~~~~~ Pictures from the unveiling - March 4, 2006 ~~~~~
Many thanks to Bill Stroud for putting this informational page together
FAQ about the Flag of the 11th PA Regt.
CLICK HERE to see all the Gostelowe Flags
|Is this the
Flag of the 11th PA?
This is our best guess. Our flag is based on the “Gostelowe Return.” Among the papers of the Continental Congress at the National Archives is an extensive inventory or “return” of arms and other military stores on hand for the months of July and August 1778 at Philadelphia and outlying stores and repair locations. The Return was prepared by Philadelphia Major Jonathan Gostelowe, one of the Commissaries of Military Stores for Lt. Col. Benjamin Flower, Commissary General of Military stores for the Continental Army. A separate section of the report is titled “A Retrun of ye New Standards and Division Colours for ye Army of ye United States of America In the Possession of Major Jonathan Gostelowe, Com’y Mil’y Stores.” The report lists 13 Standards (Colors/Flags) that were in his possession at the time of the report. As there were 13 Flags or “Standards” listed, and as 13 Continental Regiments were raised in Pennsylvania at that time, circumstantial evidence suggests that these were from the same regiments. Naturally, as 13 standards were listed and we are the 11th PA regiment, we chose number 11. Edward W. Richardson, author of “Standards and Colors of the American Revolution” states that the thirteen standards listed by Gostelowe were “probably made for the 13 Pennsylvania Continental Regiments”. In any case we are fairly certain that Pennsylvania regiments fought under this Standard.
What does the flag mean?
The flags carried by the American armies of the revolution were individualistic to each regiment, and were specifically designed silk “colors” on which were painted or embroidered symbolic emblems. The emblems were based on old world heraldic as well as new world symbolism. This included an unbelievable variety of objects. These included such things as the beehive, rattlesnake, eagle, lion, bear, women, children, Indians, liberty poles, victory wreaths, liberty caps, bows and arrows, harps, swords, and angels. Masonic symbols were also found to be used. The “Union” of the colonies, was often represented with thirteen stripes, swords, stars, chain links, or hands. On many of the colors were Latin or English mottos as well as unit designations.
The Gostelowe Return, on which our flag is based, lists 13 standards with different iconographic descriptions. The description of standard number 11 lists an Indian representing America, laying his hand on a liberty Cap, which is atop a liberty pole, with his bow strung and an arrow in it representing defense and vigilance. His dog, representing loyalty, is next to him. The motto “This is mine and I will defend it” is in gold ribbon beneath his feet.
Were all flags made in this fashion?
Some of the Colors were elaborate while others very simple. Almost all Colors carried by infantry were made of lightweight solid color silk. These were readily visible on the field and would easily stream in a light breeze, or when on parade. The devices or symbols were usually painted on the silk with oil paints or sometimes dyed, and in some cases, elaborate embroidery was used. Colors of mounted troops were usually smaller in size, and were fringed; but those of foot or infantry units were generally larger and had no fringe.
Why are there 13 stars on the flag?
Thirteen Stars represent the 13 Colonies. They appear on our Standard in a rectilinear pattern, rather than a circular one because that pattern is more in keeping with the configuration of other Standards of the same period.
Who carried the flag?
Carrying the Standard on parade or in battle was the job of the “Ensign”. The Continental Army took many military traditions from the British. Among these traditions was the order of Rank. In the British Army of the 18th Century, Ensign was the lowest Commissioned officer rank. In Von Steuben’s “Regulations for the Discipline of the Troops of the United States”, the job of Ensign is described. “The Ensign is in a particular manner charged with the cleanliness of the men, to which he must pay the greatest attention. When the Company parades and whilst the Captain and Lieutenant are examining the arms and accoutrements, the ensign must inspect the dress of the soldiers, observing weather they are clean, and everything about them in the best order possible, and duly noticing any who in these respects are deficient. He must be very attentive to the conduct of the non commissioned officers, observing that they do their duty with the greatest exactness; that they support a proper authority, and at the same time do not ill treat the men through any pique or resentment. As there are only two colours to a regiment the ensign must carry them by turns, being warned for that service by the adjutant. When on that duty they should consider the importance of the trust reposed in them; and when in action, resolve not to part with the colours but with their lives. As it is by them that the battalion dresses when marching in line, they should be very careful to keep a regular step, and by frequent practice accustom themselves to march straight forward to any object,”
Did all regiments have flags?
There were apparently many hundreds of colors for the American Revolutionary Army, Marine, and Navy. By 1777, the American Continental Army alone had over 100 authorized regiments, totaling about 38,000 men. In addition, there were many “State” or local Militia units, probably as many as the Continental Army. Each Regiment carried a “stand” of two, three, or more colors. The thirteen sets, or stands listed in the Gostelowe Return states that each set of Regimental Standards had two “division colors” of simpler design, each of a different color. While some regiments may have had only one color, the records indicate that many had two or three. Therefore it is likely that something on the order of one hundred or more regimental standards, one to two hundred division colors, and several hundred or more state regimental, battalion, company, and troop colors and standards originally existed at various times for a total of at least five hundred or more. Twenty-five original colors survive to this date. There are descriptions of about another one hundred. Those that have not survived were lost through wear and tear, souvenir hunters, natural deterioration and neglect.
How is the flag made? Why is it so large?
Among the collections of the Smithsonian Museum there is an original Standard of the period. Standard #1 of the 13 listed and described in the Gostelowe return matches this surviving silk flag that belonged to the Headman family. It was passed down through the family from Sergeant Francis William Headman who served with the Philadelphia Militia. It has become known as “the Headman color”. The Headman color measures 70 inches on the “hoist”, which is the side of the standard attached to the pole, by 78 inches approximately on the “fly”, or the length of the standard. It is made of green silk, and has painted iconography. The measurement of 70x78 inches gives us a good representation of the sizes of the rest of the standards in the Gostelowe return. Typical foot regiment standards were about six feet square consisting of two horizontal seamed lengths of twenty-eight inch wide silk.
Our reproduction uses several methods of coloring and construction. First, white silk was obtained, sewn together in the 3 panel sections (front and back) and then treated with a “wax resist” method and all untreated areas were dyed sky blue. (This is how we were able to have white silk showing in the cloud areas while having the rest of the flag the sky blue color.) Then, removing the wax and reapplying it to other places, areas were masked out and dyed according to the color needed in specific areas. Once the dying of the silk was complete, it was treated with a mixture of soda ash, iron, and vinegar to get the dyes to be color fast, and then the painting began. This brought out the detail in the design and was layered as needed. We then took delivery of both sides from the artist, and assembled them, applied the silk stars via an appliqué stitching method, and finished with the pole pocket.
How is a flag properly used?
Regimental flags were primarily used on the battalion level. One Standard and two smaller signaling colors would have been present per regiment in the battalion. Each regimental flag would have had a “color guard” assigned to it, it’s primary purpose being to protect the colors at all cost, thus, these men would hold their fire until such time that they were threatened. While we have not been able to locate proper maneuvers/manuals for our drill (The Manual of Arms of 1764), there is some documentation in Von Steuben’s manual:
Instructions to the Colour Guard
When on that duty, they should consider the importance of the trust reposed in them; and when in action, resolve not to part with colours but with their lives. As it is by them the battalion dresses when marching in line, they should be very careful to keep a regular step, and by frequent practice accustom themselves to march straight forward to any given objective.
1. The Colour Guard shall consist of 1 Ensign, 11 Privates, and 1 NCO.
2. The Colour Guard shall be formed thusly at the center of the Battalion line.
P P P E P P P
P P P S P P P
3. Those soldiers assigned to the Colour Guard shall be chosen from those veteran soldiers who display the honour of the Battalion as this duty is of the utmost importance to the security and safety of the Battalion.
4. Those soldiers assigned to the colour guard shall hold their fire in battle, waiting until such time as the colours might be in danger from the enemy. At this point, the colour guard must expend every effort to insure the safety of the Battalion colours.
5. When the Battalion is encamped and not in use with the Battalion on the Parade, the Battalion Colours shall be posted to the front of the Adjutant’s tent at the center of the Battalion front.
Of Marching with Colours
The following are instructions to the Ensign when the Battalion is Marching in Line.
Battalion! Forward !
At this caution the ensign with the colours advances six paces; the serjeant who covered him, taking his place. The whole are to dress by the colours (Note: this does not mean the whole is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the colour guard). The commandant of the battalion will be posted two paces in front of the colours, and will give the ensign an object to serve as a direction for him to march straight forward. Note that the Ensign will also serve to set the pace of the Battalion (along with the drums). It is therefore critical that the Ensign maintain an even, steady pace.
The Ensign who carries the colours will be careful to march straight to the object given him by the colonel; to do which, he must fix on some intermediate object (e.g. The Commandant instructs the Ensign to march toward a tree at the far end of the field. The Ensign should try to find some other object in direct line to the tree such as a fencepost, tree, hillock, etc. In this way the Ensign can line up on both objects and insure that he is marching in a straight line).
If many Battalions are in the line, the Ensigns must dress by the Ensign in the center of the line. If there are only two, they will dress by each other. They must be very careful not to advance beyond the battalion they are to dress by, it being much easier to advance than to fall back.
Should a Battalion by any cause be hindered from advancing in line with the rest, the Ensign of that Battalion must drop his colours, as a signal to the other Battalions (who might otherwise stop to dress by them) not to conform to their movements; the colours to be raised again when the Battalion has advanced to its post in the line.
The officers commanding platoons will continually have an eye over them (the colours), immediately remedying any defect, carefully dressing with the center, and keeping step with the colours.
The whole stop short on the feet then advanced.
Dress to the Right!
The men dress to the right, and the colours fall back into the ranks.
As in the instructions for all of the above movements, the entire Battalion will take their direction and dress in all Battalion formations. This includes the passage of defiles, displaying from column into line, retiring, and etc…
This being said, it is incredibly difficult to do proper justice to our regimental flag unless we are chosen to be the battalion colors or on parade, as there are so few of us to compose the “regiment.” However, there are a number of times in the season that may provide this opportunity (at larger CL shows or events that we sponsor) that will make this a welcome addition to our unit and our hobby.
What are some good sources to learn more about Flags and Standards of the American Revolution?
This FAQ was compiled using two very good sources on Standards of the Revolution and their use. Standards and Colors of the American Revolution by Edward W. Richards, Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press and the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution and Its Color Guard, 1982. (Library of Congress 82-050447; ISBN 0-8122-7839-9.) Baron Von Steuben and his Regulations by Joseph R. Riling, Philadelphia: Ray Riling Arms Book Co, 1966. (Library of Congress 66-25167).
Detail of flag tip and bottom ferrule
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