L’Hermione’s Flag

L’Hermione’s Flag

I received an answer from someone with the Hermione Voyage regarding my question about the American flag she is flying.

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Per the response I got, the flag is a 1778-documented hand-stitched flag made by a flag expert named Steven Hill. They also sent this link to the following description of the flag from the Franklin Papers:

It is with Pleasure on this occasion that We acquaint your Excellency, the Flagg of the United States of America, consists of thirteen Stripes, alternately red, white and blue;—a small Square in the upper angle next the Flag Staff is a blue Field, with thirteen white Stars, denoting a new Constellation.

I had previously come across the Serapis (or John Paul Jones) Flag, which was the closest match in terms of image that I was able to find to L’Hermione‘s flag, but the blue stripes are in an irregular pattern that doesn’t correspond. The Serapis Flag was created out of necessity. John Paul Jones took command of the the conquered British HMS Serapis after his own ship was lost in battle.When Jones later arrived in a Dutch port sailing his captured ship, he needed a flag in a hurry, to avoid being treated as a pirate. And so the Serapis Flag was created. The Serapis Flag is thought to have possibly been based on Franklin’s description, although it is curious that he ended up with such a peculiar stripe pattern, which is certainly not indicated in the text.

Although the familiar red and white stripes had been adopted in the 1777 Flag Resolution, Franklin had been in France since a few months prior. Perhaps the final details just hadn’t gotten to him yet?

At any rate, given the variety of flag designs of the time, it’s almost surprising I wasn’t able to find an exact match to L’Hermione‘s flag. There were certainly a few that were quite similar.

I was really hoping the rationale would have a more direct connection to the original Hermione – perhaps evidence that she actually flew under a flag of that particular design. I am still rather glad they chose a more obscure flag, as I learned quite a bit as I tried to find some answers.

Happy belated Flag Day!

Weekend at Godfrey Bay

Weekend at Godfrey Bay

We’re deep in the craziness of All Stars softball, preparing for the regional tournament next week. Those girls have been working super hard though, and the coach kindly rewarded their efforts with the whole weekend off. (Hallelujah!)

We decided we better seize the opportunity and take Green Eyes out. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t all pretty. There were a few complaints. (I hate this boat!) And a few whines (I miss Tipsy Lady!) …and Alan and I were the primary offenders. It’s just true. We found our dream boat, and it’s hard to have to go backwards for a season. 

And there’s Piper. It’s not easy adding a dog to the boat that already seemed to small for the five of us- not to mention her fur, everywhere. 

So we decided to not go far. We motored down to Godfrey Bay, where we knew there was a nice little public beach. It was just about a two and a half hour trip. We got there just at sunset, Saturday evening.

  
Alan decided we better take Piper ashore to go to the bathroom, since I’ve pretty much dropped the ball on teaching her to go on a mat on the boat. He blew up the dinghy, we got all ready to go… And the dinghy motor wouldn’t start. So Alan rowed Savannah and Piper all the way to shore and back, in the dark… And Piper never did go to the bathroom while she was there. Yeah, definitely one of those nights. 

The next morning Alan rowed us all to shore to enjoy the beach before anyone else got there.

 
I gave Piper a nice walk, and the kids had enough beach time to get tired of it. This time Alan just pushed the dinghy most of the way back to the boat, since it was pretty shallow at least halfway back there.

 
 The kids swam along behind us.


Back at the boat, the kids had a grand time swimming. Alan even rigged a rope swing for them, which resulted in many exclamations of, “this is the best day of my life!” Sammy dubbed it the “Pirate Pirate Course.” It turns out there is still much fun to be had, even on the old boat we’ve mostly outgrown.

 

  
 And Piper…. Well,  there is work to be done there, for sure. While we were enjoying the Pirate Pirate Course, she peed on a cushion. Yuck, yuck, yuck! But we’ll get the hang of this dog on the boat thing, because she is a much loved companion, and she mostly seems to enjoy it, too.

   
 

Lafayette’s Hermione

On Sunday we went to Yorktown to see Lafayette’s Hermionethe replica of the ship on which the Marquis de Lafayette traveled from France to New York in 1780, with the message for George Washington that France would be sending troops to aid the colonies in their struggle for independence. This assistance of course became instrumental in Washington’s eventual victory at Yorktown.

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The replica was built in Rouchfort, France. Construction began in 1997, and she was finally launched in 2012. Yorktown was her first stop in America, but it will continue up the East Coast, with several stops on her goodwill tour, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, among others. She is definitely worth the look if you have the opportunity.

We were very disappointed to find that we missed getting tickets for deck tours. From what we heard, you pretty much had to be in line at dawn to get a ticket. She was still super impressive to see. The schooners Alliance and Serenity were also at the city dock, as well as the replica of the Godspeed, which was visiting from Jamestown Settlement. L’Hermione dwarfed them all.

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While we were there, we visited the Thomas Nelson house again, where we were greeted by a fantastic interpreter who represented a soldier in the Rhode Island Regiment, the only fully integrated regiment in the U.S. Army until the Korean War.

We had a nice picnic lunch at the Victory Monument and were lucky to see The Fifes and Drums of York Town perform twice.

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The historic waterfront area of Yorktown is always fun; it is just a fantastic little town where history truly comes alive all around you. This really was a special trip, though, with L’Hermione in port. She left Sunday evening to continue her tour up the coast.

One thing that really sparked my curiosity was the particular revolutionary flag that L’Hermione is flying.

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Of course the flag of the United States had not yet been standardized, but this is a version I have not seen anywhere else. The thirteen stars are in rows of 4, 5, and 4, and the stripes are red, white, and blue. I’m sure there must be a reason this particular flag was chosen, but I haven’t been able to find it. I’ve sent an email to the contract address on the voyage website, but until I hear back, I’m interested on any thoughts you might have.