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George Washington's Personal Position Flag (U.S.)


Last modified: 2003-07-12 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | george washington | stars | commander in chief |
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[Flag of General Washington] by Dave Martucci, 6 December 1997

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Description of the flag

This is an almost square blue flag with 13 white six-pointed stars arranged 3:2:3:2:3 Rather than the normal stars which appear to be composed of triangles, they're composed of three lines that intersect. The ends of the lines are slightly tapered.

The original of this flag is in the collection of the Valley Forge Historical Society. It is not quite square measuring 27 1/2 inches by 35 1/2 inches. It is made of faded blue silk with the stars appliqued white silk. Thus the stars appear smaller on the reverse than on the observe.
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 21 February 1996

History of the flag

It is said to be the headquarters standard of General George Washington, but is questioned by some historians. It appears in two early postwar paintings, supervised by eyewitnesses, the Battle of Princeton by William Mercer and the surrender of Yorktown by the French artist Van Blarenberghe. It was donated to the Society by Miss Frances B. Lovell, a descendant of Washington's only sister, Betty Washington Lewis.

It is accepted by some experts as being Washington's Headquarters Flag and the standard of the army in 1781.
William M. Grimes-Wyatt, 21 February 1996

Commander in Chief

In 1776 Congress conferred upon General George Washington the title "Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States" so as to uniquely identify him. No insignia or flag were authorized. However that did not stop the Washington DC press from reporting "Washington Gets Sixth Star".

Washington only ever wore three silver six-pointed stars as an insignia of grade and a light blue ribbon/sash diagonally across his chest indicating his status as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. His flags as C-I-C were all blue of varying shades with 13 six-pointed stars arranged either 3-2-3-2-3, 4-5-4, or in a circle. There is a surviving flag in Valley Forge which is claimed to be Washington's command flag with the star arranged 3-2-3-2-3. The other arrangements are from period paintings.

James J. Ferrigan III, 21 December 2000

Commander in Chief's Guard

[Commander in Chief's Guard] by Randy Young, 30 April 2001

Source: "Flags to Color from the American Revolution."

This one is listed as "Flag of the Commander in Chief's Guard." The colors are listed as "White field, horse, coat facings, waistcoat, breeches, sword and crossbelt. Green ribbon and ground. Liberty in light blue, also pennant. Blue coat. Brown American eagle with white head and yellow beak. Union shield: blue at top, red and white stripes, yellow fringe. Brown boots, black half-gaiters, blue and white feather in the cocked hat." The flag itself is described as:

"The Commander in Chief's Guard was a small corps of soldiers from each colony. The men were attached to Washington, but they fought in battle along with other troops. This flag was probably not designed until 1782, for it bears the American eagle, which was not official before then."
Randy Young, 30 April 2001