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Thread: John Paul Jones' Flag

  1. #1
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    Default John Paul Jones' Flag

    It occurred to me today that the flag on the Bonhomme Richard miniature never flew on the ship. It was knocked together for the Serapis in a Dutch port, as a guess what the American flag was supposed to look like.

    This brings two additional questions: the American frigate Alliance's flag had been registered the day before, and looked approximately like what we would expect, why didn't Jones go with that? And, if he made it up after the battle to avoid a diplomatic row, what flag was the BHR flying in the battle?

  2. #2
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    Default

    This webpage shows pictures of flags from that time period. It may give you some ideas but it does not show the flag flown on the Bonhomme Richard during the battle.

    http://www.loeser.us/flags/revolution.html

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    From my reading, a lot of Privateers favoured a version of the Rattlesnake flag, but without any definitive source to go on I wouyld go with the nearest of the flags known to be associated with Jones. To point out another flag annomaly, if this makes your mind any easier, the British models which he comes up against are also wearing the wrong flags. Should be the pre 1801 version.

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  4. #4
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    Continuing on from what Dave had discovered and from Dobbs' remark, I had a look at the site which dave had Flagged up. Here is the Sp for the flag and its origins as Dobbs described it.

    Name:  serapis.gif
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    The Texel or Serapis Flag 1779.

    On September 23, 1779, John Paul Jones lost his first ship, the C.N.S.Bon-Homme Richard, in battle with the British frigate H.M.S. Serapis. As the Bon-Homme Richard sunk he boarded and captured the H.M.S. Serapis, then sailed the badly damaged prize ship into the Dutch harbor of Texel, where it eventually was turned over to the French. The British Ambassador demanded the ships Sherapis and Alliance, and their crews, be seized as pirates "because they flew no recognized flags," and turned over to them.
    The story behind this flag was that our Ambassador to France, Ben Franklin, was then asked what the new countryís flag looked like. A flag based on Franklin's faulty description was then painted for the French court, who officially recognized it. Copies were then sent to various European ports including Texel, where the harbor master showed John Paul Jones the drawing of Franklinís version of the American flag. Jones had one made and proudly raised this flag when he sailed back to the colonies on the Alliance.

    Rob.


    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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