Rare 'Grand Division' Color of the Eighth Virginia Regiment
Comprised of two lengths of salmon plain weave silk, hand-painted with a white scrolling ribbon-shaped cartouche retaining traces of the inscription, "VIII. Virg(a). Reg(t)" in black and blue, the verso with an enhanced cartouche and inscription, fold back hoist sleeve and self-fringed fly end, framed.
Including fringe: 41 1/4 in. (hoist) x 45 in. (fly)
The Eighth Virginia Regimental flag descended in the family of the Regiment's original commander, Colonel Peter Muhlenberg (1746-1807), the legendary "Fighting Parson."
The flag is cited in the 1849 biography, The Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army by descendant Henry Augustus Muhlenberg, published by Carey & Hart, Philadelphia, pp. 338-339: "The Eighth Virginia Regiment was generally known as the 'German Regiment.' By that name it is designated in the Orderly books of Generals Washington and Muhlenberg during the campaigns of 1777, 1778 and 1779....The regimental colour of this corps is still in the writer's possession. It is made of plain salmon-coloured silk, with a broad fringe of the same, having a simple white scroll in the centre, upon which are inscribed the words, "VIII Virg(a) Reg(t)"
Henry Augustus Muhlenberg (1823-1854) was the son of Henry Augustus Philip Muhlenberg (1782-1844) and grandson of Henry Muhlenberg Jr. (1753-1815), General Peter's brother. In preparation for writing his biography of General Muhlenberg, Henry Augustus Muhlenberg (who lived in Reading, Berks County) visited many other descendants and likely obtained the flag from one of them. One possible source was Sarah Coleman Muhlenberg, widow of Peter Muhlenberg Jr. (1787-1844), who lived in Reading until her death in 1860. Like his father, Peter Jr. pursued a military career and was an army captain during the War of 1812. When General Peter died in 1807, he bequeathed his brass-barreled pistols and gold watch marked "P.M" to Peter Jr. This son would be a likely candidate to have received the flag along with these other military-related items from General Muhlenberg.
After the flag was obtained by Henry Augustus Muhlenberg, it then descended in his branch of the family.
Literature: Minardi, Lisa. Pastors and Patriots: The Muhlenberg Family of Pennsylvania,Collegeville, Pennsylvania: The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College and The Pennsylvania German Society, 2011, pg. 41.
Muhlenberg, Henry Augustus. Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg, 1848, pp. 338-339.
Richardson, Edward W. Standards and Colors of the American Revolution Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982, pg. 137 (plate 45).
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Sold for $422,500 (buyer's premium included)