The Culpeper Flag was carried by the Culpeper Minutemen from Culpeper County, Virginia. The men were part of Colonel Patrick Henry’s 1st Virginia Regiment formed in 1775. The flag was a version of the Gadsden Flag created earlier in the year by South Carolina representative to Congress, Christopher Gadsden, but with Patrick Henry’s famous words “Liberty or Death” added on the sides. This is one of the few American Revolution Flags that we can say with certainty was truly carried in the Revolutionary War.
The Culpeper Flag is a white flag with an American rattlesnake in the middle over the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” The words “The Culpeper Minutemen” are in a banner over the top of the snake and Patrick Henry’s famous words “Liberty or Death” are to the sides of the snake.
The Culpeper Flag was first used in 1775 and is a variation of the Gadsden Flag created earlier in the year by Congressman Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina. Gadsden served on Congress’ Marine Committee when it decided to outfit the USS Alfred and sister ships. Rhode Island captain Esek Hopkins was named the first commodore of the flotilla and the Alfred was his flagship.
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Christopher Gadsden felt it was very important for the commodore to have his own naval standard (flag) and he designed the Gadsden Flag and presented it to Hopkins at Philadelphia. For this reason it is sometimes also called the Hopkins Flag. The Gadsden Flag is a yellow flag with the American rattlesnake in the center above the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” Shortly after presenting the flag to Hopkins, Gadsden presented another Gadsden Flag to the State of South Carolina.
The rattlesnake became a symbol for the colonies before the French and Indian War as the result of an article and a cartoon published by Benjamin Franklin. In 1751, Franklin published a strident article in his Pennsylvania Gazette condemning the British practice of sending convicts to the American colonies. In the article, he suggested that the Americans should “return the favor” by sending a bunch of rattlesnakes back to England to be dispensed in the gardens of the noblemen who sent the convicts.
Flown by the first American Navy as it assembled under Commodore Esek Hopkins, the legendary First Navy Jack has since been a symbol of both the American Navy and spirit. The traditional thirteen stripes are crossed by a Timber Rattlesnake, which was especially significant in the American Revolution, as it became an avatar for the Colonial attitude. The snake does not strike unless provoked, and gives warning first with its rattle, which shown on the flag has thirteen layers. The bold words, “Don’t Tread on Me” reiterate the point and ensure that it is understood. Currently, in accordance with the orders of Secretary of the Navy, all US ships are to fly the First Navy Jack for the duration of the War on Terrorism, in honor of those killed on September 11, 2001.
Post time: Dec-19-2022