The Serapis Flag
The Serapis Flag was an early American naval ensign flown from the captured British warship Serapis during the American War of Independence.
John Paul Jones was a captain in the young American navy during the founding of the republic. His daring attacks on British shipping quickly became legendary on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 1779, during the Battle of Flamborough Head off the northern coast of England, John Paul Jones led a squadron of four ships against a British merchant convoy, including two warships. Jones’ ship, the Bonhomme Richard engaged the British warship Serapis, and after exchanging broadsides, Jones managed to lock the two ships together.
The Bonhomme Richard was severely damaged and taking on water. When the British captain asked the Americans to surrender their sinking ship, John Paul Jones stepped into legend. He shouted words to the effect of “I have not yet begun to fight!”
The battle lasted over three hours and at several points became very confused. Both ships were burning and badly damaged, and both captains had been presumed dead at least once during the battle. The flag on the Bonhomme Richard had been shot away and was lost to the sea. The Americans in the rigging slowly managed to clear the decks of the Serapis using accurate small arms fire and grenades, and the sailors repulsed several boarding actions.
It became clear that the Americans would not surrender, so the British captain decided the best course of action was to give up his ship. John Paul Jones and the crews of his squadron had won. Attempts to save the sinking Bonhomme Richard were unsuccessful, so the crew transferred to the Serapis. Lacking a flag, a new ensign was quickly made once the ship arrived in a friendly Dutch port. The flag was made from the description of the American flag written by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams,
“It is with pleasure that we acquaint your excellency that the flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen stripes, alternately red, white, and blue; a small square in the upper angle, next to the flagstaff, is a blue field, with thirteen white stars, denoting a new constellation.”
To many of the people of Europe, the Serapis flag was the first American flag to be seen.
Quotes from John Paul Jones
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way.”
“It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win.”
“If fear is cultivated it will become stronger, if faith is cultivated it will achieve mastery.”
- Hook Backing
- Release: 09/22/2022