.


USA 48 Star  Flag

#H46S $114

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 


Viking Flag

#H30 $49

3x5' Nylon



Washington's Cruisers Flag Version 1


Washington's Cruisers Flag

Version 1

#H129 $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


Washington's Cruisers Flag

Version 2

#H129EX $45.00

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 War Between The States

Confederate Flags

Confederate pins, stickers, books, music, clothes, gravemarkers, novelties

Union Flags

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 happened.

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 Flag Collection.

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 told

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/ 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:

>>Good Morning,

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 alternating stripes.

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 someday.

Bravo Zulu on a job well done and keep up the good work.

Lee Patrick Anderson
Executive Director
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 the EIC).

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.>>


Alamo Flag 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 Mexico City.<<

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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