First Navy Flag ( Appeal To Heaven Flag )

Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by 13Stars, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. 13Stars

    13Stars New Member

  2. APS221

    APS221 Member

    I think Peter Ansoff might have a bit to say about it, since his work and correspondence is cited in the blog.
     
  3. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    I am not Peter but that website seems to be a bit over the top even bitter about the Dont Tread On Me flag:

    "The First Navy Flag is NOT the fictional flag of the "Snake Over Stripes"
    "Retreating Rattler" with its plaintive plea (Please) "Don't Tread On Me" created from legends and lies,
    and sadly, on United States Navy ships currently flies".
     
  4. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    There is not a lot of documentation on many of our early flags, however the website seems to gloss over the fact that a flag and a jack are not necessarily the same thing. Yes, the flag (ensign) of Washington's cruisers was a pine on a white background (the flag of the Massachusetts Navy.) But the rattlesnake flag across the stripes is used by today's US Navy as their jack, not the ensign. A jack flies at the bow while the flag / ensign flies at the stern.
     
  5. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Nick,
    You make a most excellent point.
     
  6. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    The blog that 13 Stars found is written by a gent named James Manship, a former naval officer who portrays George Washington at public events. A few years ago, Manship came up with the idea that the US Navy should fly the pine tree flag as its jack instead of the rattlesnake-and-stripes "First Navy Jack" that it currently uses. He contacted me because I wrote an article about the FNJ in Raven. He also contacted Whitney Smith, Dave Martucci and others who have written about early American flags. His contention, as I understand it, is that the pine tree flag is really the first flag to have been flown by the Navy during the Revolution.

    I agree with Mr. Manship (or maybe he agrees with me!) that the First Navy Jack is probably legendary, and did not even exist during the Revolutionary War. My Raven article, which discusses the subject in detail, is available online here:

    http://www.nava.org/documents/raven/vol11/NAVA_Raven_v11_2004_p001-060.pdf

    I disagree, however, with Manship's statement about "legends and lies." As my article shows, the myth of the First Navy Jack was created accidentally by well-meaning 19th century historians, with some assistance from the October 1917 issue of "National Geographic" magazine. The only "lies" discussed my paper relate to A. C. Buell's biography of John Paul Jones, which is a well-documented fraud.

    The problem with Manship's thesis is that the pine tree / "Appeal to Heaven" flag was not used by the Revolutionary War navy either. It was used in three distinct contexts: as the identifying flag of Washington's "floating batteries" during the siege of Boston, on at least two of the commerce raiding ships that Washington commissioned in 1775-76, and as the ensign of the Massachusetts State Navy. In the first two cases, the vessels were operated by Washington's Army and had no relation to the Continental Navy. Even if one leaves aside the ensign vs. jack point that Nick made, there's really no logic behind Manship's thesis. The first ensign flown by the Continental Navy was the "Continental Colors" with the 13 stripes and the British union crosses in the canton. The first jack was probably a plain 13-striped flag.

    I presented a paper on the history of the Pine Tree flag at the NAVA conference in Indianapolis in 2004, and will get it ready for publication one of these days. It's titiled "The Sign Their Banners Bore," and addresses all three of the contexts in which the flag was used.

    In case anyone's wondering, Manship did not ask for or receive permission to quote my personal emails in his blog.

    Peter Ansoff
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  7. GeneralWashington

    GeneralWashington New Member

    As I wrote an hour or so ago to Peter Ansoff on this 27th day of January in the Year of Our Lord 2015, in his Welcome to this Forum automated email, while watching on Apple TV the PBS Frontline documentary on United States of Secrets about NSA tapping into Google fiber optic cables and so much more, I was using Google to search on my own named. On about page 15 I found this Thread on the Washington Cruisers - First Navy Flag.

    Let me start from the bottom up. First, Peter Ansoff states "Manship did not ask for or receive permission to quote my personal email in his blog." The email I quoted was sent to me in response to my scholarly questions, and I was seeking the response of a recognized scholar, Peter Ansoff. I do not still have any of my emails from prior to 2007, and most of our emails were from before that, but I do recall any header or footer warnings or requests NOT to share the scholarship Mr. Ansoff provided.

    I have always tried to give Peter Ansoff credit for the scholarship I received, and I have thanked him more than once for sharing, and I do so again here. On my blog, among other compliments, I wrote: Given that variety, I also asked flag expert Peter Ansoff what did he believe was the shape of the tree described by Colonel Reed's letter. Mr. Ansoff suggested a simple triangle based on the Southhold flag, believed to be the only existing flag of the period with a tree in its design. Mr. Ansoff referred me to the Flag Bulletin #206..."

    A few lines above that, Mr. Ansoff writes, "The problem with Manship's thesis is that the pine tree / "Appeal to Heaven" flag was not used by the Revolutionary War navy either....In the first two cases, the vessels were operated by Washington's Army and had no relation to the Continental Navy." There I must present facts of history that may disagree with Mr. Ansoff's thesis.

    First, if you look at the Commissioning document for George Washington he was General and Commander in Chief of ALL Continental forces, not just the Army.

    As a military strategist and tactician, Washington recognized that he was laying siege to the British Army occupying Boston, with the mightiest Navy in the world in the harbor and off shore, and with many supply ships regularly providing the British Army and Navy. With Boston a port town, the British Army supported by supply ships partially protected by the British Navy, Washington had to interdict those supply ships for two good reasons - 1) to deny the supplies to the enemy, the British Army and Navy, and 2) to provide those supplies to the Continental Army, that desperately needed supplies. There were celebrations of Washington and staff when they received reports of some of the cargoes that were captured.

    Meanwhile the Continental Congress Maritime Committee was debating whether or not they should create a Continental Navy because of their fear to invoke the wrath of the British if they did. By the way, Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island was on that committee, and his brother Esek Hopkins, who was a Brigadier General of the Rhode Island Militia Artillery, was chosen as the first Commodore of the Continental Navy, but was later "Relieved of Command" by the Continental Congress for his unprovoked attack on New Providence in the Bahamas, much like the first Captain of the first Continental Navy ship commissioned, the "Hannah", Nicholas Broughan (?sp) was relieved for attacking St. Johns in Canada, when his orders from Commander in Chief Washington were to go to render support to the expedition to Quebec by Benedict Arnold and Montgomery. [NOT a good beginning in the leadership in the Continental Navy with Broughan and Hopkins, but John Manley who John Adams suggested to be Commodore was the most successful of the Continental Navy Captains.]

    Thus when Washington commissioned seven ships to go out to sea to intercept and capture British supply ships, but "run" from British war ships, he was doing so as Commander in Chief of ALL Continental forces, so thus, Washington created the Continental Navy, somewhat the "Northern Fleet" (open ports near Boston), later to be followed by the "Mid-Atlantic Fleet" (Philadelphia and Baltimore), and the "Southern Fleet" (Charleston)

    I was in the office of a Navy History Museum employee, when we were discussing "WHEN" the Continental Navy was formed, and he cited the Valcour Island time, and I pointed out that as about a year after the Continental Navy was formed with the Washington Cruisers. Then, he acknowledged that to be the case, but he said that the American Navy measures its birth to 13 October 1775 when the Maritime Committee voted to commission several ships for the Continental Navy.

    Then I said, and WHAT was the MARITIME COMMITTEE's first item of business that day of 13 October? He pulled out a book and looked to see what I had already researched, that the first order of business that day was to read and act upon a letter from Commander in Chief Washington asking what disposition they directed for a British supply ship that one of his "Continental Navy" ships had captured and taken to a Continental friendly port. That pretty much ENDED THE COMMITTEE's DEBATE about annoying the British by forming a Continental Navy.

    A key second point is there is a substantial difference between the "floating batteries" that flew a Liberty Tree flag, and the seven sea-going ships that Commander in Chief Washington commissioned in September and October 1775. And then there was the Massachusetts Navy that also flew a Liberty Tree flag, but that began in 1776. From the research that I did from 2004 to 2007 after I was a keynote speaker at the Navy Chaplains Conference in Virginia Beach in November 2004, I do not believe that either the floating batteries or the Massachusetts Navy flag carried the motto "Appeal to Heaven". I am very open to good citations that confirm or contradict that reading of our early Naval history. And by the way, I as a former Navy Signals Officer, I am very aware of the difference between a Navy Jack Flag and the Ensign.

    MOST "commercial" versions of the First Navy Flag, or Washington Cruisers Flag, carry the motto "AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN" using all caps and a modern font. The letter of 20 October 1775 written by Washington's aide-de-camp Colonel Joseph Reed stated the motto to be "Appeal to Heaven" NOT, repeat NOT, "AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN", with NO "AN" and showing upper and lower case letters. The font on the ONLY surviving "tree" flag from the Revolution, that Peter Ansoff pointed me to in the magazine published by Dr. Whitney Smith, showed upper and lower case, and a font that looked like Caslon, which is the font used when both the Declaration of Independence and "this Constitution for the United States of America" were printed.

    From a "Grammar" basis, "AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN" makes "APPEAL" a noun, and with the adjective "AN" suggests ONE APPEAL ONE time or by ONE person; where as in "Appeal to Heaven", "Appeal" is a verb, an action word, so "Appeal to Heaven" becomes a CONTINUING, COLLECTIVE COMMAND from the COMMANDER IN CHIEF (Washington) for ALL Americans to "Appeal to Heaven" to pray to God the Father in Heaven continuously, as was the daily practice of Commander in Chief George Washington. An interesting "side note" of History, is the Washington family motto is, "Aspire to Heaven". Further, the motto "Appeal to Heaven" is said to derive from John Locke's Second Treatise on Government. If one reads that essay, no where did Locke write the words "an appeal to heaven", but did write "appeal to heaven".

    And Mr. Ansoff writes: The blog that 13 Stars found is written by a gent named James Manship, a former naval officer who portrays George Washington at public events. True, I was a former Naval Line Officer, the Signals Officer on the USS Independence in the Bicentennial Year of 1976, then in 1979, after two shoulder injuries in Navy EOD Diver training, I switched to Special Duty, Cryptology. In 1985, as Commanding Officer, my unit won the Delany Award as the best Naval Reserve Crypto Unit in the nation, and I was twice nominated by by Admirals for a White House Fellowship. In 1987, I suffered food poisoning, fell, hit my head, suffered a concussion, and was discharged from the Navy in 1988. Later I was director of the Defend America: VOTE! program at American Defense Institute on Capitol Hill in Washington. In 1997, I first began to portray General George Washington as an effective way to make "History Come Alive" and five times since have received standing ovations by the Virginia House of Delegates for portraying George Washington. In October 2012, the Library of Congress granted me a copyright on my research and on the faithful to facts of History design of the Washington Cruisers Flag, or Liberty Tree Flag, indeed the true "First Navy Flag".
     
  8. GeneralWashington

    GeneralWashington New Member

    So to return to one of several areas of our agreement, Mr. Peter Ansoff wrote:

    "I agree with Mr. Manship (or maybe he agrees with me!) that the First Navy Jack is probably legendary, and did not even exist during the Revolutionary War."

    Thus, Mr. Ansoff and LCDR Manship, USNR are in agreement (that the wrongly named “First Navy Jack”) "did not even exist during the Revolutionary War"...

    ... so is a “Fake Snake Flag”, thus if it did not exist during the Revolutionary War, then the Snake On Stripe flag is based on “lies” that it was the first Navy jack, that have been woven into an elaborate legend that sadly senior leaders in our modern day American Navy bought into prior to our Bicentennial Celebrations in the mid-1970s.

    And our Navy leaders sadly bought into again in the “War on Terror” promoted by the same man, now a retired Navy Captain, who sold the “false bill of goods” about the “First Navy Jack”, the first time nearly 30 years before.

    I have an article by a Navy officer junior colleague of that retired Navy Captain that describes the machinations of the mid-1970’s “creation” of what was sold to America as the “First Navy Jack”, about how many coils in the rattle and how many bends in the body, WITHOUT FIRST seeking input from the Naval History Center.

    When the Naval History Center learned of this Bicentennial promotion piece created by SECNAV staff officers of a “Snake On Stripes” (SOS) design, they meekly stated there were little or no historical facts to support the SOS flag being the First Navy Jack.

    After a heavy investment was made by some of these same Navy leaders in this Bicentennial Promotional “flag creation” to give small copies of the flag to people, they decided to “PRESS ON” with this legend, despite knowing the facts of History did not support this as true.
     
  9. GeneralWashington

    GeneralWashington New Member

    And back to the original poster, 13 Stars, first, thank you for noticing the First Navy Flag blog, and sharing your discovery on this USA Flag Site Forum, saying:

    I found this blog spot site, saying that the First Navy Flag was the "Appeal To Heaven" Flag and not the Rattlesnake Flag, interesting reading.

    First Navy Flag = Liberty Tree Flag, or"Appeal to Heaven" Flag, orWashington Cruisers Flag

    Also note that even IF true, the Navy Snake flag (falsely promoted by the 20th and 21st Century Navy as the "First Navy Jack") did not fly until January 1776 whereas the Liberty Tree “Appeal to Heaven” or Washington Cruisers flag flew in Sep/ Oct 1775, making the "Appeal to Heaven" Liberty Tree Flag truly the FIRST Navy flag, and if the Appeal to Heaven Liberty Tree flag were made the same size as the Fake Snake Flag being called the "First Navy Jack", and flown in its place, it too would be a Navy Jack flag.

    To read the original words on the First Navy Flag blog, go to: First Navy Flag = Liberty Tree Flag, or"Appeal to Heaven" Flag, orWashington Cruisers Flag.

    I may try to do some updates to the First Navy Flag blog, because before I found with Peter Ansoff's able assistance the path to find Gary Laube with his Southhold flag, being the ONLY SURVIVING "tree flag" from the Revolutionary War era, I too thought of an evergreen tree in the shape of a Christmas tree, of which there are MANY variations, by various modern flag artists and creators, so to reduce confusion, I may go back and put the simple triangle shape tree flag with Caslon font on the motto "Appeal to Heaven" in place of the earlier versions of the flag I used until I learned more facts of History.

    The Appeal to Heaven flag that is rightly called the Liberty Tree Flag, for at least two good reasons,

    (1) it was raised on ships commissioned by the Commander in Chief of the Continental forces fighting for Liberty within weeks of when Loyalists in Boston cut down the "Liberty Tree" where the Sons of Liberty gathered, and

    (2) Liberty to appeal to heaven is key in the quote from Locke -- from my 11 October 2005 letter to Secretary of the Navy Gordon England is the following insight:
    “…the motto added by Washington is from Locke’s Second Treatise chapter XIV “Of Prerogative”, where is written “to appeal to heaven…have no appeal on earth, then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven.” “Appeal To Heaven” is Locke’s syllogism for “go to war”. With Thomas, Lord Fairfax as his mentor, George Washington was well educated in John Locke’s writings.”

    Mr. Ansoff writes: "I presented a paper on the history of the Pine Tree flag at the NAVA conference in Indianapolis in 2004, and will get it ready for publication one of these days."

    There are other "Pine Tree Flags" in American History to be addressed in another fine paper by Peter Ansoff beyond the Evergreen Liberty Tree flag of the First Navy Flag, or Washington Cruisers Flag, that should always be differentiated from the Massachusetts Navy flag, the floating batteries flag, and other "pine tree flags".

    Here is a "paper" of sorts collecting this forum's discussion or debate for others interested in American Navy History to enjoy:
    https://www.academia.edu/10354585/_Appeal_to_Heaven_Liberty_Tree_Flag_debate_on_USA_Flag_Forum
     
  10. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello James -- welcome to the forum!

    I do recall any header or footer warnings or requests NOT to share the scholarship Mr. Ansoff provided.


    Of course, there were no such warnings -- my emails to you were private communications, and you gave no indication that you planned to publish them in a public forum such as your blog. Common courtesy would suggest that it would have been appropriate to ask permission before doing so.

    First, if you look at the Commissioning document for George Washington he was General and Commander in Chief of ALL Continental forces, not just the Army. . . Thus when Washington commissioned seven ships to go out to sea to intercept and capture British supply ships, . . . he was doing so as Commander in Chief of ALL Continental forces

    It's true that Washington was appointed in June 1775 to command "all the continental forces, raised, or to be raised, for the defence of American liberty." However, it's also clear that he did not command the Continental Navy that was established by the Congress in October 1775, and that Congress did not intend that he do so. Commodore Hopkins' orders from the committee stated that "You are to consider these as your instructions until you shall receive further or other Orders from the Continental Congress or the Committee of Congress appointed for such a purpose," making it clear that Washington was not in his chain-of-command. Washington's correspondence with Hopkins was in the form of requests and suggestions, not orders. For example, on 14 April 1776 he wrote to Hopkins, "I should be much obliged to you, if you would forward the Cannon and Stores, I left a List with you for, as soon as possible . . . I should be extremely glad if you would keep a good Look out to see that the Coast is clear before any more of the Continental Troops embark from New London." Washington was actually skeptical about the value of the Continental Navy, and saw it as competing with him for resources. In one of his letters to Joseph Reed, he commented, "I hope that [the Continental fleet] has sailed 'e'r this, and given you some proof of the utility of it, and enabl'd Congress to bestow a little more attention to the affairs of this army . . ."

    Conversely, Washington was careful not to let Congress or Hopkins get involved in the operation of his commerce raiding ships. They were crewed by soldiers from his army, who retained their army ranks, and their captains received orders from Army headquarters. When officers such as John Manley and Samuel Tucker transferred from Washington's fleet to the navy, they had to resign their commissions and receive new ones from Congress.

    . . . WHAT was the MARITIME COMMITTEE's first item of business that day of 13 October? . . .[it] was to read and act upon a letter from Commander in Chief Washington asking what disposition they directed for a British supply ship that one of his "Continental Navy" ships had captured and taken to a Continental friendly port. That pretty much ENDED THE COMMITTEE's DEBATE about annoying the British by forming a Continental Navy.

    This information is incorrect in several respects:

    1. The 13 October resolution was adopted by the Congress, not the "Marine Committee."

    2. Washington's letter was not the first item considered by the Congress that day -- that was a discussion about banning exports of rice and livestock to Britain and various other matters related to "the trade of the united colonies."

    3. The British supply ship referred to in Washington's letter had not been captured by "one of his "Continental Navy" ships" -- it was captured by the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Committee of Safety after the ship mistakenly entered the harbor. Washington only had one ship, the Hannah, in service at the time, and he never referred to any of his vessels as Continental Navy ships.

    4. The resolution on 13 October was not directly related to Washington's letter of 5 October. The Naval Committee was established on 5 October, and directed to "prepare a plan for intercepting two vessels, which are on their way to Canada . . ." The committee's report was submitted on 6 October, and it was "ordered to lie on the table, for the perusal of the members" before being adopted by Congress on the 13th. It is possible that the decision to adopt the report was influenced by Washington's letter, but it's difficult to see why. Washington stated in the letter that "I have directed 3 Vessels to be equiped in order to cut off the Supplies." If anything, that might have discouraged Congress from doing the same thing, since Washington was already taking care of it.

    I do not believe that either the floating batteries or the Massachusetts Navy flag carried the motto "Appeal to Heaven". I am very open to good citations that confirm or contradict that reading of our early Naval history.

    Here are a couple of citations:

    1. Colonel Joseph Reed's letter of 20 October 1775 to Colonels Glover and Moylan, which you quoted in your post, said: "What do you think of a Flag with a White Ground, a Tree in the Middle -- the Motto (Appeal to Heaven) -- This is the flag of our floating batteries." (emphasis added). This is substantiated by the only known illustration of an American floating battery, which clearly shows that there was a motto on the flag. The motto is not legible in the painting, but it's good bet that it matched the one that Reed reported.

    2. The resolution of the Massachusetts General Court on 29 April 1776 read: "Resolved that the Committee appointed to Build and fix out Armed Vessels of this Colony . . . Muster the men raised for the Armed Vessels of this Colony . . . Resolved . . . that the Colours be a White Flagg with a Green pine Tree, and an inscription "appeal to Heaven"" (Emphasis added.)

    As an aside, only two of Washington's cruisers are actually documented as having flown pine tree flags, and only one of those descriptions mentions the motto:

    1. The brig Washington was captured by the British in December 1775, and Admiral Graves' report stated that "her Colours are a Green Pine Tree on a White Field with the Motto 'Appeal to Heaven.' This flag was sent Britain, displayed at the Admiralty and presented to the King for his inspection. (It would be very interesting to know what eventually happened to it!)

    2. Captain Samuel Tucker, who commanded the Franklin and the Hancock in 1776, wrote that "the banner I fought under; the field of which was white, and the union was green, made therein in the figure of a pine tree." His description is a bit unclear (if the union was green, what color was the pine tree?), but there's no mention of a motto. He later described a battle he fought in the Hancock: "the white field and pine tree were riddled to atoms."

    Again, these are the only actual references that I've seen to the use of a pine tree flag by Washington's cruisers, and only one of the two mentions a motto. These flags were not centrally procured -- the Washington's flag was made by a local seamstress in Plymouth, and Tucker's was made by his wife --so it's quite possible that one had the motto and the other did not. Reed's 20 October 1775 letter is often cited as evidence that the whole fleet used it, but this is not justified. Reed was only suggesting that the floating battery flag might be used to identify the two cruisers that were headed for the St. Lawrence, and they actually sailed before his letter arrived in Beverly.

    "Appeal to Heaven" becomes a CONTINUING, COLLECTIVE COMMAND from the COMMANDER IN CHIEF (Washington) for ALL Americans to "Appeal to Heaven" to pray to God the Father in Heaven continuously, as was the daily practice of Commander in Chief George Washington.

    In my opinion, this is a rather farfetched interpretation. "Appeal to Heaven" was a phrase used by the Americans to justify their resistance to the authority of the British parliament and ministry. They probably had in mind Locke's words in Chapter 14 of the second Treatise: ". . . where the Body of the People, or any single Man, is deprived of their Right, or is under the Exercise of a power without right, and have no Appeal on Earth, there they have a liberty to appeal to Heaven, whenever they judge the Cause of sufficient moment." This was the philosophical basis for the American Revolution, and was echoed (in somewhat different words) in the Declaration of Independence. It was primarily a political statement, not an overt call to prayer. By the way, I would be interested to know about your citation for Washington's daily practice.

    An interesting "side note" of History, is the Washington family motto is, "Aspire to Heaven".

    I'd be interested in the citation for this also. The motto on his family coat-of-arms was Exitus acta probat, which I believe means something like "the outcome proves the deed."

    the Snake On Stripe flag is based on "lies" that it was the first Navy jack, that have been woven into an elaborate legend

    No, it is based on honest mistakes by 19th century historians, as I showed in some detail in my original paper.

    The bottom line is that I disagree with your idea that the Navy should adopt the pine tree flag as its jack. In my opinion, that would only be substituting one dubious legend for another. Washington's cruisers were the origins of the Navy in the sense that they were the first armed ships to go to sea under the authority of the Continental government. However, they were, by design, a completely different organization from the Continental Navy, and represent a different line of tradition. If the Army decided to fly the pine tree flag on its ships (of which it has quite a few), that would be a different story. For the Navy, I think that a much better alternative would be to re-adopt the historic blue jack with the white stars. That flag has been the unique emblem of the American sea services since the Revolutionary War, and has flown proudly over our ships in victory and in extremis.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
  11. Grand Union Flag

    Grand Union Flag New Member

    I don't believe the First Navy Jack was used as a "jack" but (if used at all) was more of an ensign. We have to remember that "flag regulations" were very loose back then and nothing like they are today. Very often captains would fly their own design especially during the early part of the war. Also, since flags were not though of as "important" there is very few references to it in documents. They just never thought it mattered to describe what was flying off the stern - unfortunately for us!

    The lettering on the flag was more likely "appeal from heaven" based on the actual words from John Locke. See: An Appeal to Heaven | HistoryTube.org

    As far the the shape of the pine tree, I believe it was more like a tree than a simple triangle. The so called "Southold Flag" was the flag of the CT 5th Regiment of Foot from the French & Indian war and had the pine tree in the canton of the canton (sort of speak). Southold is a town in the east end of Long Island and part of Suffolk County. It was settled in 1640 by CT and is the oldest English speaking town in NY. For many years they maintained very close ties to CT. When NY was established the east end towns (which were part of the Colony of CT) were forced to be a part of NY. They resisted a great deal and even petitioned the King to go back to CT. Needless to say, when it came time to fight a war (French & Indian), they naturally fought alongside the CT colony. Historians feel the flag made it to Southold since the ensign (an army rank back then that carried the colors), Jacob Woodward had it made and after the war, brought it home. It was found in a trunk belonging to the Woodward family. Jacob was in the 6th Company of the 5th CT Militia. With the strong ties to CT and it being a New England unit, they flew a flag with a pine tree in the canton. Due to the small size of the pine tree, I believe it was a simple triangle because a more detailed version would be impractical and not necessary. Also, due to the deterioration of the flag over the years lends to a difficult time to determine what it really looked like.

    The "Appeal to Heaven" flag was a naval flag and as such was a large flag. When you have a large pine tree on a large flag, it would make sense to have it more detailed - actually look like a pine tree and not a triangle. We need to give the 18c flag makers some credit. The surviving flags from that time period are very detailed and often painted and or appliquéd. I believe that the flag had a detailed more "real looking" pine tree.

    Font - Annin kills flag history by using non-historic font. Caslon was the font used during this time period and what would have more than likely been used - not just with this flag but with the Taunton and other liberty flags.

    As far as which flag the US Navy uses as a jack, I don't think they are going to change it to anything other than going back to the traditional blue with white stars. The Coast Guard, NOAA, and other government vessels still fly the traditional jack. In fact, when I was in the Coast Guard and in Iraq, we got a few 1st Navy Jacks to fly.....but we only flew it for one day before the captain wanted the old one back. He said it "looked too navy-like". In the past the 1st Navy Jack would be flown by the ship with the earliest commission date (minus the USS Constitution). I thought this was a neat tradition and would like to see the traditional jack returned. Its just my opinion...
     
  12. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    I don't believe the First Navy Jack was used as a "jack" but (if used at all) was more of an ensign.

    The evidence seems to show that it was not used at all during the Revolution, but was accidentally invented by 19th century historians. My article on the subject is on line here:

    www.nava.org/sites/default/files/NAVA_Raven_v11_2004_p001-060.pdf

    The lettering on the flag was more likely "appeal from heaven" based on the actual words from John Locke. See: An Appeal to Heaven | HistoryTube.org

    I'm not sure that I follow your reasoning here. Locke's quote (see my earlier post) was "appeal to heaven," and so were almost all of the references during the Revolutionary War period, including descriptions of the flags. I don't see anything in that article that would indicate anything different.

    The "Appeal to Heaven" flag was a naval flag and as such was a large flag. When you have a large pine tree on a large flag, it would make sense to have it more detailed - actually look like a pine tree and not a triangle. We need to give the 18c flag makers some credit. The surviving flags from that time period are very detailed and often painted and or appliquéd. I believe that the flag had a detailed more "real looking" pine tree.

    We'll probably never know, of course. There is no contemporary image that I know of, and all of the descriptions just refer to it as a "pine tree" or "spreading pine tree." However, a flag intended for naval use would probably not be painted, and the ones that we have any documentation about were probably not made by professionals. If the tree was detailed, I suspect that it looked more like the straight-branched tree that appears on contemporary coins and paper money, rather than the "Christmas tree" style that's used on modern replicas.

    Caslon was the font used during this time period and what would have more than likely been used - not just with this flag but with the Taunton and other liberty flags.

    Well, maybe. Many of the surviving Revolutionary War colors use a Serif font like Caslon, but those were typically painted on silk. The only Pine Tree flags for which we have any documentation were the ones made in Plymouth for the Washington and the Harrison. The invoice doesn't indicate how they were made, but again, maritime flags were not normally made out of silk. If they were appliqued rather than painted, it seems less likely that they would have been anything other than simple block letters. For what it's worth, the painting of the floating battery flag seems to show simple block lettering.
     
  13. Grand Union Flag

    Grand Union Flag New Member

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks so much for providing the link to your paper. It was extremely interesting and I enjoyed reading it. I've had the pleasure to read several of your other papers. Did you ever think of putting them all together into one book?

    Appeal from Heaven - whoops! That was a mistype I made, I meant Appeal to Heaven. Hopefully someone does not read that and think there is another option....here I go creating history! Proof that re-reading your posts is so important!

    Very true, we probably will never get the full story. I sometimes wish they had cameras back then! We just have to hope someone unearths some documents or a flag in an old trunk someday.
     
  14. ruellesmith

    ruellesmith New Member

    I checked on the blog you've shared and it offers some interesting info about the first navy blog. 'Thanks for sharing this! It was a great read.
     

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