Betsy Ross had a better publicist, but if Abraham Swartwout hadn't offered up his cloak of "Dutch Blue", the "stars and stripes" would not have been carried into battle for the very first time in upstate New York but on some other field of the Revolutionary War. During St. Leger's Expedition down the Mohawk Valley in an effort to link up with Burgoyne during the Saratoga Campaign, a plucky force of 750 men under Colonel Peter Gansevoort made a stand at Fort Stanwix against a force of more than 2000 loyalists, Canadians, Indians, British and Hessians. Among the fort's defenders was Captain Swartwout of Poughkeepsie, New York.
Benning Lossing's Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution picks up the story:
"The garrison was...without a flag when the enemy appeared, but their pride and ingenuity soon supplied one in conformity to the pattern adopted by the Continental Congress. Shirts were cut up to form the white stripes, bits of scarlet cloth were joined for the red, and the blue ground for the stars was composed of a cloth cloak belonging to Captain Abraham Swartwout, of Dutchess county, who was then in the fort. Before sunset the curious mosaic-work standard, as precious to the beleaguered garrison as the most beautifully-wrought flag of silk and needle-work, was floating over one of the bastions."
"that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
Patriots in Dutchess County New York were called "Blueskins" by the Tory Press. Captain Swartwout, whose coat was blue but whose name in Dutch translates as "Blackwood", did his full patriotic duty. Two of his sons later served their country with General's ranks. Nonetheless, he also displayed a thrifty streak, and because of this history records his contribution. He submitted a bill for 8 shillings to replace the cloak he donated "for the colors."