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Continental Army (U.S.)


Last modified: 2005-12-17 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | continental army | headman | dragoons | sheldon |
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Colors of the U.S. Continental Army

According to orders of June, 1780, general officers in the Continental Army were to wear blue coats with yellow buttons, lined and faced in buff with yellow buttons, two epaulets and white or buff underclothes (meaning waistcoat and breeches). Prior to this General Washington wore substantially the same uniform, which is why it was adopted later. The colors were chosen because they were the colors of the Whig party in England. The Tories wore blue coats with red collars and cuffs.

The coats worn by Army soldiers played a part in flag design. In May 1779 the Board of War passed a plan on uniform design, in which all soldiers would wear blue coats. However, the facing colors would be different, as follows:

  • White facings: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
  • Buff facings: New York, New Jersey
  • Red facings: Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia
  • Blue facings (white button holes): North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia

The colors of the New Jersey flag (buff, with the shield primarily in blue) were selected due to the fact those were the colors of the state's soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

In addition, the use of blue as the main color for the Army gave that color pre-eminence in the U.S. Of the 13 original states, 7 (New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, South Carolina) use blue as the main color. The first 2 states to join after independence (Kentucky and Vermont) do as well. All the armed forces wear blue as a dress uniform except the Army, although they didn't switch to green until this century and officers still have the option of wearing a blue version of the current uniform. Most executive departments of the federal government also have primarily blue flags (the presidential flag, for example).

Let it be known that all the information on Continental Army uniforms was culled from Uniforms of the American Revolution by John Mollo.

Kurt Stutt, 18 June 1995

2nd Regt. Continental Light Dragoons

[2nd Regt. Continental Light Dragoons flag] image by Randy Young, 12 March 2001

Source: "Flags to Color from the American Revolution."

This flag belongs to the Second Regiment Light Dragoons, Continental Line. The flag is described in the book as "Blue field, canton with gold and blue stripes; gold wings and rays on a dark blue disk; gold scrolls." There is also a little narrative of the flag and its regiment:

"The Second Regiment, Light Dragoons, was first led by Major Sheldon of Connecticut and later by the daring Major Tallmadge of New York who, at Lloyd's Neck, Ft. George and Ft. Slongo, took large numbers of the enemy without losing a man."
Randy Young, 12 March 2001

Headman Flag

[Headman flag] image by Randy Young, 13 March 2001

Source: "Flags to Color from the American Revolution."

This flag is listed as "The Headman Flag." The flag is described in the book as "Green field, gold stars (which are in a conjectural arrangement), scrolls, arms, column and Liberty Hat." There is also a little narrative of the flag:

"This flag, belonging to the Smithsonian's Museum of History and Technology in Washington, D.C., descended through the family of Sergeant Headman, probably from Pennsylvania. It was listed in 'New Standards and Division Colors,' published in 1778, but we do not know what regiments received the colors."
The inscription on the scroll reads "THIS WE WILL DEFEND OR DIE," and the word "LIBERTY" is written on the cap. The flag portrays thirteen arms grasping a column topped with a liberty cap, symbolizing the thirteen colonies united in their fight for freedom.

Randy Young, 13 March 2001