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Washington Cruiser Flag

"An Appeal To Heaven"


This flag was chosen by General George Washington to be flown by the original colonial ships of war in Boston Harbor. Col. Joseph Reed, George Washington's military secretary, writes to the agents outfitting the ships, "Please fix upon some particular color for a flag and a signal by which our vessels may know one another. What do you think of a flag with a white ground and a tree in the middle with the motto: 'An Appeal To Heaven'?"



Colonel Reed's suggestion was approved but because of a shortage of "Green Tree Flags" (and almost everything else during these trying times) it does not continue for long. Also, while the design was striking the colors faded very quickly on the open seas and quick recognition of friend or foe at sea often meant the difference between victory and defeat. Ironically, the fabric for these flags is imported from England. It is not until after the Civil War that a mill in the United States will produce material suitable for flags. The obvious outlining in the flag represents the stitching, as all designs of this type were appliqued onto a base fabric and the quality of the flag was very dependent on the seamstress.


This flag today is flown over hospitals of the United States Navy.



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