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U.S. Early Militia Regimental Color

Sub-collection: U.S. Military

Early American Regimental Color of the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 5th Division
This hand-painted, blue silk color is under review and its history is currently being researched. It was identified at auction as an 1830s New York State Militia (NYSM) flag; however it bears none of the traditional attributes of existing NYSM flags, bringing that credit into doubt. Instead it is thought to be an early militia regimental color created for an unidentified unit sometime during the 1812 to 1830s period. During this timeframe, the US regular army and federalized volunteer regiments never designated brigades or divisions on their regimental flags; only the state militias made a practice of this type of unit designation.

Inscribed to the 2nd Regiment of the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Division, this flag mimics the blue flag with the American eagle arms in the center, introduced as the United States National Color in the 1790s. In 1833, with the appropriate unit designations, this style of flag - a blue field with the American eagle arms - became the U.S. Regimental Color and was the basis for regular army, militia and volunteer colors.

The eagle is grasping the traditional American attributes of the arrows of defense and the olive branch symbolizing the power of peace in its talons while in its beak is a blank scroll. Below the eagle is a panoply of arms including swords, a trident, a stylized United States flag with 14 stars and a stylized American shield of 13 stripes within a cartouche, standards, a trumpet, musket, cannon barrel and cannon balls.

In front of the panoply of arms is a scroll with the unit designation: "2nd Reg. 2nd Brgde. 5th Divsn". This is an indication of the regiment and the higher echelons to which it was assigned. Permanent division level organizations were confined to more populous states but since it was rare that the militia would ever assemble in units larger than regiments; the higher commands were probably largely symbolic.

This flag was likely to have been locally produced, as it is entirely different from surviving examples of colors made at federal arsenals. The flag is in excellent condition but it does show some signs of use. This is visible in the upper and lower fly corners where the arc of white painted stars seem to fade and become less distinct towards the fly and it is most likely that the paint simply wore off as the flag was flown.

The central device on this color is the American eagle depicted in a fierce pose with its neck down and its head oriented towards the fly, which is a stance that was popular on American military flags before the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War.

Based on the early period flags that have survived from the 1792 - 1845 eras (of which there are only a few), the motif of this National or Regimental Color, depending on the exact period, shows many similar characteristics. It has been reported that this flag was examined by an acclaimed military flag expert; the late Howard Madaus. This needs to be confirmed and his findings will be examined.

As of July 2012, we only have the flag itself to examine and we just have hearsay and comments about its other attributions to go on. The mission of the Zaricor Flag Collection (ZFC) is to locate what scholarly work has been done on this flag and combine it with the ZFC files on regimentals to identify its history and period of use because of the extreme rarity of regimental flags from the early history of their use. The ZFC has nearly two dozen Regimental/National Colors in the collection, many of which are from the Civil War and earlier periods. The earliest, until this flag, is from 1819 (ZFC2206).

Pre-Civil War regimental flags are exceedingly rare and the Zaricor Flag Collection is pleased to have some other fine examples. Please see ZFC0001, ZFC2509 and ZFC3498 for other examples.

Research is ongoing into all known units, both state and federal, with this unit appellation in the hope that the identity of this regiment can be revealed.

Exhibition History:
Museum of Art & History
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz Collects
11 August - 25 November 2012

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library
The Exhibit
Simi Valley, CA
1 June 2014 to 30 September 2014

ZFC Significant Flag
Item is Framed

• US Militia, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 5th Division, 1st quarter 19th century.
• Sold as 1830-1850 New York State Militia Flag at Eldred's Auction, East Dennis, MA, 2002
• Acquired by Horse Soldier, military antiques, Gettysburg, PA, until sold.
• Anonymous collection in California until 2012.
• Sold via Heritage Auctions, Inc., Dallas, Texas to Zaricor Flag Collection, 2012.


Militia (United States), Wikipedia, 10 July 2012, from:

2nd Regiment New York State Militia, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History, 10 July 2012, from:

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection
Heritage Auctions, Inc.



Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 55
Length of Fly 87


Size of Stars 5


Is it framed? yes
Frame Height 67
Frame Length 92
Comments on Frame Wood with golden-yellow finish.


Number of Stars 13
How are the stars embeded? Painted
Are there stars on obverse? yes
Comments on Stars In an arc over an American Eagle
Star Pattern In an arc


Comments on Stripes 13 Stripes are not part of the color's design, but are a part of the emblem.


Description of Crest/Emblem American Eagle, militaria & a unit designation


Nation Represented United States


Fabric Silk
Comments on Fabric Flag had been conserved, silk exhibits some evidence of fracturing & repair or mitigation.


Stitching Hand


Type of Thread Needs Analysis
Thread Material Needs Analysis


Comments on Method of Attachmen Ties were a commom method of attachment for early militia colors
Method of Attachment Ties

PDF Files
Letter of Provenance


Research Documents


Condition Good
Damage Used, worn, paint on stars worn off, some evidence of fracturing & mitigation
Displayable yes


Date 1812 - 1845

Exhibit PDFs
A Lincoln Rail Splitter to Rushmore


Exhibition Copy Museum of Art & History
Santa Cruz, CA 10 August to November 2012

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library
The Exhibit
Simi Valley, CA
1 June 2014 to 30 September 2014

4 Early American regimental Color of the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 5th Division, 1830s. Courtesy of the Zaricor Flag Collection,

Exhibition Images




Frontispiece Detail

Frontispiece Detail

Page 9

Page 9

ZFC3754, an early militia color form the era of the Black Hawk War on display at the Ronald Reagan Library & Museum exhibition A. Lincoln: Railsplitter to Rushmore.

ZFC3754, an early militia color form the era of the Black Hawk War on display at the Ronald Reagan Library & Museum exhibition A. Lincoln: Railsplitter to Rushmore.