Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: The Star Spangled Banner

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According to American History, the Star Spangled Banner, which led to the anthem of the same name, was raised over Fort Henry in Baltimore on the 14th September 1814. This was done to celebrate a crucial victory over the British during the war of 1812-1815.

It is said that the sight of those Broad stripes and bright stars inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song, which is proudly sung by Americans to this day as their national anthem.

About the War of 1812, amhistory.si.edu, goes on to state:

Although its events inspired one of the nation’s most famous patriotic songs, the War of 1812 is a relatively little-known war in American history. Despite its complicated causes and inconclusive outcome, the conflict helped establish the credibility of the young United States among other nations. It fostered a strong sense of national pride among the American people, and those patriotic feelings are reflected and preserved in the song we know today as the U.S. national anthem.

Britain’s defeat at the 1781 Battle of Yorktown marked the conclusion of the American Revolution and the beginning of new challenges for a new nation. Not even three decades after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which formalized Britain’s recognition of the United States of America, the two countries were again in conflict. Resentment for Britain’s interference with American international trade, combined with American expansionist visions, led Congress to declare war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812.

In the early stages of the war, the American navy scored victories in the Atlantic and on Lake Erie while Britain concentrated its military efforts on its ongoing war with France. But with the defeat of Emperor Napoléon’s armies in April 1814, Britain turned its full attention to the war against an ill-prepared United States.

Angered by British interference with American trade, the young United States was intent on reaffirming its recently won independence. Instead, a series of defeats left Americans anxious and demoralized. They were stunned when, on August 24, 1814, British troops marched into Washington, D.C., and set the Capitol building and White House ablaze.

America’s future seemed more uncertain than ever as the British set their sights on Baltimore, Maryland, a vital seaport. On September 13, 1814, British warships began firing bombs and rockets on Fort McHenry, which protected the city’s harbour. The bombardment continued for twenty-five hours while the nation awaited news of Baltimore’s fate.

By the “dawn’s early light” of September 14, 1814, Francis Scott Key, who was aboard a ship several miles distant, could just make out an American flag waving above Fort McHenry. British ships were withdrawing from Baltimore, and Key realized that the United States had survived the battle and stopped the enemy advance. Moved by the sight, he wrote a song celebrating “that star-spangled banner” as a symbol of America’s triumph and endurance.

Making the Flag

In the summer of 1813, Mary Pickersgill (1776–1857) was contracted to sew two flags for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. The one that became the Star-Spangled Banner was a 30 x 42–foot garrison flag; the other was a 17 x 25–foot storm flag for use in inclement weather.

Pickersgill, a thirty-seven-year-old widow, was an experienced maker of ships’ colours and signal flags. She filled orders for many of the military and merchant ships that sailed into Baltimore’s busy port.

Helping Pickersgill make the flags were her thirteen-year-old daughter Caroline; nieces Eliza Young (thirteen) and Margaret Young (fifteen); and a thirteen-year-old African American indentured servant, Grace Wisher. Pickersgill’s elderly mother, Rebecca Young, from whom she had learned flagmaking, may have helped as well.

Pickersgill and her assistants spent about seven weeks making the two flags. They assembled the blue canton and the red and white stripes of the flag by piecing together strips of loosely woven English wool bunting that were only 12 or 18 inches wide.

Family Keepsake and National Treasure

While Francis Scott Key’s song was known to most Americans by the end of the Civil War, the flag that inspired it remained an Armistead family keepsake.

It was exhibited occasionally at patriotic gatherings in Baltimore but largely unknown outside of that city until the 1870s. The flag remained the private property of Lieutenant Colonel Armistead’s widow, Louisa Armistead, his daughter Georgiana Armistead Appleton, and his grandson Eben Appleton for 90 years. During that time, the increasing popularity of Key’s anthem and the American public’s developing sense of national heritage transformed the Star-Spangled Banner from a family keepsake into a national treasure.

New York stockbroker Eben Appleton inherited the Star-Spangled Banner upon his mother’s death in 1878. The publicity that it had received in the 1870s had transformed it into a national treasure, and Appleton received many requests to lend it for patriotic occasions. He permitted it to go to Baltimore for that city’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1880. After that his concern for the flag’s deteriorating condition led him to keep it in a safe-deposit vault in New York. In 1907 he lent the Star-Spangled Banner to the Smithsonian Institution, and in 1912 he converted the loan to a gift.

Appleton donated the flag with the wish that it would always be on view to the public. Museums constantly balance the desire to display an object with the need to protect it from the damage created by light, dust, and other environmental factors. The Smithsonian has had to balance its effort to fulfil his wishes with the need to care for the fragile and damaged object.

The American National Anthem

Set to a tune written in the late 1700’s by John Stafford Smith, it was only officially adopted in 1931 as the anthem the Star Spangled Banner.  Initially it was a poem called The Defence of Fort McHenry and it was not the only contender it seems as Hail Columbia, America the Beautiful and My Country Tis of thee were all deemed worthy of consideration. The rest as they say is history.

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Star Spangled Banner Tartan

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Appreciating the role many Scots played in the Revolutionary War of Independence and the War of 1812 against the British Crown, to include those of our name, it is not ironic that a tartan should be registered. This registration is not only in commemoration of the defiance and bravery of our American cousins but as a tartan registered in Scotland, reflects the historic link that exists between the two nations.

According to the Scottish Register of Tartans, this tartan was registered with them on the 4th July 2021.

This tartan was designed to pay tribute to the Star-Spangled Banner – the historic US flag carried during the War of 1812, and the same ‘Great Garrison Flag’ that flew over Fort McHenry during the harbour Battle of Baltimore, Sept 13th 1814. British warships pounded the American fort for 25 hours sending a bombardment of shells and rockets. After the battle in the early dawn of Sept 14th, seeing the flag still flying, Francis Scott Key was stirred to write the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry”.

The poem not only inspired the name of the flag but also became the lyrics of the national anthem of the US. The sett is created to visually represent the Stars and Stripes (the red, white & blue of the flag), and the explosive drama of the battle. The thread count of the design incorporates the past and present: 15 blue & 15 red threads represent the 15 stars & 15 stripes of the Star-Spangled Banner; 13 threads in the broad red and white stripes, and 50 threads in the dark blue field represent the present-day US Flag.

Carruthers did there bit.

6008096_129909023118.jpgTo this day, Carruthers are recognised as Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution and in fact our very own Clan Commissioner to the USA, Dana Caruthers Norton FSA Scot, can trace her ancestry back to those who fought in those wars.  

We also have of course such individuals as John Caruthers, who was an 1812 Veteran and fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.

John was born in Baltimore County, Maryland on July 12th 1746 and lived to a ripe old age of 95, passing in 1841.

This was only 32 years after John Carruthers, 12th of Holmains, 8th Baron and 21st of that line died leaving the chiefship dormant for over 200 years, until the confirmation of our current chief by the Lord Lyon in 2019.

According to ‘find a grave’: John Caruthers was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. A marker to commemorate his Revolutionary War service was erected in Okolona Cemetry, Clark County, Arkansas by the Arkadelphia Chapter; the Nathaniel Mills Chapter, Hurst, TX; the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the Clark County Historical Society in 1996.

His children included Samuel, William, John, Jr., Sarah, Martha, and Elizabeth.

Our Society is always proud to pass on information relating to our Carruthers ancestry, our Scottish heritage and as an officially recognised Scottish clan, our place in the world of international Scottish clan culture.

Promptus et Fidelis


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