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U.S. Army Center of Military History

West Point Museum exhibits trophy flags
presented to Gen. George Washington

King's Color of the British Seventh Regiment of Foot

King's Color of the British Seventh Regiment of Foot (Photo courtesy West Point Museum Collection/all rights reserved)

WEST POINT, N.Y. (October 19, 2015) - Congress, in grateful recognition of the invaluable services of General Washington during the American Revolution, presented him with the first British flag captured in 1775 and one of the last surrendered flags from Yorktown in 1781. These flags descended to Washington's step-grandson and adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis.

Custis, the father-in-law of Robert E. Lee, maintained the flags and other relics of his stepfather in his estate in Arlington, Virginia. Custis called the flags the "Alpha and Omega" of the war. One, the King's Color of the British Seventh Regiment of Foot, was taken at Chambly in Canada in October of 1775, and was the first enemy flag captured by the US Army. The other, a flag of a German battalion in service of the British, was surrendered in October of 1781, at Yorktown, Virginia, the climatic American victory.

In 1858, concerned for the ultimate preservation of these relics, Custis gave them to the War Department (now the Department of Defense). In accordance with a previous Act of Congress the flags were brought to West Point, the designated depository for trophies of war and have remained here as two of the most important national historic treasures. Although displayed for years in previous sites of the West Point Museum they have been on display only once before in Olmstead Hall - during the 2004 bicentennial exhibition in commemoration of the opening of the West Point Museum to the public in 1854.

To better protect and preserve the "Alpha and Omega" they will be on display for only two years before being returned to "rest" until their next exhibition. All are invited to view these important relics before the closing of the exhibit in 2017. Also on display in the Flag gallery of the Museum are works of art from the American Revolution drawn from the extensive and priceless art collection of the West Point Museum.

The West Point Museum is open at no charge, seven days a week, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. The Museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. For more information call 845-938-3590 or visit the Museum on Facebook.