Stars and Stripes, First and Forever - 9/3/1777

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On September 3rd of 1777, the American national flag with the stars and stripes design was carried in battle for the very first time, as ordered by Patriot General William Maxwell. This happened during the Revolutionary War. The American soldiers were to fight the British soldiers, as well as the Hessian (German) soldiers the British had hired to help them fight their battles. The battle took place at Cooch's Bridge, where the nearest city is Newark, Delaware. The battle of Cooch's Bridge was the only Revolutionary War battle that was fought in the colony of Delaware. At the end of the skirmish, the property on which Cooch's bridge stood was taken over by the British, who promptly regrouped and left. The Americans were seriously outmanned and outgunned, despite the clever tactics they had learned from the Native Americans. 

Three months earlier, on June 14th, the Continental Congress had stated that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes, red and white.” The resolution further stated that “the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” This resolution was most likely meant to be a naval ensign. In fact, it was found between other naval and marine paperwork. Still, the design was adopted by the United States as the flag of a new nation. After all, they did arrive by ship.

The flag had 13 alternating stripes of white and scarlet, with a royal blue field in the upper left corner, and a circle of 13 evenly spaced white stars at the center of the blue field. At the time, there were 13 colonies, which were later known as the first thirteen United States. The thirteen stars in the original United States flag (not to mention the thirteen stripes) represented Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. Some say the stars and stripes design was conceived by Betsy Ross at the request of George Washington, but no one has ever been able to prove or disprove this theory. 

From that day until 1959 (when Hawaii, the last state, was added), every time a new state entered the union, a new flag was designed to include it. It was basically the same flag, with an increasing number of identical white stars. They used to also add new stripes to the design. However, Congress must have thought it looked too busy, because a legislation was passed in 1818 ordering the flag returned to its original design of exactly thirteen stripes, with only the stars increasing in number to symbolize each new state. The current 50-star version of the United States flag, its 27th design enhancement, was adopted on July 4th 1960.

Names for the American flag include the American flag; The United States flag; The National flag of the United States of America; The Red, White and Blue; The Stars and Stripes; Old Glory; and the Star Spangled Banner.

In 1949, Congress officially designated June 14th as Flag Day. 

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Nancy Reyes

Senior Writer

One of our top senior writers, Nancy came to us wanting to break away from the politics that comes with major news corporations. She leads our team of historical writers in creating the best engaging content out there that keeps our readers coming back for more. She is an enthusiast of all things medieval and has been a member of her renaissance fair group for 15 years. She received her degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California and hopes to one day travel the world.