Historical Flags Project

The Salisbury Historical Society Historical Flag Project consists of twelve historic flags which are flown annually in Salisbury from Memorial Day Weekend until Veterans Day in November.

The poles and flags, and replacement flags have all been donated by Salisbury residents for the enjoyment of all.  

2017 was very hard on our flags. We had a few days of unusal very intense winds which destroyed a few flags. We will need to do quite a bit of replacing for 2018. Donations are always appreciated.

Many thanks as well to the Salisbury Fire Department for putting up and taking down our flags for us.




  • Link to Our History:  The historic flags remind us of the efforts of the early settlers to secure our way of life.
  • Honoring Veterans:  The historical flags honor veterans in our older graveyards or scattered in newer cemeteries within town who took part in the French and Indian Wars, The American Revolution and the War of 1812 and Civil War. You can link a Veterans data base on the  Burial Records Homepage   on this website. This is a listing (work in progress) of our town’s soldiers buried in each cemetery. An explanation of the codes on the column headings on the VETERANS list is explained on the Burial Records Homepage.
  •  Presenting Historically Accurate Flags:  As a Historical society our goal is to be as historically accurate as is possible. This is no small task when one considers that historians have lively discussions about some historic flags, when they first flew, if they flew at all in early history, their configurations and colors. We have made every effort to be accurate in our selection and go with prevailing expert opinion or simply tradition when necessary. 
  • Town Beautification: Not only are historical flags interesting but they are colorful and festive, creating a nice combination of town beautification, patriotism and town pride.
  • A Community Project:  We hope that this endeavor will encourage viewers to learn more about the history behind the flags and to also help us keep the flags flying for years to come. 
  • Sharing our History with Visitors:  Our town is designated as on the historic Currier and Ives Trail. Many of all ages travel our roads.  Our flags will be very visible and very likely photographed by quite a few tourists!
  • Would you like to help keep the Flags Flying?  From time to time the flags, as well as hardware, need sprucing up or replacing due to wind, rough telephone poles and sun damage. If you are enjoying the Project or appreciate the goals behind it would you like to join in the effort to keep the Flags flying? Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated. Thank you!                                                                                                                    


Two locations have been chosen: Salisbury Heights and east from South Road Village Crossroads rte 127 & rte 4


South to North

FLAG #1)  Flag honoring our part in the Rhode Island Campaign August 1778, Revolutionary War

According to the History of Salisbury by John Dearborn, 22 Salisbury sons took part in the Rhode Island Campaign, joining forces with other Continentals including the First Rhode Island Regiment.

Baptist Graveyard: Jonathan Fifield, Joseph Fifield , Moses Garland and Captain Benjamin Pettingill 

South Road Graveyard: Joseph Bean, Phineas Bean, Rd), Maj. Stephen Bohonon 

Calef/Bog Road Graveyard: William Calef was possibly a participant

-Donated by Ron and Rose Cravens

The symbols on this flag went on to become part of the Rhode Island State Flag. The anchor which was often found on tombstones in early graveyards signifies Hope rather than nautical connections.

Of Note: Initially, it was the flag of the fully integrated 1st Rhode Island Regiment consisting of 240 soldiers of which approximately 140 were African Americans and some Indians who joined forces with reinforcements from elsewhere to attempt to hold the Newport area.

1st Rhode Island reenactment On Facebook; Community Organization First Rhode Island Regiment



FLAG #2) FORT SUMTER  SC FLAG April 12, 1861 , early Civil War Era Flag  33 stars

#1) US Flag Civil War, Union

 US Flag Civil War, Union

Honoring our Civil War soldiers. When Abraham Lincoln took office in 1861 the official flag consisted of 33 stars.   The 33 stars is the Ft. Sumter flag (above) is one of the most famous Civil War era flags. This is the flag that was flown at Ft. Sumter, S.C. when the Confederates began bombarding it on April 12, 1861, the first official action of the Civil War.  Kansas joined shortly after.

   -Donated by Gail Henry

According to John Dearborn, History of Salisbury:

Known service deaths of Salisbury natives or residents: 

Bagley, Jonathan J.            Co. K,  4th Regt.  killed in action near Petersburg, VA., July 5, 1864

Bagley, Private William    Co. H,  8th Regt. killed at Port Hudson LA, June 14, 1863

Bean, George E.                  Co. A,  10th Regt.  enlisted in Manchester, killed at Cold Harbor VA., June 3, 1864

Blasidell,  Mesach W.             16th regt. died Cairo Illinois

Brown, Robert                      Co A 9th regiment wounded July 30th, 1864 died Aug 20th from injuries

Colby, Andrew J.  Private  Co. H,  8th Regt. died of disease at Baton Rouge LA., June 27, 1863

Colby, Charles                   16th regt. Port Hudson,  LA       July 20,1863

Corser, Nathan S.                22nd Mass. Infantry, killed at Gaines Mill.

Ekins, George (or Henry)      2nd Regt. died in hospital in Washington

French, Albert A.G.               died at Port Hudson. La July 29, 1863,

French, Henry Private           Portsmouth Virginia Sept 7, 1863 from disease

George Henry C.,                   died at Port Hudson La, July 29, 1863

Heath, Charles                        died 3 days after returning to Salisbury Aug 19, 1863

Kenniston, Willis or William  Co E.  Died of the Black Measles At Newport, Penn Feb. 18, 1863

Sanborn, Abraham S.         Co. G,  10th Regt.  credited to Manchester, died of disease at St. Augustine Fla.,  Sept 3, 1862

Scott, Harvey or Harry        Co E.   Died at Bermuda Hundred VA, Jan 30, 1865

Known service disabilities: Anson Glines mustered out 1863, William Whittemore mustered out 1862, Private Nathaniel Hodge severely wounded mustered out 1865, George Atwood wounded severely mustered out 1865

Those that died in the south are likely buried not far from where they fell and the exact location requires ongoing research.

Some known Civil War veterans in our cemeteries:

Baptist Cemetery: Mesach Blaisdell>Co. E 16th Regiment casualty. Died at the age of 20 after serving in battle in Louisiana.  He died on his way home from Mound City/Cairo Illinois (hospital?).

Bean Cemetery:      Moses Colby>Co. E 16th Regiment,  *James Haskell> Mass 54th regiment African American Regiment (see image below),  Capt. David McAllister>Co. E 16th Regiment, Edward Shurtleff

Maplewood Cemetery:  Abel Colby>Co. F, 1st Regiment, NH Heavy Artillery,  Perry Merrill>Co. B, 118th Regiment, NYV, John Muggett>  Co. F 5th Regiment, NHV

Mills Cemetery:   William Campbell>Co. 8th Regiment 111 Volunteer Inf,  James Farnum>10th regiment NHV, Anson Glines>Co. E 10th Regiment NH Inf injured,   Harrison Heath>Co. E 16th Regiment NHV casualty

Stevens Cemetery:    Charles Heath>Co. E 16th Regiment,   Evan Heath>Co. E 16th Regiment

*James Haskell is buried in the Bean Cemetery, but research continues as little is known of him.  He was a soldier in the Mass 54th African American regiment under Robert Gould Shaw who perished in battle and is immortalized with his soldiers in the sculpture shown here. 

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston created by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens, New Hampshire

FLAG #3)  Bunker Hill Flag,  Flag of New England, pre and Revolutionary War


#2) Bunker Hill


Honoring Abraham Fifield with others who fought at the battles of Bunker Hill and Bennington. Abraham Fifield used his revolutionary service pension to build and live in the home once occupied by Mary & John Philips on the West Salisbury Road.

-Donated by Mary Phillips

This flag honors the people keeping the home fires burning and the sons of Salisbury who volunteered, unsolicited and un drafted and appeared ready to fight to secure the elevated, strategic land at Charleston in order to control Boston harbor. 

Known participants in The Battle of Bunker Hill:

Baptist Graveyard: Ens Abraham Fifield, Joseph Fifield, Moses Garland, Capt.Benjamin Pettengill

BeanGraveyard:  Capt. John Smith

South Road Graveyard:  Benjamin Baker,  Sgt Moses Fellows

Stevens Graveyard:  Daniel Stevens

About Bunker Hill Flags:

This red flag is widely used as the “Bunker Hill Flag” and is sometimes called the Trumbull Flag. The John Trumbull painting below of the battle helped to imprint in the minds of the viewer that this flag was flown. 

The painter and map maker, John Trumbull, was known for making great efforts to paint with historical accuracy. though several miles away he was in a sense an eyewitness to the battle, observing it through a telescope. As a mapmaker John Trumbull made detailed maps of the military positions around Boston.  In time he was made an aide to General Washington. In his painting he showed the colonists carrying an English Red Ensign with a pine tree on a white field in the canton (the upper left corner). This became known as a Continental Flag and was a commonly used flag in New England.

This flag predates the Revolutionary War by many decades. At one early point the flag had a cross in the canton with the pine tree. At the urging of the Puritans the cross was removed though the flag flew in some areas of New England.  We often see a blue Bunker Hill Flag at flag stores today. John Trumbull create another painting which shows a blue flag which is perplexing. Some argue it was  faded from red. We will never know the exact details from the battle  but feel a certain confidence in choosing the Red Flag with White canton and PineTree to represent the Battle of Bunker Hill.



Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull painted after the Revolutionary War


For more information about this battle: https://www.myrevolutionarywar.com/battles/750617-bunker-hill/

FlAG #4) GRAND UNION FLAG,  Revolutionary War

#3) George Washington's , Grand Union, Boston Militia

George Washington’s, Grand Union, Boston Militia

This perplexing flag combines the British Flag and Rebellious 13 stripes. 

This Continental or Grand Union Flag (see 5 various names below) was displayed over the camp of Washington’s militia in Cambridge Mass and is also referred to as the Cambridge Flag. It shows the English Cross of St. George and the Scottish Cross of St. Andrew,  suggesting that the colonists were not ready for a total break with the mother country or perhaps its was just an easy transition to add the stripes of the rebellious colonies right onto the British Flag. In either case it was symbolic of rebellion against existing rule as is. 

-Donated by Paul Hynes and Chuck Motta

There are 13 stripes representing the 13 colonies in place of the solid red of the British flag. In depth information about this flag is courtesy of:https://www.patriotwood.com/blogs/news/15451473-3-important-grand-union-flag-facts-every-american-should-know


1.) The Grand Union is the United States’ first national flag

The Grand Union flag was created during the first year of the Revolutionary War. The designer and exact date of creation are unknown, but it is credited as the first national flag of the United States. It was an important signal that indicated increasing separation from the British.

2.) The Grand Union flag has five names

Over the years, this flag has been referred to in lots of different ways. Five names have stuck with it over time—here they are.

  • The Grand Union—this name originated during the United States’ Reconstruction Era. It was first applied to this flag by George Preble, in 1872. Since then, it has become the most popular name.
  • The Continental Colors—at the time, the United States was known as the United Colonies of North America. This name is likely a nod to that.
  • The Congress Flag—the Continental Congress met under this flag; that’s probably the origin of this name.
  • The First Navy Ensign—in December of 1775, a lieutenant in the newly formed Continental Navy raised the flag on the colonial warship USS Alfred, earning it yet another name.
  • The Cambridge Flag—it’s said that George Washington’s troops raised this flag near Cambridge, Massachusetts, on New Year’s Eve in 1776, spawning another moniker in the process.

3.) The Grand Union is a modified British flag

During the first year of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress had to create a flag to represent their military, government, and new nation. They were quite familiar with the British Red Ensign, a flag flown by the Royal Navy—and they probably had access to lots of these flags.

Turning a Red Ensign into a Grand Union was quite simple: simply sew six white stripes onto the red background to create the 13 alternating red and white stripes we’re all familiar with.

This practice didn’t last too long: the field in the top left was soon replaced with stars, and the Stars and Stripes as we know it was born. 

Flag #5)  Washington’s Cruisers Flag 1775, Revolutionary War

-Donated by Linda and Ed Denoncourt in memory of Philip Denoncourt who served as a decorated fighter pilot, US Navy, WW2. Philip Denoncourt also served as President of the Salisbury Historical Society from 1982-1984. 

This flag was used by George Washington on a squadron of six schooners which he outfitted at his own expense in the fall of 1775. This flag was a variation of the New England Pine Tree flag. The Continental Navy, knowing they were up against the greatest naval power in the world, set sail flying a flag with an “APPEAL TO HEAVEN.” They needed all the help they could get.

Partial excerpt below from:


  The year was 1775 and our country was just about to face their greatest battle on American soil, it was the beginning of the American Revolution. At that time the British (the most powerful military in the world) was occupying Boston and problems in the colonies were rising. George Washington wanted to intercept incoming British ships with supplies, however the popular vote in Philadelphia disagreed with anything to do with upsetting the king, especially after the Boston Tea Party. Our General decided to take it upon himself behind closed doors to commission 6 Privately owned schooners and start his own navy, (rumored to be at his own expense) it was to be called “Washington’s Secret Navy” and all boats were to have “An Appeal to Heaven”  flags upon them. Also known as the “Washington’s cruiser flag”, it was white flag with an evergreen tree in the middle and the words “An Appeal to Heaven” stitched across.

About PINE TREE Flags:

Pine Tree Flags and Naval Ensigns: The term Pine Tree flag is a generic name for a number of flags used by the New England and Massachusetts colonies from 1686 to 1778. It has been the emblem of New England since it was discovered and colonized. The Pine Tree was believed to be originally a symbol used by the Penacook Nation and there is speculation that perhaps this is why it was incorporated in the First New England or First Continental Flag. However it is also likely that the Pine tree represented the extensive forests of straight Pines that existed when the colonists arrived. They made excellent ships masts and was a  valuable resource.

The pine tree was a symbol representing freedom to New Englanders. They often modified existing British flags with pine trees to show they were still loyal to the British Crown, but were going to defend their liberties.

Flag #6)  Commander Washington’s Flag, the personal flag of General George Washington, Revolutionary War

Commander Washington

-Donated by Cindy and Al Romano

There is ongoing research being made about Washington’s Commander in Chief Standard/Flag. It most likely dates back to 1775. Because it was Washington’s personal flag, it was with him wherever he went and saw the same action as he did.  A painting by James Peale (Battle of Princeton) below shows a large blue standard with a linear arrangement of stars.

Battle of Princeton by James Peale painted ca 1782

For more information please see the link below. This data is courtesy of:


Washington and Lafayette see their soldiers’ suffering during the legendary winter at Valley Forge. H.B. Hall/National Archives

According to Dearborn’s History of Salisbury the following Salisbury sons died at Valley Forge:

Ephraim Heath             Valley Forge camp 1778, from exposure and sickness

Reuben Greeley             Valley Forge camp 1778, from exposure and sickness

Philip Lufkin                 Valley Forge camp 1778, from exposure and sickness

William Bayley              Valley Forge camp 1778, from exposure and sickness

Flag #7) First Navy Jack, Flag of the Continental Navy, possibly as early as the Revolutionary War and onwards

“The First Navy Jack” is the current US jack authorized by the United States Navy and is flown from the jackstaff of commissioned vessels of the U.S. Navy while moored pierside or at anchor. The 13 striped design is traditionally regarded as that of the first U.S. naval jack flown in the earliest years of the republic.(From Wikipedia)

-Donated by Sally Jones


 Rte 127 near Rte 4 junction,  West to East,   5 flags on display

FLAG #1) “JOIN OR DIE” or Benjamin Franklin Flag (Wood cut cartoon). French and Indian Wars, pre Revolutionary War

Join or Die

  -Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Zuech

Several early Salisbury citizens were participants in the French and Indian Wars. Notably, Moses Garland was a member of Rogers Rangers. He is buried in the Baptist Graveyard.

Cemetery Walk Reenactor and townsmen, Joseph Schmidl, in character as an early Salisbury settler named Moses Garland of Roger’s Rangers. He was a French and Indian War and Revolutionary War participant. Gravesite: Baptist Cemetery.

Detail of Joseph’s vest: Robert Rogers Rangers Buttons











Photo of a Rogers Rangers reenactment group possible at Port Huron-courtesy Pinterest

A Political Cartoon becomes a Flag. 

Courtesy of the following blog:


Influence of Franklin’s “Join or Die”

In early 1754, Philadelphia printer Benjamin Franklin became one of the earliest political cartoonists in American history. As a printer, Franklin had regularly published political commentaries on various issues. His “Join or Die” publication, however, was quite different and would be remembered for generations to come.

During the early part of 1754, Franklin became quite concerned about the security and future of the British colonies. He believed that each individual colony was going too far in its own direction, and thus neglecting the need for unity. As a result, Franklin created this early political cartoon that served as a call for unity. The cartoon (originally done as a wood carving) was posted not only in Franklin’s paper, but was distributed across the colonies. The snake (each section representing an individual British colony), was purposely cut into pieces, suggesting that death would come not only to the snake, but to the colonies as well if they chose to stay divided. (It is also worth noting that 18th century society believed that a snake would come back to life if the pieces were all put together and buried before sundown).

During the French and Indian War, Franklin’s “Join or Die” slogan was used as a battle cry, inspiring colonies to unite against the French. In the years prior to the American Revolution, Franklin would again use his “Join or Die” logo to promote union with the British (Franklin even suggested to Parliament that the colonies could be joined with Great Britain in the original Acts of Union, which had united Scotland and England). England’s passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 gave Americans a cause to rally around. Naturally, Franklin’s slogan was brought out of the closet, this time to rally against the British.

With the onset of the American Revolution, patriots from across the colonies used Franklin’s “Join or Die” to promote the cause of independence. The slogan could regularly be seen in the windows of shops, on flags, and in newspapers.


For an interesting read on the problem of uniting the colonies during the French and Indian wars



   Flag #2)  Battle of Bennington August 16, 1777, Spirit of 76 (Declaration of Independence), Revolutionary War

#4) Battle of Bennington

The flag above has become the symbol of the Battle of Bennington, Vermont.  We will leave it to the flag scholars to debate which flag was flown at Bennington this or the regimental dark green Green Mountain Boys Flag which certainly has its own questions. On the practical side, dark green fades miserably in the sun and this choice was a favorite of the donor and so we selected this one to be part of the display.  Though it is possible this was a commemorative flag created slightly later, that is of little concern to the many who love this inspiring 76 flag as it says it all. 

 -Donated by Paul and Jeannie Miller

Known participants in the Battle of Bennington:

Baptist Cemetery:  Abraham Fifield, Jonathan Fifield , Joseph Fifield (also Bunker Hill) , Capt. James Johnson, Capt. David Pettengill,  Lieut.David Pettengill

South Road Cemetery:   Moses Fellows (also Bunker Hill),  John Smith

Flag #3) BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL  Red/Pine Tree/Cross, Revolutionary War


#2) Bunker Hill

Commonly used design for the flag of the Battle of Bunker Hill

-Donated by Paul and Penny LaRaia

Flag # 4) Culpepper Minutemen Flag, Revolutionary War

#2) Culpepper Minutemen

Honoring Benjamin Pettengill, who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill and served in the Rhode Island Campaign and who built and resided in the home once occupied by Rick and Karen Sheldon on South Road (route 127).  

A favorite flag of Rick and Karen Sheldon, donors

This flag above represented a group of minutemen from Culpeper, Virginia. These men formed part of Colonel Patrick Henry’s First Virginia Regiment of 1775. Three hundred Culpeper Minutemen led by Colonel Stevens marched toward Williamsburg at the beginning of the fighting. Their unusual dress alarmed the people as they marched through the country. They had bucks’ tails in their hats and tomahawks and scalping knives hung from their belts. Their flag’s central symbol was a coiled rattlesnake about to strike, and below it the words “DON’T TREAD ON ME.” At each side were the words of Patrick Henry “LIBERTY OR DEATH!

Though none of the men from Salisbury served under the Culpepper nor Gadsen flags however they are very recognizable as iconic American Revolution/Freedom Flags and we are pleased to have one. The familiar Revolutionary War yellow Gadsen Flag (not on display in the project)continues to be widely flown today as a symbol of Liberty.

Flag #5) The Betsy Ross or Thirteen Original Colonies Flag, circle format, Revolutionary Ware

#1) 13 Original Colonies, "Betsy Ross"

Original Colonies, “Betsy Ross”

-Sponsored by Anna Kristina Fogelgren, new flag replacement courtesy of Linda and Ed Denoncourt

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress, seeking to promote national pride and unity, adopted the national flag. “Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

When did this Flag first fly in Battle?

According to the website of Fort Ann:    http://www.revolutionaryday.com/usroute4/ftann/default.htm

When advance units of the British forces began moving south in 1777, they encountered significant resistance from about 550 Americans at Fort Ann on July 8th. Although no attempt was actually made to permanently hold the position, there was a two-hour skirmish fought here until it was believed that the advance units were being reinforced. During the skirmish, the British recorded the capture of an American flag with thirteen red and white stripes and a constellation. It is likely that this was the first time the stars and stripes flew in battle.

It is a well known symbol of colonial times.

Flying next to Academy Hall

-Sponsored by Anna Kristina Fogelgren, new flag replacement courtesy of Linda and Ed Denoncourt