This morning a Manifesto from the Grand Continental Congress was read by the Rev. Mr. Leonard, chaplain to the Connecticut forces upon Prospect Hill in Charlestown, to those troops encamped upon and near said hill.In his essay on the life of the Honorable Major-General Israel Putnam, former aide David Humphreys later described this flag as:
Our standard was presented in the midst of the regiments with this inscription upon it, “Appeal to Heaven;” after which Mr. Leonard made a short prayer, and then were dismissed by the discharge of a cannon, three cheers, and a war whoop by the Indians.
the new Standard, lately sent from Connecticut. . . .By the fall, other New England units had adopted this flag, or at least the English motto on it. On 20 Oct 1775, Gen. George Washington’s military secretary, Joseph Reed (shown above, courtesy of the U.S. Army’s Center for Military History), wrote to the colonels who were in Beverly arming schooners to attack British supply ships with this instruction:
On one side was inscribed in large letters, of Gold “An Appeal To Heaven,” and on the other were delineated the armorial bearings of Connecticut, which without supporters or crest, consist unostentatiously of three Vines: with this motto, “Qui transtulit, sustinet” [He who transplants, sustains]
Please to fix upon some particular color for a flag, and a signal by which our vessels may know one another. What do you think of a flag with a white ground, a tree in the middle, the motto “Appeal to Heaven”? This is the flag of our floating batteries.The ships those men were equipping did adopt that flag. We know that from sources in London reporting on the capture of one such ship, the brig Washington, out of Plymouth. The descriptions were:
- Sir Hugh Palliser to the Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, 6 January 1776: “Captain Medows has brought the American vessel’s colours, it is a white field with a green pine tree in the middle: the motto, Appeal to Heaven.”
- London Chronicle: “In the Admiralty office is the flag of a provincial privateer. The field is white bunting; on the middle is a green pine-tree, and upon the opposite side is the motto, ‘Appeal to Heaven.’”
- Almon’s Remembrancer, item dated 6 Jan 1776: “Captain Meadows has likewise brought her colours, which are a pale green palm-tree, upon a white field, with this motto, ‘We appeal to heaven.’”
No actual period examples of this flag survive, to my knowledge. All the designs in flag books are guesses at what they looked like.