FLAG, a popular name for many endogenous plants with sword-shaped leaves, mostly growing in moist situations. It is sometimes particularty appropriated to the species of iris (q v.) or flower-de-luce; but is given also very indiscriminately to other plants of similar foliage, as the acorns calamus (see ACoaus), which is called sweet flag.
FLAG (common to the Teutonic languages, and derived from a root signifying to fly), a cloth of light material, capable of being extended by the wind, and desimied to make known some fact or want to spectators. In the army, a F. is the ensign carried as its distinguishing mark by each regiment; and also a small banner, with which the ground to be occupied is marked out. In the navy, the F. is of more importance, often constituting the only means vessels have of communicating with each other, or with the shore. For this purpose, devices of conspicuous colors (usually black, white, red, yellow, or blue) are hoisted at the mast-head or at the gaff. The, flags having three forms, a very few patterns in each shape give sufficient combinations of three or four flags to express any letter or word in the language. The F. is also a sign of the rank of the principal person on board a vessel, as the "royal standard," containing the arms of the United Kingdom, which. is only hoisted when a member of the royal family is on board; the anchor of hope, on a red ground, denoting the admiralty; the pennant, which. speciEes the ship of war; and the ensign, which denotes the nation.
A white F. is accepted throughout the whole world as a token of peace; a red F., as defiance; and a black F. denotes a pirate; a F. of plain yellow usually signifies that the vessel bearing it is in quarantine. See also UNION JACK.
FLAG (ante). The U. S. standard is briefly noticed under American flags, but a more extended account of that and other flags is required. Naturally the regular English flag was used by the colonies in their early days, and that was commonly the cross of St. George. The Puritan spirit was shown when Endicott, the governor of Massachusetts, cut the cross from the flag because it was a Romanist emblem. The colonial flags varied in color, it being sufficient if ground and cross differed. Now and then a pine-tree was figured in the upper left-hand quarter of the cross, and one flag had only the tree for a symbol. When sir Edmund Andros was governor he established a special. flag for New England, a white field with a St. George cross, and in the center "J. R.," Jacobus Rex (James, King), surmounted by a crown. The revolution brought in all manner of devices for flags and banners, the larger portion bearing mottoes more or less defiant of the foreign government. Soon after the fight at Lexington the volunteers from Connecticut put on their flag the arms of the colony. with the legend " Qui transtulit sustinet" (He who brought us over will sustain us). The colonial flag of New Amsterdam (substantially the present arms of New York city) was carried by armed vessels sailing out of New York—a beaver being the principal figure, indicative of both the industry of the Dutch people and the wealth of the fur trade. The day after the battle of Bunker Hill, Putnam displayed a flag with a red ground, having on one side the Connecticut motto, and on the other the words "An Appeal to•eaven." The earliest vessels sailing under Wash
ington's authority displayed the pine-tree flag. An early flag in the southern states was designed by col.loultrie and displayed at Charleston in Sept., 1775. It was blue with a white crescent. iu the upper corner next the staff; afterwards the word " Liberty" was added. At Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 2, 1776, Washington displayed the original of the present United States flag, consisting of 13 stripes of tett and white, with a St. Andrew :Toss in place of the stars. The rattlesnake flag was used to some extent in two forms: ba one the snake was intact, and under the figure the words " Don't tread on me;" in the other form the snake was iu 13 pieces, and the legend was "Join or Die ;" and iu some eases the snake had 13 rattles. Ten days after the declaration of independence, congress greeted the stile of the flag of the United States, as heretofore described, with its later modifications. By the war department the stars in the union are usually so placed as to form one large star. In the navy the stars are in straight lines, perpendicular and horizon tal. The estates now in the union make five horizontal lines of eight stars, with two vacancies at the right-hand end of the middle rows. The union jack is a blue ground with all the stars hut no stripes. During the war of the rebellion the seceding states had a number of distinct flags. Early in 1861, however, their comrress decided upon what was popularly called the " Stars and Bars," which was composed of three broad horizontal bars, the two outer ones red and the middle one white, with a blue "union" contain ing nine stars in a circle. Some variations were afterwards made, but they need not be noticed. There are many flags Which designate special or personal position or authority. Among such are royal standards, flag-officers' flags, etc. An admiral's flag is usually the flag of the country which such admiral serves, with the exception of the "union. The of admirals, yiee-admirala, and rear-admirals of the United States is rectangular, and consists of thirteen alternate red and white stripes. The admiral hoists this at the main; the vice-admiral at the fore; the rear-admiral at the mizzen. Should there be two rear-admirals present, the junior hoists at the mizzen a flag similar to the one described, with the additien of two stars in the left-hand corner. The com modore's flag differs from that of the admiral's in form alone, being swallow-tail instead of rectangular. Should the president go afloat, the American flag is carried in the bow of his barge or hoisted at the main of the vessel on board of which he may be. In foreign countries the royal standard is displayed at ceremonies in honor of the sovereign or at which the sovereign may be present. A flag placed midway on the staff, or "half-mast," is a sign of mourning. A flag reversed or upside down indicates distress. Salutes are made by dipping the flag by hauling it down a short distance and immedi ately raising it several times in succession.