Manchester flag could fetch $3M
By Arianna MacNeill Staff Writer
MANCHESTER — It was nearly 21/2 centuries ago that the Manchester Company of the Essex County Militia took off for the Lexington Alarm, the first Revolutionary War battle, on April 19, 1775.
As they marched, the minutemen carried a 60-by-63-inch red flag with 13 ivory stripes affixed to its top left corner, seven on one side and six on the other, representing the 13 United Colonies.
The men who marched that day never saw battle, since the alarm ended before they reached Lexington, and are long gone. But that bright red silk flag they carried, now called the Forster Flag, still exists.
The Forster Flag, said to be the earliest existing flag designed to represent the 13 original colonies, is up for auction Wednesday through Doyle New York, an auction and appraising company in New York City.
But what does it cost to own this iconic piece of American history? A whopping $1 million to $3 million, according to Doyle.
Named after Samuel Forster, a second lieutenant for the Manchester Company, flags were crucial for battle during the revolution, Huss said. If a soldier became separated from his group, he could look for the flag to find his way back, Huss said. This explains why the flag is around 5 feet long.
“It was something that was critical,” Huss said. “That’s where ‘Rally around the flag’ comes from.”
The flag remained in Manchester’s Forster family for two centuries until it was sold to the Flag Heritage Foundation in 1975. For a time, Huss said the flag was draped over a captured British drum at the Massachusetts Statehouse.