Guidon of the Second Regiment Light Dragoons

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 11/30/2010

This artifact is one of three known surviving components of a suite of four, and possibly five, colors carried by the Second Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons during the Revolutionary War. Although no definitive order has survived specifying the number of colors to be carried by a regiment of Continental Light Dragoons--nor for that matter respecting the colors to be carried by a regiment of Continental infantry--research into the subject of Continental regimental colors indicates that at least two and as many as five colors were considered appropriate for each infantry or cavalry regiment. 

Other surviving regimental colors of the Second Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons are: 1. National Standard, captured by Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, July 2, 1779, at Bedford and Pound Ridge, Westchester County, New York. Sold at auction June 14, 2006, by Sotheby's New York, to undisclosed individual in the United States. 2. Blue or Regimental Standard, owned by the Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut.

This guidon was referenced in the Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadgepublished by the Society of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York in 1904. This "pink" standard was known to be in the possession of Mr. F. E. Harper of New York City (reference from Gherardi Davis,Regimental Colors in the War of the Revolution [1907]).

The guidon was later referenced in American and French Flags of the Revolution 1775-1783, by F. E. Shermerhorn (1948) as having been owned by Senator Morgan G. Bulkeley, but "in some curious fashion, never explained, this flag disappeared and its whereabouts is not known...."

The artifact was donated to the Smithsonian in 1968 by the Estate of Emily Howell Wilkins, daughter of Emily Howell, who was the daughter of Mary Tallmadge of New York City. Research as to family lineage has not been completed.

General History
The Second Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons, also known as Tallmadge's Dragoons, was named for Major Benjamin Tallmadge. Commissioned on June 20, 1776, he was eventually promoted to the rank of colonel, and became the chief intelligence officer for George Washington. 

He organized the "Culper" spy ring on Long Island and in New York City in 1778 when asked by General George Washington. The city was then occupied by a strong British force under the command of General Sir Henry Clinton. Members of the Culper network also kept Clinton's headquarters under constant surveillance and were able to report to Tallmadge any loyalists posing as patriots who visited the British commander. In 1780, the network's information saved a French army marching to Washington's aid.

Physical Description
Pink silk with oil paint. The canton consists of seven silver and six pink stripes. The center of the guidon is a painted badge of a winged and fulminating thundercloud with ten gold-colored thunderbolts emanating like rays of the sun. Under the badge is a silver scroll with the motto "PATa CONCITa FULMnt NATI"; a rough translation is: "The fatherland/country calls/expects its sons to respond with/in tones of thunder."

Specific History
Squadron Guidon or Color, Second Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons, also known as Tallmadge's Dragoons.

Instructional Strategies