Thursday, 18 December 2008

Lee's Legion Standard

I thought I would just show you the flag for Lee's Dragoons. It was first carried at Guilford Courthouse and was carried until 1782. It has been mentioned that the term US was not in common usage at the time and it may be possible that the motto should read "Lee's Dragoons". However, by this stage of the war US was a fairly common term.
I have been asked to remove this image from my website but it can be viewed at the Sons of the revolution website.
I was asked to remove it as they needed special permission to have it on their website. I have had many remarks made that this flag was unlikely to have been carried by Lee's Legion and more likely to be an 1812 flag.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Greenryth,

    I would be interested in what evidence there is for this having been carried at GCH? Is there any provenance? You may be interested in the reasoning behind my scepticism that follows.

    Richardson's book on flags of the AWI has no mention or discussion of this flag and he took pains to examine and figure all the surviving original flags and contemporary images. The key word here is provenance. Richardson looks at all the evidence and find evidence for flags from the following mounted units: 2nd Light Dragoons, Pulaski’s Legion, the Philadelphia Troop of Light Horse and the 3rd Light Dragoons. Note Richardson neither makes mention of Lee’s Legion or any putative flag from that unit.

    The iconography on the ‘Lee’ flag is unlike any other illustrated from the Continental Army. The written style on Sheldon's regimental flags is ‘2nd Light Dragoons’. The feature that identifies both these flags and that of the Philadelphia troop of light horse as Continentals is the presence of thirteen bars in alternating colours representing the 13 colonies. The surviving standard of Pulaski's Legion has a European (possibly French) style to it but the rebel colonies are represented by 13 stars in a circle in the centre of the flag. The 'Lee flag' stands somewhat out of this style although I would be the first to admit that we do not have a great deal of original data. The basic argument is we have no contemporary evidence for it and it does not fit with known styles that can be documented.

    As to Lee’s Legion from 14 February 1780 it had been known as Lee’s Legionary Corps and was re-designated as the 2nd Partisan Corps on 1 January 1781 under which name it was disbanded on 15 November 1783. However the first time the US government raised a dedicated regiment of light dragoons was in 1808. There had been un-regimented troops of dragoons in the ‘Legion of the United States’ its successor.

    The first time, however, that any US government raised a cavalry regiment as opposed to individual troops since the disbanding of the Continental Army was in 1808 under the title: ‘Regiment of U.S. Light Dragoons’. The lettering ‘USLD’ appeared on the helmet plate initially authorised for this unit until being replaced by a prancing horse in 1812. My suspicion is that the ‘Lee’ flag relates to this unit (from 1812 the 1st Regt. US Light Dragoons when a second unit was raised) rather than the ‘Lee’ attribution.

    Apologies for droning on about this but if you can point me to any evidence that shows that the ‘Lee’ flag does have an any association with Lee’s Legion I would be happy to see it. I just do not think that it has any link but I am happy to be proved wrong if there is any evidence to the contrary. It is more grist to the mill! Likewise at the end of the day if you chose to put this flag with the figures that you have painstakingly converted and painted it is your prerogative. It would not be my choice but they are your figures ;-)