A brief history of the Bennington flag

In the spirit of ‘76

Bennington Historic American Flag

The history of the Bennington flag is widely debated — some reports claim that it was carried by Nathaniel Fillmore at the Battle of Bennington (which actually took place between Waloomsac and North Hoosick, New York). This is where the flag’s name is derived. Conversely, there are those who believe that the flag could not have been constructed until at least a quarter century after the American Revolution and think, therefore, that the Bennington Flag was crafted as a centennial or commemorative item in the last half of the 1800s.

Whatever the case may be, there are a set of features and facts about the Bennington flag that are indisputable. Here are seven such facts. . .

Seven Bennington flag facts

  1. Though the date of origin is still in question, it is known that the Bennington flag was passed down through the Fillmore family, and is sometimes referred to as the Fillmore flag.
  2. Typical of Revolution era flags, the Bennington flag features 13 stars and 13 stripes to symbolize the 13 American colonies in rebellion against Great Britain.
  3. The Bennington flag features a large “76” in the canton, recalling the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed, 1776.
  4. In contrast to most iterations of the American flag, the stripes are arranged so that the white stripes are the outermost (instead of the red).
  5. The blue canton is also taller than that of other American flags, spanning nine stripes instead of the usual seven.
  6. The stars on most American flags have five points, whereas the stars on the Bennington flag have seven points each.
  7. As of this writing, we have uncovered no evidence of any significant meaning to having two stars separated from and positioned above the semicircle. Like most flags of the time, the Bennington flag was entirely hand-sewn, and the separation was probably a function of visual design and the practical application of including all 13 stars.

The Bennington flag is one of the more popular historic American flags, and you can order your replica here!

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  • Savannah Hanna

    This is wonderful. Thanks so much. I had to use this for a history project. Thank you so much for this explanation of the Bennington Flag. I am only a humble 6th grader in need for a history project to actually show.
  • Charlotte

    Thomas – this resource at the Smithsonian Institute is packed with 13-star pattern information: https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/2420/SSHT-0021_Lo_res.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
    The document does not specifically address the reason for placement of the 2 stars and we are unable to locate an official document that does. Thank you!

  • RobertR

    What isthe proper was to display the Bennington flag when displayed vertically? Current flag ediquet is for the stars tobe on the flags right, but this would putthe 76 in reverse on the Benninton flag.

  • Thomas Miller

    Does anyone have an official explanation for the placement of two stars above the open circle? Thanks!!!

  • Amy

    Thank you so much for this explanation of the Bennington Flag. I have a banner that features 4 historic versions of our flag, and I’d always assumed the “76” flag was designed for the bi-centennial…I was surprised to find out it’s real history. And, on a personal note, my mother was born in Bennington, Vermont, so now this flag has a very special meaning to me.

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