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    Revolutionary war flags to be auctioned

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    Thought this might of interest to you guys. I hope they end up in a museum, they're surely of national historical importance.

    Americans to pay millions to recapture battle flags

    By Will Bennett

    (Filed: 22/11/2005)

    Four rare battle flags captured during the American War of Independence by a British officer have been returned after more than two centuries to be auctioned.

    The regimental colours seized in 1779 and 1780 by Lt Col Banastre Tarleton, who remains one of the conflict's most controversial figures, have already aroused huge interest among American military historians. They are expected to fetch between ?2.3 million and ?5.8 million at Sotheby's in New York next year.

    The colours of Col Buford's crushed Virginia troops

    Until recently the flags had hung in the Hampshire home of Capt Christopher Tarleton Fagan, the great-great-great-great nephew of the lieutenant colonel.

    Capt Tarleton Fagan, a former Grenadier Guards officer, said: "I am very sad to sell them. They are an important part of our family history and we have had them for 225 years. However, there comes a time when their value is such that one can no longer afford to insure them."

    Only about 30 American revolutionary battle flags have survived, all of which, apart from the ones to be sold at Sotheby's, are in museums and in most cases only fragments remain. The ones captured by Tarleton are in excellent condition and their history is well documented. One is the flag of the 2nd Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons, raised in Connecticut by Col Elisha Sheldon, who were defeated by Tarleton in Westchester County, New York in July 1779. The other three flags were seized the following year in a still controversial battle in the southern United States.

    Col Sheldon's Connecticut dragoons fell to Tarleton in 1779

    Tarleton crushed a Virginian regiment under Col Abraham Buford at Waxsaws near the border of North and South Carolina. Accounts of what happened next differ. According to the Americans, Tarleton ordered his men to slaughter more than 100 revolutionary soldiers who had already surrendered. But the British officer maintained that his horse was shot after a truce was declared and pinned him to the ground.

    "His troops thought he had been killed and the loyalists among them ran amok," said Capt Tarleton Fagan.

    The killing of the Virginian troops led to Tarleton being called "Bloody Ban". The Americans also coined the phrase "Tarleton's quarter", which meant that no prisoners were taken.

    After the war ended Tarleton took the four battle flags back to England. Buford's main flag, made of gold silk, has a painted image of a beaver gnawing a palmetto tree, while the two smaller, plainer ones would have been battalion standards known as ground colours.

    While Tarleton was reviled by his enemies, the British public proclaimed him a hero. He was immortalised in a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds which depicts the captured American flags lying at his feet.

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