Maine's Flag Waves!


Historic Militia Flags of Maine

Maine has a large collection of existing historic flags being held in various institutions. Most of these are associated with the State Militia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Following are just a very few of these flags.

Thomaston Cavalry (c. 1800)

Used in 1806 at the funeral of the first Secretary of War, General Henry Knox. Maine Parks Department.

Fort Hill, Biddeford (1814)

Used in 1814 when the coast was on high alert due to British Warships in Atlantic waters. They attacked Baltimore and Washington, D.C. instead of Maine. Smithsonian Institution.

State Militia Colors (1822)

Perhaps among the most significant of Maine Flags, there are at least two of these four-color lithographed flags in existence. Lithography was a brand new technology in 1822. The Quartermaster-General cleverly turned an appropriation by the Legislature that was way too low into the flags needed by the regiments by the use of modern technology. The design is from the Westbrook Light Infantry Color that was painted by the famous flag painter John R. Penniman of Boston. Maine State Museum (another is in the Maine Historical Society.)

More information on this flag can be found on the Flags of the World Web Site.

Kennebec Guards (1825?)

A curious color, of unknown heritage. This double sided hand-painted silk flag features Lady Liberty on one side and the Marquis de Lafayette in front of the Bunker Hill Monument on the other. Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the monument in 1825, on his grand tour of America. I theorize this flag was intended to be used by an elite corps of militia when the Marquis was to visit the Kennebec Valley in 1825, but he was running late and did not make it. Maine State Museum.

17th Maine Volunteer Infantry (1862-64)

Maine possesses hundreds of flags from the Civil War, mainly in the collections of the Maine State Museum. A few of them are on display in the Hall of Flags, under the Capitol Dome in the State House in Augusta. A campaign to preserve and stabilize these and the other flags in the Museum's collections, called Save Maine's Colors is underway so that sufficient funds can be raised. Email me for more information.

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