Jump to content

American Flag - War of 1812


Recommended Posts

Just finishing up Amati's kit of an American Gunboat from the War of 1812 and I'm dealing with the flag now.


FYI, this is a lateen rigged row galley that Amati calls the "Arrow" and bills it as a gunboat from the Battle of Lake Champlain. It is straight out of one of Chapelle's books, and apparently it may or may not have actually been built, but is a very interesting subject and has been a fun build. 




While I plan to make my own flag, I have the flag included in the kit, and it brings up the issue of a "proper" naval flag for the War of 1812. I've searched various online sources and don't see anything like this one, which shows 17 stars and 13 strips.


It seems the US had 18 states at start of the war, with Louisiana becoming the 18th state in April of 1812.


I would have attributed this difference to kit manufacturer error, which does happen. But, then it occurred to me that the most famous American flag, the "Star Spangled Banner" that flew over Fort McHenry, had only 15 stars (and 15 stripes). And, that seems to be the dominant configuration for any flag shown of the War of 1812.


I know there was no real standardization of the American flag, and these things were hand made, and not to my knowledge by a "flag maker", but by seamstresses. Still, I have to wonder why it was made the way it was. Was there a conversation like: "How many states are there now? Ugh, one can hardly keep track of these things – they keep letting in more and more of them... Well, this one's just going to have to have 15. I'm certainly not going to redo it for the paltry sum we're getting paid."


Anyway, I could certainly make a 15-star, 15-stripe flag with this gunboat, but I was wondering if anyone has more definitive info about it?




Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the 1795 flag act the two extra stars and stripes were added for Kentucky and Vermont. Tennessee (1796) and Ohio (1803) Louisiana (1812) entered as states, however no new flag act was established. Various unofficial flags were flown with the additional stars and stripes.  The United States flag was fifteen stars and stripes throughout the war of 1812. In 1818 Congress decreed that one star would be added for each state on the 4th of July following statehood, and there was to be thirteen stripes to represent the 13 original states. There was no standard pattern for the arrangement of the stars until 1912.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Henry! I knew someone here would know the facts.


While the War of 1812 has always been a favorite subject of mine, it had never occurred to me that there were more states than stars on the flag during this time. 


I guess Amati's flag could have been one of many unofficial versions. I will probably go with the official 15 stars and 15 stripes flag.


Much appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a 15 star/15 stripe flag (replica) that I was presented as part of a War of 1812 celebration at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park in Buffalo, NY. A note that came with it said the flag was used  May 1, 1795, through July 3, 1818. This would have been on Lake Erie and that area.


The flag was 3x5 (actually 60 x 34 inches).



Edited by Dr PR
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Phil (Dr. Phil?),


I've been dragging my feet on this a bit, but today, I finally got around to making something in Adobe Illustrator. I haven't made a flag like this using Illustrator for a while, so I had to re-familiarize myself with the star tool.



I was going to make some painting stencils using my vinyl cutter. But, seeing that this is a basic kit build, that seemed to be overkill. So, instead, I opted for a basic, fold-in-half flag printed on my Canon inkjet printer. I think it turned out quite well for what it is.



The piece of line showing is not the flag halliard, but a piece of line that will help attach the flag to the halliard. I used 3M Super 77 to glue up the flag halves, and I may clean up some of white paper edge that you see on the red stripe and blue field at the top edge, or I'll just use scissors to carefully trim it.


In any case, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. As you can see, I went with the more square-ish proportions from before the flag proportions were standardized. Off to mount it on the model.


Thanks all, for the help!




Link to comment
Share on other sites

1.  A good source for images of almost any flag you would want.



2.  My understanding is the model ARROW was based loosely on the gunboat ALLEN.  It was the subject of a doctoral paper by (forgot the name) at Texas A&M University.  Maritime archeologist Kevin Cristman from that organization gave a presentation on that ship/boat at the SMA conference in the 90s.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Chuck, that info on the Allen is something I was unaware of. Thanks for the heads up on this.


I looked up Crisman's work on the Allen and found some interesting leads. You may very well be right about Amati's kit being loosely based on the Allen. Just as the Allen appears to be loosely based on designs by William Doughty. Thanks for interesting and useful leads!


Of course, it won't much difference to my model, which is essentially done. But, the information is interesting enough to follow up on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

     Dr. Crisman gave the presentation but the dissertation was by Eric Emery.  It is unpublished and you have to go thru TAMU to get it.  The dissertation appears to have been completed in 2003 but I want to say Dr. Crisman's presentation at the SMA conference in Long Beach was 2002.  I asked about ARROW and ALLEN, he rattled off several areas of difference...but I am very certain one was based on the other.


    Good luck with the flag.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...