Revolutionary War Flags



Citzens in various towns surrounding Boston, Massachusetts raised flags of protest against the Tea Act enforced by England.  One such town was Taunton where on October 1774 a union flag was raised on the top of a Liberty Pole.  It consisted of a red field with the British Union Jack as a square-shaped canton and the words “Liberty and Union” in white letters extended across the lower portion of the flag.




The flag pictured here is attributed to the Battle of Bunker Hill fought in Charlestown just across the harbor from Boston, Massachusetts.  The battle against the British troops was fought and lost by the Americans on June 17th 1775.  Benson Lossing, a 19th century  American historian, reported that the Americans hoisted the New England flag.  His source was a Mrs. Manning, whose father had fought in the battle and was said to have raised a Pine Tree flag.  No eye witness account of the battle mentions a flag or the “colors” raised.





Washington’s army was made up of different militia units that carried their own flags with a diversity and beauty of their own.  Flag historians are interested in the regimental flags which may have influenced the design of the Stars and Stripes. The first flag is the regimental colors of the Philadelphia Troop of Light Horse.

On the evening of November 17, 1774 twenty-eight wealthy gentlemen of Philadelphia met and formed the troop.  This was the period when American colonies were trying to get satisfaction for their grievances against Great Britain. The first Continental Congress had met in Philadelphia to put forth a resolution to ban importation of British goods.  It was up to the individual colonies to enforce this ban, and these men decided that a military unit would be the best and strongest manner to carry out the ban.  The troop was made up of well-to-do men who supplied their own horses, military equipment and uniforms.  Abraham Markoe, a Philadelphia merchant, who was elected unanimously captain of the Philadelphia Troop of Light Horse decided to contribute a flag to the unit.  He hired John Folwell to design it and James Claypoole to paint it.  This flag was proudly displayed by the troops as it moved around Philadelphia.  It was used approximately three months before the Grand Union flag was hoisted on the Alfred.  Some historians say that Washington saw it when he was being escorted by the troop to New York and was influenced when requesting the design for the Continental Union flag.

The flag consisted of a yellow silk field with silver fringe.  Along the top, bottom and fly end of the flag is a silver leaf design.  The seal was the same design as seen above with the words “For These We Strive” written in the white ribbon.  The British Union Jack was originally painted in the upper left hand corner.  Times and feelings toward the British were changing with each day.  The artist was instructed to paint thirteen silver stripes over the Jack signifying the United Colonies.

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Historical Stars & Stripes

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