The origin of this flag’s design can be traced to the beginning of 1776 in the vicinity of Boston. Thompson’s Rifle Battalion, which later became the First Continental Regiment of the Continental Army, was reorganized on 1 January 1776. This unit, which had been raised in Pennsylvania in June of 1775, served with the Army during the siege of Boston from the summer of 1775 until mid-March of 1776 when it marched with the army to New York in pursuit of the British.
On 20 February 1776, general orders were issued by Washington from his headquarters at Cambridge that every Regiment should be furnished with Colours, and that those Colours should, if it can be done, bear some kind of similitude to the Uniform of the regiment to which they belong, the Colonels with their respective Brigadiers and the Qr. Mr. Genl. May fix upon such as are proper, and can be procures…. The Number of the Regiment is to be mark’d on the Colours, and such a Motto, as the Colonel may choose, in fixing upon which, the General advises a Consultation amongst them.1