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"Who held up Washington's standards?" Topic


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Old Contemptible19 Jun 2021 6:30 p.m. PST

Agreed. Anyone who has watched the Antiques Road Show knows about family legends and how warped they get over time. One of my favorite parts of the show is when the expert debunks family legends.

I figure the flag bearer was either an aid-de-camp or enlisted type assigned to HQ. The other possibility is a member of the Commander-in-Chief Guards. I checked the list and I did not see a McVey. But whose to say that all the members are on the list.

link

Old Contemptible19 Jun 2021 10:33 p.m. PST

Something else to consider. It may not have been the same person all the time bearing Washington's flag. Maybe it was a duty that was rotated among the troops. This week it's Henry, next week William. Duty roster comes out on Sunday for the week.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2021 2:26 a.m. PST

Agree that it probably wasn't the same trooper who carried the command flag. He would, however, have to be mounted to keep up with Washington in the field.

Old Contemptible20 Jun 2021 1:22 p.m. PST

Definitely a mounted flag bearer. I am not 100% sure the flag was carried in every battle. Yes, there are several post war paintings showing the flag like the Princeton painting and some of those artist are meticulous.

However these were done decades after the fact, so memory becomes an issue. What I would like to see are the notes taken by the artist when they interviewed Veterans.

If this flag was with Washington during a battle, you would think someone who kept a journal or diary would have mention seeing the flag in battle. Americans and British would have seen it. After all was that not the purpose of the flag, to be able to see it.

None of this would keep me from using the flag on the game table, on a round base with Washington, both figures mounted or on a separate bases. The cool factor alone makes it worth doing. You can always use the old chestnut, "prove to me that the flag wasn't there." I am thinking of doing this myself.

John the OFM20 Jun 2021 1:36 p.m. PST

I have interpreted the phrase "as the Colonel shall decide" to mean "As the painter and collector shall decide". Within reason, of course.

Old Contemptible20 Jun 2021 2:03 p.m. PST

Amen

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2021 2:12 a.m. PST

I was reading the Osprey on Trenton and Princeton last evening and one of the more interesting things in it was that the Philadelphia Associators had a small mounted unit with the army. Perhaps one of them was detailed to carry Washington's command flag?

John the OFM21 Jun 2021 5:05 a.m. PST

That would be the Philadelphia Light Horse.

John the OFM21 Jun 2021 8:04 a.m. PST

On a more personal note, my son served with the Light Horse in Kuwait.
More precisely, the 1st Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry, Pennsylvania National Guard. That unit traces their lineage to the Light Horse.

So, naturally I have a fine 12 figure unit of them.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2021 8:06 a.m. PST

The Philadelphia Light Horse were not part of the Associators.

However, it is logical that they would assign a trooper to carry Washington's command flag.

AICUSV27 Jun 2021 9:31 p.m. PST

Washington had a group of "Gentleman Volunteers" ( unpaid "want -to-be officers)hanging around him. These amounted to HQ "go for s", he just may as well detailed one of these. During the ACW the HQ markers were generally carried by sergeants, although mount, the usually came from infantry units.

I would think that if there was one individual who carried GW's colors all the time, there would have been something written about him.

Old Contemptible28 Jun 2021 11:44 a.m. PST

I made an inquiry to the American Revolution museum who currently has the flag in their collection. One of their Curators responded.

"Perhaps surprisingly, there is very little recorded about Washington's use of the flag. There are three period paintings which include versions of the standard, including

Washington at Princeton, by Charles Willson Peale

The Battle of Princeton , by James Peale (copied by William Mercer)

The Surrender at Yorktown, by Louis Nicolas Van Blarenberghe

All three paintings show a CiC standard on the field. The art suggests that the standard followed Washington onto the battlefield, visibly marking his location. It also appears that a mounted soldier was tasked with carrying it. We assume it was one of the Commander in Chief Guards, AKA Life Guards, carrying it. It is unknown if that was an officer or an enlisted soldier.

The paintings also all show a slightly different star pattern. None of them quite match the extant standard. This suggests there may have been different flags made and used at different times. Since paintings are not photographs, this needs more research.

The extant flag descended in George Washington's sister, Betty Washington Lewis's family. It was donated to the Valley Forge Historical Society (our predecessor institution) by Betty's descendant, Frances B. Lovell, in 1910. Along with the rest of the VFHS's collection, the standard came to MoAR in 2003.

Thank you again for your inquiry and your understanding of how busy museum work can be. As you well know, most people think we sit around reading books, staring at objects, and answering the occasional request.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions."

All the Best,

Mark

Mark A. Turdo
Curator of Collections & Special Projects
Museum of the American Revolution

267.579.3746 | mturdo@amrevmuseum.org
101 South Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

amrevmuseum.org

We're open! Rediscover the Revolution.

John the OFM28 Jun 2021 2:34 p.m. PST

Ah, the old "Family Heirloom Trick"!
Third time this month!

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