Bennington Flag

Bennington Flag Illustration

Known as the Bennington Flag, this version of a thirteen star flag is recognized by the large numerals “76” shown beneath an arc of stars. Purported to have been displayed at the Battle of Bennington in 1777, it may actually only date to the U.S. Centennial in 1876.

This unusual flag is known as the Bennington Flag because it was believed to have been flown at the Battle of Bennington in August of 1777.  It was passed down in the Fillmore family, and their family tradition explains that the flag was carried by Nathaniel Fillmore, the grandfather of U.S. President Millard Fillmore, at the Battle of Bennington.  However, the late Grace Rogers Cooper, who was the Curator of Textiles at the Smithsonian Institution, examined the flag and said it is made of material produced in the 19th Century and could not have been made in the 1770s.

Septa Fillmore, a nephew of Nathaniel Fillmore, is believed to have possessed the flag as early as 1812.  If that is true, it may have been made at about the time of the War of 1812, but Cooper suggested it was more likely made for the U.S. Centennial of 1876.  The numerals “76” symbolize the year 1776 when America declared Independence, but those numerals did not elicit feelings of nostalgia until many years later.  At the time of the centennial celebration, the “Heroes of 76” theme was widely used.  It would be, therefore, logical that a flag with the numerals “76” use prominently in its design could have been made for the U.S. Centennial.  The pattern of the Bennington Flag became popular again in 1976 for the U.S. Bicentennial.

In summary we cannot say exactly how old the flag is or when it was first used.   We can only say that the Bennington flag was not made until years after that battle of the Revolution.  Nevertheless, the Bennington Flag is a popular flag design that reminds us of the American Revolution and the year that the United States declared itself to be Free and Independent.

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