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History/About -> Flag History

Each flag flown during the Revolutionary war had deep significance. Here you can get a brief history of each of the flags by selecting it below


The Colonial Navy of Massachusetts

The Colonial Navy of Massachusetts, the states Revolutionary War naval militia, came into being December 29, 1775. The Massachusetts state navy was founded through early legislation to defend the shores against the marauding British gunboats. It was one of eleven such state units founded in those turbulent war years. Of the 13 original colonies, only New Jersey and Delaware did not have navies. The Massachusetts Navy at one time had 698 ships in it's fleet and fought heroic battles as far away as the coast of Spain. It was amalgamated into the Colonial Navy founded by General George Washington.

The present day Colonial Navy of Massachusetts unit was activated in 1967 by an act of the Massachusetts legislature to continue the heritage of the old revolutionary war unit. The legislation officially recognizes the unit calling it the Colonial Navy of Massachusetts in a bill signed by the then governor John A. Volpe. This authorized the unit to wear the distinctive green and white uniforms that the 1775 Massachusetts Council had designated, and to carry the official state navy jack, and the Massachusetts designated Pine Tree flag. The unit was ordered based in Fall River. The colorful dress uniforms are historically accurate reproductions based on navy uniforms in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

The enlisted man's dress is equally authentic. It includes the traditional black tarred hat with ribbons, red striped crewneck jersey, white pantaloons, and black neckerchief. From a wide black baldric hangs a hefty straight-bladed cutlass used by boarding parties in sea encounters nearly two centuries ago. From the tar's hips swings the pewter tankard which sailors once used as a mess kit and which were valued aboard ship above all other possessions.

Members of the Navy are from all walks of life, a true cross-section of the community. The present company consists of the Officers Corps, a color guard, a contingent of John Paul Jones Marines outstanding in their authentic red and white uniforms carrying muskets, and a fife and drum unit that provides all field music for parades and ceremonies.

Why the detail in uniform? The purpose of the unit is to teach history, and members are dedicated to the principle. They do so by appearing in parades and performing in concert. In addition to the fife and drum music, the men sing sea chanties during any parade break and are always greeted with a rousing ovation. The concert format, in addition to the music, includes uniform descriptions and interesting anecdotes related to the Revolutionary War era.

The Colonial Navy has appeared in both parade and concert throughout the United States and in several countries abroad.

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