Personal flag of George Washington
Q.Looking for information on the personal flag of George Washington, the one with thirteen six-pointed stars.
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 William Mercer (Battle of Princeton) shows a large blue standard with a linear arrangement of stars. A Peale painting of George Washington 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.
It is interesting to note that 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. It's rectangular shape and larger size do not really make it a canton either.
The original is in our collection, coming to us through Washington's family. As with all our artifacts, the research is ongoing.
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. Two paintings, supervised by eyewitnesses, show the flag:
- "The Battle of Princeton" by William Mercer
- "Surrender of Yorktown" by Van Blarenberghe
SAS, Courtesy The Valley Forge Historical Society