* * * THE CULPEPER MINUTE MEN FLAG IS THE OFFICIAL BATTLE FLAG * * *
* * * THE PATRICK HENRY CAUCUS * * *
The Spirit of the American Revolution lives and breathes within this hallowed emblem of the 1775 Culpeper Minute Men. Inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s “JOIN, or DIE” woodcut, this special edition linocut was commissioned by the founders of the Patrick Henry Caucus and is a historically accurate representation of The Culpeper Minute Men flag.
Hand-printed, using hand-carved printing blocks, these black ink on white canvass banners are one-of-a-kind, collector’s quality artwork. No two flags are the same. Each creation has been carefully and uniquely hand-numbered on the flag’s front hoist side reinforcement, proximal to the downside grommet. The corresponding series mark is found on a Certificate of Authenticity to be given to the donor.
On 17 July 1775, the Culpeper Minute Men gathered under a large oak tree in Clayton’s Old Field located on the Catalpa Estate in southwest Virginia. This muster of Culpeper citizen militia received its first orders from Colonel Patrick Henry.
Just months earlier, on 23 March 1775, Patrick Henry as a delegate to the Virginia Convention delivered a stirring address in the House of Burgesses . . . give me Liberty or give me Death! The spirit of Patrick Henry’s immortal maxim is indelibly printed on the flanks of the flag’s central horizontal field- “LIBERTY… OR DEATH”.
The principal graphic feature positioned in the flag’s central field is the Timber Rattlesnake. This conspicuous Serpent is native to the Colonial region of the U.S.– more specifically, Virginia. Published in the Pennsylvania Journal in December of 1775, Benjamin Franklin expounded on the appropriateness of the use of the Rattlesnake as a symbol of American vigilance with its companion motto, “DON’T TREAD ON ME”. Said he:
“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids– She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. –She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. –As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:–Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned them against the danger of treading on her. –Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?”(Pennsylvania Journal, Dec. 27, 1775 italics added.)
An emblem of Liberty and Virtue: The Culpeper Minute Men flag.