Revolutionary War battle flag to be sold
What may be the last remaining Revolutionary War flag in private hands will be put up for sale by a Philadelphia auction house this fall.
Freeman’s Auctioneers and Appraisers will offer the battle flag of the 8th Virginia Regiment during its “Pennsylvania Sale,” scheduled for Nov. 14.
The 8th Virginia was under the command of Peter Muhlenberg, known as “the Fighting Parson,” and saw significant action during the American Revolution.
The 41-inch-by-45-inch banner is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000.
Dating from the Revolutionary War, the “Grand Division” color is painted with a scrolling white ribbon and inscribed, “VIII Virg. Regt,” according to Freeman’s.
The silk flag has faded from its original salmon-red color to a golden hue as the flag descended in the Muhlenberg family line for more than 200 years, the auction house added.
“Revolutionary battle flags are rare and those in private hands are almost unknown or only fragments have survived – this is an extraordinary discovery,” according to Samuel M. “Beau” Freeman II, Freeman’s chairman.
“Muhlenberg is a legendary hero of the Continental Army and this flag represents his Virginia regiment,” he added. “This flag pre-dates the Tarleton Colors and may be the last remaining battle flag in private hands.”
Muhlenberg, a Lutheran minister, apparently had a flair for the dramatic. According to a mid-19th century biography of the Pennsylvania native, on Jan. 21, 1776, he gave a sermon, focusing on the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, which starts with, “To everything there is a season…”; after reading the eighth verse, “a time of war, and a time of peace,” he declared, “And this is the time of war.”
He then took off his clerical robe to reveal his military officer’s uniform.
Within half an hour, 162 men were enrolled and by the next day Muhlenberg led 300 men from Shenandoah County to form the nucleus of the 8th Virginia.
The 8th Virginia was known as the “German Regiment,” and consisting primarily of German-American settlers from various areas of southwestern Virginia and West Virginia.
Muhlenberg’s military prowess enabled him to rise through the ranks to become a major general by the end of the war.
Muhlenberg was elected to the US House of Representatives and, later, to the US Senate. He died in 1807.