War of 1812 Kentucky Battle Flag
“United We Stand”

Following the 1813 Battle of River Raisin near present day Monroe Michigan, a battle flag was captured from Kentucky soldiers by the British army. There is sparse historical documentation of the origin and or longevity of this flag. How long did it exist before it's capture? Was this flag still in use for the duration of the 1812 war and beyond? If there is a certainty, it is that this is a very rare example of an early military flag carried to battle by volunteer Kentuckians when their state was still in its infancy.

The tattered flag resided in England for some years after its capture. Before it eventually deteriorated with age, photographs were taken permitting the missing sections of the flag to be digitally reproduced and an image of how the flag had once appeared was generated. The interpretive artwork included a shield breasted eagle, nine stars and a banner with the words “United we Stand”. The eagle clutches three arrows in one talon, and a pole with a red liberty cap in the other. Interestingly, the red cap is similar in style to the Phrygian cap, a symbol of French freedom, and may graphically represent Kentucky's early 19th century Jeffersonian-Republican political leanings and sentiments with France.

It is surmised that this was the standard carried by Kentucky militia serving under United States Army General, James Winchester, during the War of 1812 and at the River Raisin battle when it fell into British hands. Many of these volunteer Kentuckians perished during and after what has become known as the River Raisin Massacre. Some of the Kentucky militia and American soldiers who were wounded, captured or surrendered following the battle were later killed and scalped by Indians allied with the British. This was the worst defeat, in terms of casualties and losses of American soldiers and militia, during the entire War of 1812.

In 2009, William Otter, former Oldham County Kentucky historian and descendant of James Winchester, commissioned a faithful likeness of the 1812 Kentucky battle flag and has had these flags reproduced (image of the motif-lower left).

The 1812 Kentucky Battle Flag is now available for purchase elsewhere on this web site. Kentucky military historians, War of 1812 reenactors, genealogists who can trace their lineage to Kentucky militiamen, or indeed anyone interested in Kentucky's contribution to this important period of American history will be proud to own this replica of an extraordinary Kentucky battle flag.

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Remember the River Raisin!