1775 – 1784
The Flags of the First New Hampshire Regiment
There is much conjecture and little substantial proof when it comes to the study of flags carried by the 1st New Hampshire Regiment during the American Revolution. Unfortunately, there are no flags attributed to the unit which have survived, to our knowledge. This brief work will not attempt to restate the history of flags carried through the war in general, but will only look at research along with some admitted conjecture which has been done within the last few years pertaining to the flags under which the 1NH served.
The Colors of 1779
While we don’t have any clear information regarding colors made for the Regiment in 1779, we do know from the following sources that colors were ordered and made for Col. Cilley’s (1st NH) Regiment. These colors would have been made while the Regiment was on the Sullivan Campaign against the 7 Nations of the Iroquois, and probably would have been delivered after their return.
All of these sources come from the Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society , Vol. VII, “Records of the NH Committee of Safety”, Published for the Society by G. Parker Lyon, Concord, 1863
Note: “R.G.” stands for Receiver General
“Thursday, Feb’ry 4th 1779
Ordered the R.G. to pay Samuel Sawyer Nineteen Pounds four Shillings, for Taffity to make Coulors for Col. Cilley’s Regiment.
August 21st, 1779
Ordered for R.G. to pay Mr. Thomas Odiorne 9.0 pounds, for so much Advanced for Colours for Col. Cilley’s Regt.
Decem’r 3rd, 1779
Ordered the R. Gen. to pay Mr. Thomas Odiorne Nine pounds Eleven Shillings, being the balance due him for purchasing Colours for Col. Ciley Regt.”
It appears the colors were taffeta, provided by Samuel Sawyer. Thomas Odiorne must have paid for the colors in advance (and then been reimbursed). We still do not have a description of these colors.
Poor’s Brigade Standard of 1779
The only colors that we know the 1NH actually fielded under are those of General Poor’s Brigade during the Sullivan Campaign against the 7 Nations of the Iroquois. New Jersey Major John Ross made a sketch of the Order of Battle for Maj. Gen John Sullivan’s army during the campaign. In it, he drew matching colors for Gen. Maxwell’s (NJ) Campaign and Gen. Poor’s (NH + 6MA) Brigade. The flag shown for Poor’s is Green with a white union in the corner containing 13 large dark green stars arranged in three rows of 4 -5-4 . There is also a scroll of white with dark green ends in the middle of the field. There is no text on the scroll. Maxwell’s colors were in blue. There is little else known about the flags.
There is an excellent set of illustrations of these flags on pg. 186 of Standards and Colors of the American Revolution.
Like the early war period of the war, there is very little mention of flags for the 1NH for the last few years of the war. From various correspondence between officers, Gen. Washington, The Board of War, etc. It does appear that attempts were being made to procure colors, but there are very few accounts of them being made.
In April, 1779 Von Steuben regulated that each regiment was to have two Colors; one for each battalion. On May 10, 1779, the Board of War wrote to Gen. Washington that each regiment was to have two colors, one being the “standard of the United States” and the other a Regimental Color to match the facing color of the regiment. At this time, they still were not settled on what the “US Standard” would be. Throughout the rest of this year it appears they are still debating what the colors would look like. In September, Gen. Washington writes to the Board of War saying that he agrees the “union and emblems” should be in the center and the number of the Regt and the State should be in the “curve of the serpent”.
On February 28, 1780, the Board of War writes to Gen. Washington saying that the Colors shall be provided by the Commissary General of Military Stores, with two standards per unit, conforming to the plan. The colors would be a Standard of the U.S. and the other a Regimental Standard, with the “ground” to match the facing color of the regiment.
In July, 1782 estimates are given to create 100 new standards for the army. This is later cut to 50. It appears from other correspondence that the flags are not issued until March of 1783. Again there is no mention of the 1NH receiving these colors.