The story of America’s Revolutionary War Flags Collection is a tale of many extraordinary victories—and one of the most important was the capture of British forces by American soldiers. The capturing of regimental standards, or flags, was an important part of these battles, and these trophies often were used for the remainder of the Revolutionary War and into the early years of the new United States.

This is one of those rare examples, and an opportunity to see a historic military artifact in its full glory. This flag was commissioned for the Massachusetts State Navy, a naval militia that was formed to protect the state from the British. It served during the entire war, flying over ships ranging from prison boats to dispatch vessels. The navy was one of the most active in the Revolutionary War, and its 25 vessels saw service throughout the conflict.

Revolutionary Spirit: Revolutionary War Flags Collection

In this unique version of the 13 stripes, each red star symbolizes one of the thirteen colonies. It also features the colonial snake emblem, a symbol of unity since the French and Indian War, and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me,” which became a popular rallying cry in the Revolutionary War.

This flag was carried by a regiment of colonists from the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment, led by Colonel Thomas Brandon (1741-1802). It was captured at the battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1782 and is on loan to the Museum from the family of Colonel Brandon. The family reverently preserved this rare Revolutionary War flag in a small wooden chest until the mid-20th century.

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