Guilford Courthouse flag
The North Carolina Militia Flag
This flag is unusual not only in its design of red and blue stripes, elongated white canton and eight-pointed stars, but its association with the the battle of Guilford Courthouse. As a result it is often referred to as the “North Carolina Militia Flag” or the “(Battle of) Guilford Courthouse Flag”.
It was not until 1909 that the first known history of the flag was recorded when it was presented to the Grand Masonic Lodge of North Carolina. At that time it was written that in 1854, at the presentation of the flag to the Mount Energy Masonic Lodge in Granville County, North Carolina, its owner, 81-year-old Major Edward Bullock, stated that it was carried “on the battlefields of North and South Carolina about the close of the War of the Revolution” by his father Macajah Bullock, a soldier who had served in the Granville County militia. Over the years, the flag has been linked closely with the battle of Guilford Courthouse, most likely because Guilford Courthouse was fought on March 15, 1781, near “the close of the American Revolution” and Granville militiamen fought here.
However, historical research offers no period documentation to support the above or prove that this flag or anything like it was used in the battle – or in the American Revolution! Modern textile studies and examinations of the original flag preserved since 1914 in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh conclude that it may have had possibly two more additional stars and as many as fifteen stripes. The use of cotton cloth as the primary fabric is another strong indicator of post-1790 construction. There are those who firmly believe in its Revolutionary War use while others, if all of these doubts are considered, believe the flag would have to date later than the Revolution, around 1800 after the United States had grown to fifteen states.
Whatever its age, it is still an old flag, a symbol of the young United States and an example of the period in the early years of this country when the arrangement of colors, stars, and stripes on the national flag remained the whim of the designer.
Its present dimensions are:
- 31 inches on the hoist (42 inches at the inner edge)
- 8 feet, 4 inches on the fly
- canton is approx. 35 by 73 inches
- stars are 8 inches in diameter