Happy Flag Day

Even in Preble’s day, the flag had to be guarded day and night to prevent souvenir hunters from making away with bits of it-Note the relative size of the Marine complete with heavy white buff leather belts, M1859 pattern enlisted dress frock coat with fringed epaulettes and tall painted shako. This particular antebellum uniform would be replaced in 1875.

This is the first known photograph, taken on 21 June 1873 in the Boston Navy Yard by then-Commodore George Henry Preble, of the Great Garrison Flag– the famous flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem. The flag was flown over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during the bombardment of the position by the Brits in 1814. Preble, entered the Navy as a midshipman on December 10, 1835, and retired in 1878 as a rear admiral after a 43-year career.

While at the Boston Naval Yard, Preble had the cotton and dyed English wool bunting flag sewn to a piece of sailcloth in order to preserve it and penned the first book about the ensign, History of the American Flag. Even in Preble’s day, the flag had to be guarded day and night to prevent souvenir hunters from making away with bits of it– and swaths cut from the banner before then still surface today. 

The flag has been in the Smithsonian’s collection since 1912 and was restored/stabilized in 2008.

The preserved Star-Spangled Banner today is on display in its own protective chamber at the Smithsonian, and you can thank RADM Preble for that. (Hugh Talman / NMAH, SI)

Washington’s Standard

Also, if you are in the Philadelphia area this week/end, the faded and fragile blue silk flag known as the Commander-in-Chief’s Standard that marked General George Washington’s presence on the battlefield during the Revolutionary War will be on display this Flag Day through Sunday, marking its first public display in Philadelphia since the war itself. The Museum of the American Revolution is bringing the old banner out from secure archival storage for the event.

The AmRev will also have famous original Monmouth Flag and the Forster Flag on display, two of the oldest surviving flags from the American Revolution, dating to 1775-6.


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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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