The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

History

April 9, 2014

Revolutionary War flag could fetch millions at auction

MANCHESTER, Mass. — It was nearly 240 years ago that the Manchester Company of the Essex County Militia in Massachusetts took off for the Lexington Alarm.

As they marched toward the first Revolutionary War battle on April 19, 1775, the minutemen carried a 60-by-63-inch red flag with 13 ivory stripes affixed to its top left corner, seven on one side and six on the other, representing the 13 United Colonies.

The men who marched that day never saw battle, since the alarm ended before they reached Lexington. But that bright red silk flag they carried, now called the Forster Flag, still exists.

The Forster Flag, said to be the earliest existing flag designed to represent the 13 original colonies, is up for auction through Doyle New York, an auction and appraising company in New York City.

What does it cost to own this iconic piece of American history? A whopping $1 million to $3 million, according to Doyle.

The flag is being offered to benefit the Whitney Smith Flag Research Collection in the Dolph Brisco Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, according to Doyle. Money raised through the auction will go toward an endowment for the center’s flag collection, John Huss, president of the Manchester Historical Museum, said.

“Obviously, it’s something we would love to have,” Huss said. The museum will not be making a bid, he added. He said it would be great if the flag made its way back to New England, noting that he hopes it stays within the United States.

Though Huss said he doesn’t know where the flag was made, he said there’s a theory that the flag once sported a British Union Jack in its canton, or top left corner. This was removed and replaced with a red silk square onto which the strips of ivory representing the colonies was sewn, he said. The flag itself was made of two red silk strips sewn together.

Flags were crucial for battle during the revolution, Huss said. If a soldier became separated from his group, he could look for the flag to find his way back, Huss said. This explains why the flag is around five feet long.

“It was something that was critical,” Huss said. “That’s where ‘Rally around the flag’ comes from.”

The flag being offered for auction was named after Samuel Forster, a second lieutenant for the Manchester Company. It remained in Manchester’s Forster family for two centuries until it was sold to the Flag Heritage Foundation in 1975. For a time, Huss said, the flag was draped over a captured British drum at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Arianna MacNeill can be reached at 978-675-2710 or at amacneill@gloucestertimes.com.

1
Text Only
History
  • Johnny Appleseed Road Show-3 [Duplicate] Exhibit on real Johnny Appleseed will hit the road CINCINNATI — If you picture Johnny Appleseed as a loner wearing a tin pot for a hat and flinging apple seeds while meandering through the countryside, experts say you’re wrong.They’re hoping that a traveling exhibit funded by an anonymous donation to

    July 21, 2014 8 Photos

  • Rastrelli's Rastrelli's restaurant a cornerstone in Lyons District Pete Rastrelli (1900-1966) came here to work for Marcucci’s as a candy maker in 1926 after learning the trade at businesses like Curtis Candy Co. in Chicago.In Clinton, he met and married a nursing student named Ida Baldacci. Ida was an orphan from C

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mourning millions: EU leaders mark WWI centennial

    At a site where their countrymen once slaughtered each other with machine guns, artillery and poison gas, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and other European nations commemorated the 100th anniversary of World War I and vowed Thursday to preserve peace on the continent.

    June 27, 2014

  • Tour de France marks World War I centennial

    Before sunrise on June 28, 1914, a pack of cyclists set off from Paris on the 12th Tour de France. Hours later, an Austrian archduke stepped out in Sarajevo and was assassinated in the street, igniting the carnage of World War I.

    June 27, 2014

  • 6-11-14 McEleney photo A closer look at the McEleneys' history Leo and Emmett McEleney started their business in 1914. Now, 100 years of service to the community has been accomplished. They started with Jeffery automobiles, and it was their mechanical prowess (Emmett) and business sense (Leo) which really helped

    June 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • 6-11-14 McEleney's page 1 McEleney's celebrates a century

    Somehow it seems fitting that Emmett McEleney was born in 1886 the same year Carl Benz completed the Benz Patent Motor Car, considered to be the first true automobile. The world was a very different place when Emmett and his brother, Leo, started a

    June 11, 2014 9 Photos

  • Puget Sound anchor might be from 1792 expedition

    Experts will examine an anchor recovered from Puget Sound north of Seattle to determine if it was from one of the earliest ships to explore Northwest waters.

    The anchor was found six years ago by sea-cucumber diver Doug Monk, who formed Anchor Ventures with amateur historian Scott Grimm to bring it to the surface. It was in Admiralty Inlet off Whidbey Island.

    June 10, 2014

  • Fashion History of Lingerie-57 [Duplicate] Corsets to Wonderbras: museum takes on lingerie NEW YORK (AP) -- From a 1770 corset to a 2014 bra-and-panty set in lacy stretch silk, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology has put the focus on lingerie and ladies foundation garments in a new exhibition. In about 70 pieces, "Exposed: A

    June 10, 2014 21 Photos

  • World honors D-Day's fallen 70 years later

    Gone are the screaming shells, seasick soldiers and bloodied waters of 1944. On Friday, a sun-splattered Normandy celebrated peace, with silent salutes, tears and international friendship marking 70 years since the D-Day invasion helped change the course of World War II and modern history.

    June 6, 2014

  • WW I trenches unearthed at Camp Dodge JOHNSTON -- Archaeologists hired to dig at World War I training trenches on the Iowa National Guard Base at Camp Dodge have uncovered several artifacts dating to when the United States entered the war: rifle shell casings, a machine gun suppressor fr

    May 29, 2014