James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

June 14

Betsy’s Battle Flag

By Minna Irving

  • The United States flag was formally adopted by Congress, June 14, 1777. The first flag was made by Betsy Ross and presented by her to General Washington.

  • FROM dusk till dawn the livelong night

    She kept the tallow dips alight,

    And fast her nimble fingers flew

    To sew the stars upon the blue.

    With weary eyes and aching head

    She stitched the stripes of white and red,

    And when the day came up the stair

    Complete across a carven chair

    Hung Betsy’s battle flag.

    Like shadows in the evening gray

    The Continentals filed away,

    With broken boots and ragged coats,

    But hoarse defiance in their throats;

    They bore the marks of want and cold,

    And some were lame and some were old,

    And some with wounds untended bled,

    But floating bravely overhead

    Was Betsy’s battle flag.

    When fell the battle’s leaden rain,

    The soldier hushed his moans of pain

    And raised his dying head to see

    King George’s troopers turn and flee.

    Their charging column reeled and broke,

    And vanished in the rolling smoke,

    Before the glory of the stars,

    The snowy stripes, and scarlet bars

    Of Betsy’s battle flag.

    The simple stone of Betsy Ross

    Is covered now with mold and moss,

    But still her deathless banner flies,

    And keeps the color of the skies.

    A nation thrills, a nation bleeds,

    A nation follows where it leads,

    And every man is proud to yield

    His life upon a crimson field

    For Betsy’s battle flag!