On the first of January, 1776, the new Continental Army was organized, and on that day the Union flag of thirteen stripes was unfurled for the first time in the American camp, Somerville, Mass. On that day the king's speech was received in Boston, and copies of it were sent to Washington, who, in a letter to Joseph Reed, written January 4, 1776, said: “The speech I send you. A volume of them were sent out by the Boston gentry, and farcical enough, we gave great joy to them without knowing or intending it, for on that day, the day which gave being to the new army, but before the proclamation came to hand, we had hoisted the Union flag, in compliment to the United Colonies. But behold, it was received in Boston as a token of the deep impression the speech had made upon us, and as a signal of submission. So we hear by a person out of Boston last night. By this time I presume they begin to think it strange that we have not made a formal surrender of our lines.” The flag bore the device of the English Union, which is composed of the cross of St. George, to denote England, and St. Andrew's cross, in the form of an X, to denote Scotland. It must be remembered that at this time the American Congress had not declared their independence, and that even yet the Americans proffered their warmest loyalty to British justice, when it should redress their grievances.
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