October 21, 2010
Colonial Williamsburg Acquires 18th-century Military Flag
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has acquired a British military flag that served as the King’s Color for the 96th Regiment of Foot during the era of the French and Indian War.
Measuring 5½ by 6½ feet, the silk standard is constructed of twelve white, eight blue and three red pieces, forming a Union flag of the type in use from 1707 to 1800. The center of the flag is embroidered with a Union wreath of roses and thistles — signifying the union of England and Scotland — enclosing the title REGT over the Roman numerals XCVI.
“Flags—or ‘colors’— are tangible, emotionally charged symbols of the nations or military units that fly them,” said Ronald L Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg vice president of collections, conservation and museums. “We are delighted to acquire this powerful emblem of the British crown from the French and Indian War period.”
The newly acquired flag is extremely well preserved — almost untouched — in contrast to other examples of the time period. When they survive at all, 18th-century flags usually are either tattered and unrecognizable or cut up into small fragments.
This flag would have been one of two used by the regiment during the four years of its existence. The other would have been the regimental color, a buff-colored flag with a similar design in the center of the flag and a small Union flag in the canton.
The 96th Regiment of Foot was formed early in 1761 in India from four companies of the 70th Regiment of Foot and five independent companies. Command of the 96th was given to The Hon. George Monson (1730-76), third son of the first Baron Monson. The flag’s provenance indicates that Monson brought the flag when he sailed for home in 1764. By 1765, the regiment ceased to exist.
To view the King’s Colors of the 96th Regiment of Foot and to learn more about the flag, go to Colonial Williamsburg’s eMuseum at www.history.org/kingscolour.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation.
Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at www.history.org.