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Legion of the United States Infantry Ensign, 1794--single figure

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W. Britain

Item Number: 16132

Legion of the United States Infantry Ensign, 1794

From 1792 to 1796, the United States Army was officially reorganized into combined arms units inspired by the classic Roman legions.  The Secretary of War, Henry Knox, and Major General Anthony Wayne, the commander of the Legion, had both begun their military educations with Julius Caesar’s Commentaries.  The parallels between the Roman Army’s campaigns in Gaul and the warfare on the North American frontier were significant.  With the recent disasters of 1790-91, an overhaul of the conventional organization of the small Federal army was thought to be best implemented with an increase in manpower.  Each regiment, now designated as a sub-legion, included infantry, riflemen, light dragoons, and artillery.

Very few early American military flags survive today.  Silk was the preferred material for flags in 18th and 19th century, and silk simply degrades becoming brittle, thus easily damaged beyond repair.  In many cases the only parts of early silk flags that survive are areas that have been painted with a design, the oil paint creating a protective surface encased by the linseed oil and pigments.  One rare surviving flag now in the collection of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point New York is the white silk flag of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Sub-Legion which descended in the family of Colonel Hamtramck after 1793.

Due to be released in NOVEMBER 2022.