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"AWI flags - Mass confusion on the Continental side " Topic

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740 hits since 18 May 2018
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Niall7818 May 2018 10:16 a.m. PST

First I want to say a big 'hello' to everyone. You've been an inspiration for me for the last couple of years and I've found many of the hobby topics most helpful.

Now onto my issue. I'm currently building 28mm AWI armies. A mix of Perry and Warlord at the moment. I've got four militia regiments, a brigade commander and an artillery stand built and painted.

Moving onto my Continental regiments lately I've found I'm completely lost on how many flags these guys carried and what those flags were. I'm thinking a Continental flag and a brigade flag but I really don't have a clue. Any reference books I have don't really specify. Is anyone able to help?

I'm also in the process of painting the Perry 1st Continental Light Dragoons and 17th Light Dragoons as a start to my AWI cavalry forces. The 17th's flag is available at GMB flags but I can't source the 1st's flag anywhere. Does anybody have some suggestions where to purchase this flag? Flags of War also don't carry it.

Thanks for your help in advance. Keep inspiring us (mostly) silent types. I promise to post up some pictures of my work in progress soon to do the same.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

Ah, you've entered the quagmire of AWI flagdom. There is unfortunately very little extant information on what flags the various American regiments carried. As far as I know, the American Continental regiments only carried a single flag, unlike later when the regular Army regiments had two – national colors and regimental colors.

Most likely the 17th Light Dragoons left their flag(s) at home when they deployed to America.

Others will be along later and expand on my comments.

I just use what looks good and seems right when there is no extant information.


Bill N18 May 2018 11:11 a.m. PST

Do not worry about feeling lost when it comes to American flags. Even the experts don't know that much. The best starting point if you have access to it is Richardson's Standards and Colors of the American Revolution which I believe was published in the early 1980s.

As to how many flags, the best guess is that a regiment would have somewhere between zero and five flags, depending on where the regiment was from and the year. A good bet is that most regiments didn't have a flag, or if they had one didn't carry it in battle. (The Waxhaws flags were found in Buford's baggage.)

Many will argue that the stars and stripes were not carried by American forces in battle. There is no evidence that stars and stripes flags were issued to continentals to be used as a national flag for the army. Experts now think two versions of the stars and stripes once thought to date from the AWI are actually War of 1812 era. Still there is evidence that the stars and stripes were flown by troops at the Forts on the Delaware, at a fort in Boston and at the Siege of Yorktown.

For the 1st Continental Light Dragoons I would suggest using the flag for Lee's Legion. Lee's command started out as a troop in that regiment.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2018 11:47 a.m. PST

Keep up the fight, and always remember that our surviving flags and records are only a fraction--and possibly not a good sample--of what was once carried. For myself, I get most of my ideas out of Richardson, but I skew my usage in favor of Washington's expressed preference--a national symbol in the canton, and a field in a color which matches the regiment's facing color. You can get that, but you have to pick your flags and units carefully. I suspect this makes my army a little more uniform than Washington ever consistently achieved, but it looks respectable on the table top, which counts heavily with me.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2018 11:51 a.m. PST

As for a national flag, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. So, I have no objections to my Continentals carrying one a number of "stars and stripes" patterns.

Fridericus18 May 2018 12:40 p.m. PST

My Continentals only carry one flag, and no Stars and Stripes. Some kind of these are reserved for my ships. There is good evidence for this.
We know about quite a number of flags, but there is a lot we don't know anything about. Some regiments were true regiments of battalion strength, others could just as well be called a company. So if there is no evidence, just leave the flag at home.
You can find my regiments at my blog:

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2018 1:58 p.m. PST

Other than a few units I was sure about, I chose flags that I thought looked good.

Jeigheff18 May 2018 7:55 p.m. PST

Good advice from others. You can make reasonable, attractive choices, but will probably have to give up worrying about absolute historical accuracy.

Until today, I'd never heard of Washington's expressed preferences for colors. Thanks Robert!

Winston Smith19 May 2018 9:04 a.m. PST

I've read that some of the Hessian flags captured at Trenton were cut up into scraps for souvenirs. Apparently this happened to many Continental colors if they survived the war. Surviving flags are extremely rare, and almost always due to special circumstances.

The "Tarleton flags" are one example. His men captured them, and they ended up in the Tarleton estate.

The flag of the Philadelphia Light Horse is another example.
The Light Horse was basically a private Gentlemen's club (no, not that kind!) They bought it, they kept it. It's stil on display in their museum.

If we have reliable information on flags for 2% of Patriot flags, we're lucky. If you want each regiment to have its own flag, not an unreasonable desire, you have to make educated guesses. Start with Richardson cited above, and Google "Tarleton flags" for a follow up.

acough2001 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 3:15 p.m. PST

I would agree with 79thPA. Choose the flags that look good. Although my British and Hessians have their proper flags, the Americans would have whatever the state, county, or local civic group would (or could) provide. BTW an excellent source for flags is the Spanish firm, Adolpho Ramos. Their flags are beautifully printed, reasonably priced, and their turnaround time is very fast. They can be found at

You can see how they look at my blog Der Resin Kavalier. Go to

The flags are 40mm scale used with 54's.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP25 Jun 2018 8:14 a.m. PST

I only place on flag with my American units. I use Richardson's book as well.

Niall7808 Jul 2018 3:59 a.m. PST

Sorry for the late reply. Lots of great information in many of the above posts. I'm still clear as mud after another month looking into various unit histories.

I'm going for favour rather than out and out historical accuracy if that makes sense. My forces will be used to recreate all major engagements in the AWI when complete – not focused on one battle. Players trying for complete accuracy must be bald from pulling their hair contemplating unit flags from this era.

Here's what I have so far :

A four regiment militia brigade with mounted commander supported by a Continental six-pounder battery and the 1st Continental Light Dragoons (sporting a Philadelphia Light Horse flag atm because no 1st flag can be found).

Lots of Indians as well – I have another twenty-five nearly painted as well. Purchased before I realised ten or so Indian miniatures would be all I would ever need for most AWI Black Powder battles.

Niall7808 Jul 2018 4:07 a.m. PST

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