A Camp Colour.

By Mark Tully

This interesting flag is in the collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum in New York. It is an 18th-century camp colour from the British 84th Regiment (Royal Highland Emigrants) and is the only surviving example that I know of. The flag offers us some important details in how camp corner flags were made in the period, and how regiments were sometimes forced to improvise.(1)

The Royal Warrant of 1768 specifically states that camp colours be: "Camp Colours : The camp colours to be eighteen inches square, and of the colour of the facing of the regiment, with the number of the regiment upon them. The poles to be seven feet six inches long, except those of the Quarter and rear guards, which are to be nine feet." The Warrant doesn't specify as to how the number of the regiment is to be rendered, but it does go into more detail regarding the regimental colours: "In the center of each colour is to be painted, or embroidered, in gold Roman characters, the number of the rank of the regiment, within the wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk; except those regiments which are allowed to wear any royal devices, or ancient badges; on whose colours the rank of the regiment is to be painted, or embroidered, towards the upper corner."(2)

The camp colour shown here is 14 inches tall and 18 inches "on the fly." It is said to have been pieced together from blue wool--possibly scraps leftover from making the regimental coats or winter leggings.(3) It appears, however, to be made of a single piece of wool that was folded, as the flag is hemmed along three sides. Camp colours were more typically made of silk in the period,(4) and it is hard to imagine that this flag would have flown very well being made from the heavier wool.

There appears to be a sleeve to accept a pole running up the left side of the flag, and the three tears along the left edge of the fabric seem to indicate it was once tacked to its pole.

The foliated "GR" and crown design is typical of the period, and is rather crudely painted on in red. The Royal Warrant specifies that the regimental number be placed on the corner markers, yet this flag features the designation "Roy.l Emigrants" instead.

This camp colour is an interesting example of how regiments didn't always strictly adhere to the Warrant, and were sometimes forced to improvise, using materials they on hand.

1) For more on this flag, see the article by William L. Calver in, The Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, Volume I, No. 4, July 1928, pp 1-5.
2) The Royal Warrant, (WO30/13B)
3) Blue wool was also shipped to the British regiments serving in America for making leggings. See The NWTA Courier, Volume XX, January/February, 1996.
4) WO/29/29/468