The Serapis Battle Flag has a storied and confusing history. There are several versions of events that occurred before and after the Battle of Flamborough Head on 23 September 1779, but we will recount the most likely version.
As the story goes, Commodore John Paul Jones was in Paris visiting the American ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had been queried for a description of the American flag from French and Dutch officials so they could inform their ships at sea what to look for. Franklin drew a sketch for the officials, and had a flag made, which he gave to Jones. Jones then flew this flag from his flagship, the USS Bonhomme Richard.
On patrol in the North Sea on 23 September 1779 Commodore Jones in the Bonhomme Richard engaged the 44 gun British frigate, HMS Serapis. During the fierce battle, the Richard and Serapis became entangled side to side and proceeded to blast holes in each other, one shot blowing the main mast and flag from the Richard into the water. Several shots also hit the Richard below the waterline and she rapidly began taking on water. When CAPT Pearson of the Serapis asked Jones if he was ready to surrender, Jones replied: " I have not yet begun to fight!" Jones had positioned several of his men in the crow's nests of the remaining masts, where they pounded the crew of the Serapis with small arms fire and incendiary grenades. Using several small 9 pound guns, Jones continues the assault on the enemy crew using grapeshot--making mince meat of the British sailors. When all was said and done, Jones captured the Serapis and sailed her into the Dutch port of Texel to make much-needed repairs. While in port the British ambassador accused Jones of being a pirate and called for his arrest because he was not flying colors on the Serapis--as he was not flying the flag of any known nation and he was sailing a captured ship, he was, according to international law, a pirate! With the help of Benjamin Franklin, they quickly had another flag made and had it entered into the Dutch flag register.
Designed as a battle flag and following the current military convention of wearing the colors on the right shoulder, the reverse side of the historic Serapis Battle Flag has been faithfully recreated on this patch.
- ~2.7"x 2"
- 100% Embroidered
- Velcro Backed