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"Who held up Washington's standards?" Topic


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Au pas de Charge12 May 2021 11:48 a.m. PST

Assuming our hero was accompanied by his stellar flag into battle, who carried it? An ADC, A light dragoon, a foot soldier from his bodyguard? Different people on different occasions?

historygamer12 May 2021 2:44 p.m. PST

I've struggled to find this answer as well. Washington's Life Guard seems to have been foot, not horse. You can't tell who is holding Washington's standard in the Princeton painting. My best guess is that if his HQ standard took to the field, it was likely carried by a junior officer from a cavalry unit detached to HQ duty. Perhaps someone else might have more info.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP12 May 2021 3:08 p.m. PST

That flag has always puzzled me too. Yes, we see it at Princeton.
And, yes. Who carried it?
How big was his Bodyguard, as well as what were they?

historygamer12 May 2021 3:43 p.m. PST

His Life Guard seemed to be infantry. They fought in some battles as such. But it was not a big unit, and had to be rebuilt at least once. Washington was big on emulating the British military, one he served with on two campaigns. Colours were supposed to be carried by junior officers. I suspect if his HQ flag took to the field, it was carried by an officer.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 May 2021 5:11 p.m. PST

Someone in his military "family" certainly--assuming it really was carried into battle--paintings not being binding on reality. And it would need to be someone on horseback. Could have been an ADC or a mounted officer of his Life Guard, or an escort cavalry unit--at Princeton, probably from the Philadelphia City Troop, or later the Connecticut Light Dragoons. But if I had to place money, I'd consider his personal "servant" William Lee, a slave from Mount Vernon with him clear through the Revolution and mentioned as an excellent horseman. If you google a bit, you can find possible images of him in uniform.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP12 May 2021 5:23 p.m. PST

Someone in his military "family" certainly--assuming it really was carried into battle--paintings not being binding on reality.

Bite your tongue, Sir!
grin

advocate12 May 2021 11:59 p.m. PST

Next you'll be telling me not to rely on Hollywood!

42flanker13 May 2021 2:37 a.m. PST

Tell that to the Marines!

historygamer13 May 2021 5:15 a.m. PST

"But if I had to place money, I'd consider his personal "servant" William Lee, a slave from Mount Vernon with him clear through the Revolution and mentioned as an excellent horseman. "

I must respectfully disagree on this one. Washington was all about formality, protocol, and decorum of an 18th century gentleman and military officer. There is no way he would allow/sanction a non-military person to carry his HQ flag. Just no way.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 6:49 a.m. PST

The painting The Battle of Princeton by James Peale (1782) clearly shows Washington's headquarter flag near the general but not who is carrying it.

However, there is a cavalryman (probably of the Philadelphia Light Horse) near it, so a best-guess would be that one of that company/troop may be carrying the flag. The unit was present at both Trenton and Princeton.

historygamer13 May 2021 6:58 a.m. PST

It's as good a guess as any. I have a cavalry officer carrying the flag, alongside Washington.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 8:04 a.m. PST

Point taken, historygamer. But of course anything saying someone would or would not have done something is uncertain to a degree. I'm not committed to William Lee, but he seems to me to be a reasonable possibility. It's not as though "commander's standard-bearer" was a manning document position.

But as Brechtel says, looking strictly at Trenton and Princeton a junior officer of the City Troop would certainly be a possibility.

historygamer13 May 2021 8:14 a.m. PST

I am not clear if the flag was even carried in the field, or simply used to designate his HQ location. The Princeton battlefield artwork is something, but could just be artistic license. Hard to say. I'm not aware of any first person accounts of people remarking on seeing his flagon the field.

That said, I do have the flag on my Washington Command stand, carried by a Dragoon officer.

And to flip to the other side, British officers did not have any such designators.

I'm not aware of any in the period in between, but such flags certainly made their appearance in the Union Army of the Potomac during the ACW period.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 11:53 a.m. PST

I like the William Lee nomination. Southern planters/gentlemen had body servants, and they were typically mounted, often on the second best horse in the stables. AND often were armed. In many cases the master and the slave were about the same age, and perhaps nursed at the same breasts. They grew up together and went off to war together. It was a feudal sort of relationship.

Au pas de Charge13 May 2021 11:54 a.m. PST

According to Internationally acclaimed painter, Jon McNaughton at least one standard of Washington's was carried by an angel.


link

historygamer13 May 2021 12:07 p.m. PST

Doc, you can like whatever you like. The question is, do you have any evidence to support what you like? I like the idea that Martha, in drag, carried it. Of course I have no evidence to support that either. LoL

The notion by anyone that someone other than a military officer would have carried that flag betrays a complete lack of reading and understanding of the man.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 12:33 p.m. PST

Trumbull's 1780 portrait shows GW in uniform and Lee beside him -- possibly in uniform.

historygamer13 May 2021 3:28 p.m. PST

More likely in livery clothing.

Can you link or post the portrait you're talking about?

historygamer13 May 2021 3:47 p.m. PST

I found it. It's a man and his groom. Very period, and very made up for a European audience. Read the background about the painting.

jgreaney13 May 2021 3:49 p.m. PST

He means this, which appears to show Lee in a blue coat with red collar and cuffs and possibly a red waistcoat. My guess would be that it's livery given the turban – but that line becomes a bit blurred if we consider that Washington, as CinC, presumably would have wanted his slave dressed for the occasion.

For the record, I also doubt Lee carried the standard (if it was carried at all). For in whatever personal regard Washington held Lee I can't see him giving any slave that role.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 4:54 p.m. PST

Don't know means don't know, but modern ideas about slavery may fail to appreciate the feudal relationship that often existed between the planters and their house servants. Of course GW did not think of Lee as his equal, but he didn't think of any white man that way, either!

If I doubted that Lee carried the standard, it would be because he had his hands full carrying Washington's telescope and such.

Southern cavalry units certainly had uniformed slaves as musicians.

jgreaney13 May 2021 6:51 p.m. PST

And very famously European regiments of all sorts fell about themselves to get African musicians, which is surely the tradition that the Continentals were following.

However, musicians were not officers, unlike ensigns and cornets.

historygamer13 May 2021 6:54 p.m. PST

If you read the wiki writeup about the history of this painting, that days all you need to know. I'll go one step further and say that uniform on Washington, like outfit Billy Lee is pictured in, is sheer fantasy for the viewing audience. There is no record of Washington with a laced coat during the AWI.

Au pas de Charge13 May 2021 8:12 p.m. PST

Southern cavalry units certainly had uniformed slaves as musicians.

Oh? Tell me more.

There is no record of Washington with a laced coat during the AWI


We need to shed some light on this matter:

link

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2021 8:16 p.m. PST

It's not a contemporary painting, but we've all seen the illustration of Col. William Washington vs Tarlington at Cowpens, with the black trumpeter firing his pistol.

link

Guesswork, but the Park Service uses it.

Au pas de Charge13 May 2021 9:15 p.m. PST

…modern ideas about slavery may fail to appreciate the feudal relationship that often existed between the planters and their house servants.

And modern apologists tend to romanticize slavery and soften it's appalling reality with self-comforting stories that it was really just a job…like any other.


I understand that Washington and Lee had a relationship closer to a 70s sitcom; Lee would hide Washington's teeth in Martha's ice cream and they'd all have a belly laugh over it when the ladies from town found it in their praline surprise.

Of course, Lee would get 200 lashes after that but hey, what price comedy?

Does it bother you at all that you think a feudal relationship is both a cut above slavery and something that is admirable in its own right?


Of course GW did not think of Lee as his equal, but he didn't think of any white man that way, either!

Oh I see now, so really, if you think about it, being a slave was just like being any other white dude? I understand the term "slave" was just a cover for George to keep Billy around so they could engage in their madcap antics.

Martha would say "Hey George, can you take the horse apples out to the trash?" and George would reply "Sorry Martha, gotta take Billy back to his slave quarters." Then the two of them would muffle their laughter, tiptoe past the mansion and go bowling or smoke hemp together and make fun of Martha's horrible flag making skills.

It's really too bad that revisionists had to come along and cheapen a true friendship.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 3:17 a.m. PST

And modern apologists tend to romanticize slavery and soften it's appalling reality with self-comforting stories that it was really just a job…like any other.

Definitely +1

Well said and I completely agree.

The Founders attempted to abolish slavery with the Declaration of Independence, but the Carolinas and Georgia refused to agree with independence if slavery were abolished. As the issue was independence, the 'offending' paragraph in the draft of the Declaration was removed.

After the War of 1812 the overriding domestic issue in the United States was slavery-either its remaining or it being abolished. And that led to a civil war with over 630,000 dead Americans and slavery finally abolished.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 4:32 a.m. PST

Charge, how about reacting to what I said instead of what you THINK I said? If you don't understand something, ask, and I'll try to explain it.

And modern apologists tend to romanticize slavery and soften it's appalling reality with self-comforting stories that it was really just a job…like any other.

Does it bother you at all that you think a feudal relationship is both a cut above slavery and something that is admirable in its own right?

What bothers me is unwarranted accusations and implied personal attacks. Climb down off your high horse.

Slavery is evil, slavery is evil, slavery is evil. It should not be necessary to say that over and over to avoid being called an apologist for an evil system by the ignorant, but evidently that is too much to hope for.

You are confirming that you do not in fact understand the nature of the evils of slavery, where the house servants were concerned. It wasn't whips and chains and bloodhounds that were the worst: imprisoning bodies is not as bad as imprisoning minds and souls. Read some books. Genovese's ROLL JORDAN ROLL is a good start. So is Mary Chesnut's DIARY FROM DIXIE. Slavery was complex, as all human systems are, and its nature with regards to field hands on large plantations was quite different from the situation of house servants, or of slaves on small farm, or in southern towns. A facile condemnation of slavery as an EVIL SYSTEM is a good place to start, but having said that truth, we then want to try to UNDERSTAND it. Because that is what historians do.

I hope that is not too subtle for you and Kevin.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 8:10 a.m. PST

Gentlemen, are we not wandering away from miniature warfare into matters better addressed on political or history sites?

What have we got pertinent to the question? Agreed that carrying a standard would usually be a job for a cornet. (Were any NCO's assigned such duty in period?) But we don't have a real unit here. Washington's ADC's were lieutenant colonels, who had other responsibilities on the day of battle. There was no permanent escort cavalry. The City Troop was present at Trenton and Princeton, but not for a number of other engagements. The Connecticut Light Horse (2nd Contl Light Dragoons)Frequently acted as a bodyguard unit, but not prior to the spring of 1777. He COULD have mounted an ensign from his Life Guards. He COULD have given the standard to William Lee. (I agree his status as slave and civilian is an objection. I'm not sure it's a decisive one. People are continually doing things I would say were unlikely or inconsistent.)

Have we got any other possibilities? And have we any evidence outside of the painting that the flag was carried?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 8:41 a.m. PST

I have painted Washington's command flag in 54mm and it is carried by a Philadelphia Light Horse trooper in my cavalry contingent.

Au pas de Charge14 May 2021 8:52 a.m. PST

I notice a lot of wargamers use a 3rd light dragoon std bearer to hold George Washington's HQ flag. Others use a foot soldier from GW's bodyguard or what looks like an ADC.

I think people use the 3rd light dragoons because it is just generally a favorite unit. But from Brechtel's painting it looks like the Philadelphia troop or the bodyguard are more likely candidates. I agree that an ADC was probably too needed for communications to simply carry a standard around on the day of battle.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 11:48 a.m. PST

The Philadelphia Light Horse was present in the Trenton/Princeton campaign, and in the operations around Philadelphia in 1777-1778.

They had also escorted Washington from Philadelphia to New Rochelle on his way to assume command of the American Army.

The 3d Continental Light Dragoons would be a good choice as they were associated with Washington because of their first commander, George Baylor. It should also be noted that they went south after Camden in August 1780.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 12:23 p.m. PST

I have FifeandDrum's Nathaniel Greene mounted with a 3rd CD trooper on the stand, but no standard. (Brigadiers are mounted alone on round bases, and higher ranks with one or two additional figures on larger round bases. But no flags. The kids who play with my toys don't care about names but need to be able to pick out command levels.)

historygamer14 May 2021 1:49 p.m. PST

I do the same, doc. Higher levels get three to a stand.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 7:09 p.m. PST

"Ordinary" generals get rectangular stands. "Big Shot" generals get round ones.

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 8:28 p.m. PST

doc, John, and historygamer, do the different size command stands coincide with different command radius in the rules that you use?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2021 9:12 p.m. PST

Not particularly in my case. But it can, because I use a variety of rules. None so far had a varying command radius.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2021 6:56 a.m. PST

I'm in the same situation as the OFM. I use my own rules which morph regularly, but am heavily influenced by Hill's JOHNNY REB in that generals have both command radii and also tactical and morale effects on the unit they accompany. But my games are typically played by students and now by grandkids who like a visual reminder of who's the boss.

historygamer15 May 2021 1:07 p.m. PST

I play British Grenadier. See our FB group. Command radius for all generals is 12 inches. I'll share some thoughts later on command.

Au pas de Charge10 Jun 2021 7:03 a.m. PST

Im thinking of getting the 3rd light dragoons in white coats.


A separate vignette stand will have a mtd. Gen. Washington and a mtd dragoon holding his personal standard.

Question is, is it more aesthetically pleasing for the collection to also make the dragoon from the 3rd dragoons to mirror the separate cavalry unit? Or, should he be in a brown coat like the Philadelphia light horse?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2021 7:08 a.m. PST

…modern ideas about slavery may fail to appreciate the feudal relationship that often existed between the planters and their house servants.

Really?

Perhaps some examples would help…

Black 'house servants' were still slaves.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2021 7:13 a.m. PST

I have a selection of the 3d Continental Light Dragoons in 54mm (Imrie/Risley) as well as the Philadelphia City Troop of Light Horse.

I would suggest that the latter carried Washington's command flag in the Trenton/Princeton campaign(s), and that the 3d Continental Light Dragoons might have sometime after.

They did go south with William Washington ca 1780, however, so they would have been unavailable as standard bearers.

Au pas de Charge10 Jun 2021 7:24 a.m. PST

I have a selection of the 3d Continental Light Dragoons in 54mm (Imrie/Risley) as well as the Philadelphia City Troop of Light Horse.

I would suggest that the latter carried Washington's command flag in the Trenton/Princeton campaign(s), and that the 3d Continental Light Dragoons might have sometime after.

They did go south with William Washington ca 1780, however, so they would have been unavailable as standard bearers.

Must be a nice collection. Do you also buy the W. Britains 54mm AWI figures?

I appreciate your considered historical opinion but I was asking mostly from a standpoint of aesthetics; is it nicer to have Washington's std bearer mirror the stand alone dragoon uniforms or is it more pleasing for his personal std bearer to wear a different uniform from the main unit?

Au pas de Charge10 Jun 2021 7:30 a.m. PST

…modern ideas about slavery may fail to appreciate the feudal relationship that often existed between the planters and their house servants.

Really?

Perhaps some examples would help…

Black 'house servants' were still slaves.

I know, as if Billy were the "Jeeves" to Washington's "Wooster", except that Billy could be bought and sold and, from time to time, had to surrender a few teeth for Washington's denture collection.


If it was such a wholesome, symbiotic relationship, then why didn't everyone just free their slaves?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2021 9:10 a.m. PST

It wasn't wholesome. Why do you imagine that I think it was? But it was DIFFERENT from the relationship with a field hand the owner never spoke to.

The planter was probably nursed and then raised by a black woman, and her own child was probably the planter child's playmate and then later body servant (males) or maid (females). So yes, the analogy with British upstairs and downstairs has some validity. But only some, of course, because they were indeed still slaves, as Kevin reminds us, in case we might overlook or forget that.

Try to forget all the mis-conceptions you have been taught. Go read Chesnut's DIARY FROM DIXIE to get a clear sense of the relationship.

Virginia Tory10 Jun 2021 9:14 a.m. PST

We all know is flag was carried by some guy in a coonskin hat and buckskins… :D

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2021 9:20 a.m. PST

Here are two episodes from Mary Chesnut. If you don't understand what is going on, you don't understand the nature of slavery in the Old South, as it was lived by the planter class and their house servants.

March 26 1861 John Chesnut is a pretty soft-hearted slave-owner. He had two negroes arrested for selling whisky to his people on his plantation, and buying stolen corn from them. The culprits in jail sent for him. He found them (this snowy weather) lying in the cold on a bare floor, and he thought that punishment enough; they having had weeks of it. But they were not satisfied to be allowed to evade justice and slip away. They begged of him (and got) five dollars to buy shoes to run away in. I said: "Why, this is flat compounding a felony." And Johnny put his hands in the armholes of his waistcoat and stalked majestically before me, saying, "Woman, what do you know about law?"

 Wednesday. – I have been mobbed by my own house servants. Some of them are at the plantation, some hired out at the Camden hotel, some are at Mulberry. They agreed to come in a body and beg me to stay at home to keep my own house once more, "as I ought not to have them scattered and distributed every which way." I had not been a month in Camden since 1858. So a house there would be for their benefit solely, not mine. I asked my cook if she lacked anything on the plantation at the Hermitage. "Lack anything?" she said, "I lack everything. What are corn-meal, bacon, milk, and molasses? Would that be all you wanted? Ain't I been living and eating exactly as you does all these years? When I cook for you, didn't I have some of all? Dere, now!" Then she doubled herself up laughing. They all shouted, "Missis, we is crazy for you to stay home."

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2021 9:31 a.m. PST

Dragging this back to the title of the thread, I Googled the painting that Kevin mentioned before the derailment.
From the position of the flag, and how it appears to be bunched and at what height, it appears to be carried by someone on the ground.
There is indeed a Philadelphia Light Horse trooper adjacent to it, but he could also be part of Washington's "staff".
Nobody identifiable can be seen holding the flag. So I guess it can be whatever figure you have.
Firing Line Miniatures, now sadly extinct with molds scattered, did both my mounted LH, and my dismounted.
Kings Mountain make dismounted dragoons. I believe Perry do also.
Or you could use Associator infantry. KMM make them too.
You can get bespoke Washington's Bodyguard figures, but I doubt such a uniform would be available at Princeton.
So, in my opinion, nothing is definite. But several companies make the flag, so go for it.

And now we return to our "Slavery wasn't really all that bad", debate. I apologize for trying to return to the subject of the title of this thread.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2021 9:38 a.m. PST

There were certainly vicious, cruel masters, though public sentiment ran against them. But the Chesnuts were probably close to the norm.

The evil of slavery lies in the fact that the slaves had no control over who owned them. It is a close analogy with prison guards. Being incarcerated is never good, but how BAD it is depends very much on who is in charge.

Humans form attachments, and most of us do not WANT to be cruel. Cruelty may still result, of course, but not always as we imagine it. The two Chesnut diary entries show paternalism. This is a bad thing (except from a real loving father to his immature children) but its badness lies in adults being treated as children. It is rarely a matter of whips and chains and dogs.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP10 Jun 2021 9:40 a.m. PST

And John, nobody has said "slavery was not that bad." Please try to understand what I AM saying, which isn't that.

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