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Pennsylvania Colonial/Revolutionary War Flags (U.S.)


Last modified: 2016-12-17 by rick wyatt
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Philadelphia Light Horse
First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry

[Philadelphia Light Horse flag] image by Randy Young, 11 February 2001

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

This flag belongs to the First Troop, Philadelphia Light Horse. The colors are listed as: "Bright yellow field, silver fringe. Union Jack as in the Continental Colors; bay horse with a white star on the forehead on the crest; gold knot and radiating ribbons on a blue shield, silver ribbons below and on the border around the shield; silver letters L.H. (Light Horse). Supporters: a rosy-cheeked Indian, his kilt with gold and red feathers, red headdress, gold quiver with blue strap, buff moccasins; an angel with bluish wing, purple robe and golden trumpet."

The narrative:
"Captain Abraham Markoe gave this flag to the troop in 1775. For many years it was believed to be the earliest flag of stripes in the United States, but close examination of the original proves that the stripes were added over the existing Union Jack canton. The 'Continental masquerading as an Indian' holding a staff with a liberty cap and the trumpeting angel symbolized liberty and fame."
Randy Young, 11 February 2001

The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry (FTPCC), founded in 1774, is the oldest continuously serving unit of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. The original Troop Flag, which was carried when the Troop was General George Washington's bodyguard, and also in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown, is in the Troop Museum at 23rd & Ranstead, Philadelphia, PA 19103. You can obtain more information at
Sergeant Gordon Martin II, 8 August 1999

[Defaced Philadelphia Light Horse flag] image by Pete Loeser, 12 November 2008

From some research I have been doing, the Colors of the Philadelphia City Light Horse Troop were slightly defaced in 1776 by their artist James Claypoole. The British Union that had been originally painted in the canton was covered by thirteen blue and silver stripes to represent the united colonies. I'm not sure if this is fact or legend.
Pete Loeser, 12 November 2008

Flag of the First Pennsylvania Rifles

[Flag of the 1st Pennsylvania Rifles image by Rick Wyatt, 10 September 1999

The flag has a green border and a red center. On the upper left hand corner are the letters "P.M. i R" In the center is a lion, and an American capturing the lion with a huge net. At the bottom, there is a legend "Dominari Nolo" (I Will Not Be Dominated).

This is a flag from the American Revolution: that of the First Pennsylvania Rifles, a militia troop, of sorts. The PM refers to "Pennsylvania Militia", and the i R is "1st Rifles."The legend refers to the American's desire to be free from the King of England.
Nick Artimovich, 25 April 1996

The flag was raised as Thompson's Rifle Regiment or Battalion in 1776; renamed 1st Pa in 1777, and was also known as the 1st Continental Regiment.

The device shows a hunter trying to snare a lion, and the motto underneath reads 'Dominari Nolo' - I refuse to be subjugated. The original flag is in the William Penn Memorial Museum in Harrisburg, PA.

The flag is discussed on pp116-117 of 'Standards and Colors of the American Revolution' by Edward W. Richardson (Univ of Pennsylvania Press, 1982); and in an article by Wendy M. Werner & John N. Armstrong, '1st Continent Regiment / 1st Pennsylvania Regiment flag' in the journal Military Collector and Historian Spring 1975.
Ian Sumner, 4 July 2011

Hanover Associators

[Hanover Associators flag] image by Randy Young, 1 February 2001

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

This flag belongs to the Hanover Associators, and is on page 17. The colors are listed as "Red field and trim on cap; yellow fringe and scroll; black lettering and cap; green ground and uniform with cream legs, trim, feather and powder horn; brown belt and light blue rifle barrel."
"The Hanover Association of volunteers was formed on June 4, 1774, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They resolved 'that in the event of Great Britain attempting to force unjust laws upon us by strength of arms, our cause we leave to Heaven and our rifles.' The rifleman on the flag shows this point. This flag no longer exists, and the authority for it is an ancient engraving in the Pennsylvania State Archives."
Randy Young, 1 February 2001

1st Pennsylvania Regiment color

[1st Pennsylvania Regiment color] image by Randy Young

This flag can be found on page 6 of the book "Flags to Color, Washington to Lincoln," and is listed as the 1802 color of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment.

"Colors: Field of flag dark blue; stars and unit designation white; brown eagle with white head and tail; yellow beak and claws and shield border; white arrows; green branch; black ship with white sails against blue sky and sea; brown plow against yellow; yellow wheat sheaves against green."

"The ship for commerce and the plow and three sheaves of wheat for agriculture stood for Pennsylvania in the state seal. They appear here on the breast of the American eagle to suggest the availability of the state militia for national service. Through most of the nineteenth century the United States had a very small army, except during wartimes; it was not until World War I that the state militias became the National Guard and not until the Korean War that a large permanent army became the first line of defense."

Randy Young, 1 October 2004

Regarding the militia and the National Guard, the statement needs some clarification. The National Guard came into existence in the 1880's and replaced the militia in the organized form. With the first of the National Defense Acts (late 1800's/early 1900's) the militia was defined in two levels; the organized militia was the National Guard, subservient to the governors of the respective states and subject to US service in times of national emergency. The second part was the un-organized militia, which was every male from 18-45 years of age.

This is still written into the National Defense acts of today. Most states also have militia laws that echo the National Defense Act. I used to live in Ohio and their state laws have a three level effort; the organized militia being the National Guard of Ohio, the State Guard, who came under the governor's command whenever the Ohio National Guard was Federalized, and the un-organized militia. Ohio law holds that every male from 18-60 was in the un-organized state militia. Pretty much all US states have such militia laws although I do not know how many have State Guard forces. I now live in Tennessee and they have a State Guard like Ohio.

Greg Biggs, 3 October 2004