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Silk flags with gilt appliqué stars dating to the 19th century are among the finest quality flags made during the period and are very scarce.  The expense of silk and the special nature of their construction meant that they were often reserved for specialized uses, most commonly by military units.  This particular flag of 13 stars dates from the mid 19th century, likely from the Civil War era.  It is a beautiful example of a silk flag of the period.  It is the only gilt-on-silk flag that I've encountered in a 13 star pattern.  The others that I'm aware of, including the 42 Star Medallion example IAS-0151 and the 34 Star Great Star example IAS-0105, feature the full complement of stars. 

The faded colors of this flag are particularly beautiful, and the gilt stars, which do not fade, stand out in stark contrast to the powder blue canton and pink faded stripes.  The presence of a rope in the hoist and separation in the top corner of the canton suggests that the flag was flown outdoors for a period of time.  The use of this flag is somewhat speculative, but its small size, at just 13 inches high and 22 inches wide, would limit its military use to that of a small flank marker, a custom camp color, or perhaps a personal command flag for a unit commander.  The gilt-on-silk construction of the flag and the precision alignment of the applied stars indicates that the flag was of the highest quality manufacture.  The pattern of a circular or oval wreath of 12 stars around a single central star is known as the 3rd Maryland or Cowpens pattern and it is rare among the known patterns of 13 star flags.  It is the pattern thought to have been carried by the 3rd Maryland Regiment during the famous 1781 Revolutionary Battle of Cowpens in which General Daniel Morgan defeated Lieutenant Colonel Banastare Tarleton's forces in one of the most decisive and significant American victories of the war.  Overall, this beautiful and fragile flag has remained remarkably intact, a unique example among its other 13 star peers.


Learn more about the fabrics used in flag construction. Star Count:  13

Dates:  circa 1865

War Era:  Civil War

Statehood:  Original 13 Colonies

Construction:  Gilt Painted Stars on Sewn Silk

Catalog Number:  IAS-00237


A Rare 40 Star
Homemade Flag

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