The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has acquired a British military flag that served as the King’s Color for the 96th Regiment of Foot during the era of the French & Indian War.
Measuring 5 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet, the silk standard is constructed of 12 white, 8 blue and 3 red pieces, forming a Union flag of the type in use 1707-1800. The center of the flag is embroidered with a Union wreath of roses and thistles, signifying the union of England and Scotland, and enclosing the title REGT over the Roman numerals XCVI.
“Flags, or ‘colors’, are tangible, emotionally charged symbols of the nations or military units that fly them,” said Ronald Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg vice president of collections, conservation and museums. “We are delighted to acquire this powerful emblem of the British crown from the French and Indian War period.”
The newly acquired flag is extremely well preserved, nearly untouched in contrast to other examples of the time period. When they survive at all, 18th-century flags usually are either tattered and unrecognizable or cut up into small fragments.
This flag would have been one of two used by the regiment during the four years of its existence. The other would have been the regimental color, a buff-colored flag with a similar design in the center of the flag and a small Union flag in the canton.
The 96th Regiment of Foot was formed early in 1761 in India from four companies of the 70th Regiment of Foot and five independent companies. Command of the 96th was given to The Hon. George Monson (1730-76), third son of the first Baron Monson. The flag’s provenance indicates that Monson brought the flag when he sailed for home in 1764. By 1765, the regiment ceased to exist.
To view the King’s Colors of the 96th Regiment of Foot and to learn more about the flag, go to Colonial Williamsburg’s eMuseum at www.history.org/kingscolour