2nd Continental Light Dragoons
The 2nd Continental Light Dragoon Regiment was, however, what we would call today ‘special forces’ that were very formidable and effective in their service. In fact, studying their history, one easily puts aside the notion that these Americans were amateurs of any kind. The Dragoons’ elite roles ranged from cavalry to executive protection to raiders to spies to message handlers – they were trusted, serious soldiers made up of the finest men from several of the colonial states at the time. Authorized by Congress at General Washington’s request in late 1776, the Regiment's commander, Elisha Sheldon, was given instructions by Washington to select “gentlemen of the finest spirits and of good character”. Only the best would do and only the best did they do in their service to our young country.
It is little wonder then that the colors they bore still survive today – a testament to their longstanding commitment to the cause of liberty and to their loyalty to their extraordinary tasks. The flag is made of fine silk in alternating red and white stripes totaling 13 to represent the colonies. Given the creation date of the Regiment, the striped colonial pattern would be well expected and a nod to the standard of the national flag which Congress created in June of 1777 making its creation sometime between 1777 and July of 1779 before it was captured by British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Pound Ridge, New York.
Make no mistake, the capture of the flag served only to preserve it for us today, the Regiment itself was not captured. These elite forces were never fully dispatched en masse and thus never defeated as a full Regiment. The various roles described above had them attending to special assignments in multiple locations and attachments; they were always at serious work all over the eastern seaboard. Nevertheless, Tarleton was able to gain some notoriety in taking the colors from the Dragoons as a result of the battle. Branded the “Watchdogs of the Highlands” the Dragoons had been engaged in harassment efforts of the Loyalists in the area and Tarleton was specifically sent to put a stop to them. His capture of this ornate standard was a mark of immense British pride and holding on to the flag for show and tell was a huge reason to ensure it was preserved. It is one of the few surviving flags of the Revolutionary War today and sold at auction by a Tarleton heir to an anonymous American for over $12 million dollars on Flag Day, June 14th, 2006. That was more than the cost of the entire Revolutionary War.
The flag bears a unique, rectangular centerpiece among its field of red and white stripes which fit the Regiment's unique purpose. Inside the rectangle is a circular black thundercloud held up by two silver wings from which emanate ten gold and orange thunderbolts. The design is thought to hearken from Greek coins evoking the imagery of the god of Zeus. This winged delivery of lightning bolts carried through to Roman times and into French cavalry from where the Americans likely borrowed. This image is fitting for the abbreviated, Latin motto under it which translates along the lines of “When their country calls, her sons answer in tones of thunder.” The God of Nature brought the lightening and the men the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons followed with precise, disciplined thunder.
Our 2nd Continental Light Dragoon flag patch is truly a fantastic addition to our array of unique and inspiring flags of the Revolutionary War. We are proud to be able to offer it to you in such a fine replication and have it adorn your own collection.
- This historic patch was built using this photo
- Hook Backing
- Release: 11/12/2020