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Stonington, Connecticut (U.S.)

New London County

Last modified: 2016-02-27 by rick wyatt
Keywords: stonington | connecticut | new london county |
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Stonington Battle Flag

The town of Stonington was the place of a famous battle during the war of 1812. Quoting Wikipedia:
"During the War of 1812, four British vessels, HMS Ramillies, HMS Pactolus, HMS Dispatch, and HMS Terror, under the command of Sir Thomas Hardy, appeared offshore on August 9, 1814. The British demanded immediate surrender, but Stonington's citizens replied with a note that stated, "We shall defend the place to the last extremity; should it be destroyed, we shall perish in its ruins." For three days the Royal Navy pounded the town, but the only fatality was that of an elderly woman who was mortally ill. The British, after suffering many dead and wounded, sailed off on 12 August.",_Connecticut

In "The Day", 19 October 2008, Michael Naughton reports the effort made to preserve the historic battle flag from 1814, showing a photograph of the venerable flag handled by textile conservators:
The flag is one of the town's oldest and most beloved artifacts, a sentiment that was clearly seen in the careful cleaning it underwent in the basement of the historical society's Woolworth Library.
According to the historical society, the 11-by-18-foot flag was crafted by women in the sewing circle of the Stonington Congregational Church as a standard flag for the local 8th Company of the 30th Connecticut Regiment. It consisted of 16 stars and 16 stripes, leading historians to believe it was made between 1796, when Tennessee entered the union, and 1803, when Ohio became the 17th state.
The flag was last on public display in a glass case in the Ocean Bank building, leased by this historical society and close to the battle site. Because the glass display case was not airtight, however, the flag was affected by sunlight and particles in the air from the building's old furnace.
Baker [Director of the historical society] is considering having a replica of the flag crafted, using the analysis to find similar wool, for display. She said it's difficult finding a balance between preservation and the public's affection because the flag's importance to the town."

The article also gives the timeline of the flag, as reconstructed by the historical society:

  • 1796-1803: Women of the Stonington Congregational Church sewing circle crafted the battle flag
  • 1814: Nailed to a staff, the flag flew over the battery where cannons drove away British warships attempting to attack Stonington borough
  • 1814-1895: Ownership changed among multiple keepers
  • 1895: Historical Society received flag soon after its founding
  • 1948-49: Tattered and falling apart, the flag was found in a drawer by society members who then mailed it to a Brooklyn atelier for preservation. The flag was stitched to a linen backing, which still is holding the remaining pieces together
  • 1953: The Ocean Bank building, near the battle site, became the location where the flag is publicly displayed
  • 2004: Preservationists took down the flag from public display at bank and sent for detailed analysis at URI [University of Rhode Island]
  • 2007: Flag returned to historical society
  • 2008: Flag unfolded, dusted and rolled for storage - The Day, 19 October
(See for a higher resolution image of the flag

Ivan Sache, 23 October 2008