Historic Valley Forge

Personal flag of George Washington

Q.Looking for information on the personal flag of George Washington, the one with thirteen six-pointed stars.
Anonymous, Ohio

Battle of Princeton
by James Peale

A.There is ongoing research being made about Washington's Commander in Chief Standard/Flag. It most likely dates back to 1775. Because it was Washington's personal flag, it was with him wherever he went — saw the same action as he did. A painting by James Peale (Battle of Princeton) shows a large blue standard with a linear arrangement of stars.

Peale was assisted by an apprentice, William Mercer, the deaf-mute son of General Hugh Mercer who was slain during the battle; William Mercer later produced his own version of The Battle of Princeton, which is currently in the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, but James Peale produced the original. A painting by his older brother, Charles Wilson Peale titled, George Washington at Princeton shows a blue canton with stars, only in a circular formation. The circular formation of stars on blue is also a device used in the Washington Life Guard Standard.

An unsigned and undated item found in the papers of General Anthony Wayne is a proposed design for the Seal of the Board of War and Ordance. It includes cannon, cannonballs, muskets, and Washington's Standard.

The standard is not large enough — or proportionate — to be an infantry regimental standard. Its rectangular shape and larger size do not really make it a canton either.

George Washington at Princeton
by Charles Wilson Peale

The description of the "Commander-in-Chief Standard" is as follows: The field is a single width of faded blue silk about 27-1/2 by 35-1/2 inches. There are thirteen, large, six pointed stars with elongated rays. They are in a 3 2 3 2 3 pattern in layout. The stars are not clocked precisely the same; some are rotated from an exact vertical. The six pointed stars are "patterned" after English heraldic language. The flag itself was donated to the Valley Forge Historical Society from a descendant of George Washington.