These days the stars and stripes of the American flag are internationally recognized as a symbol of America. But the flag enjoyed its first official flight on September 3, 1777, when the United States was still fighting for its independence. It was General William Maxwell who gave the first okay for the flag to be raised as a symbol of colonial unity during the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in Delaware.

The Battle of Cooch’s Bridge

The battle had actually begun on August 30, with the Colonial troops under the leadership of none other than George Washington himself. At the time, the Colonists were incredibly outnumbered by both the British and Hessian troops. None the less, they had been attempting to hold their rivals off using guerilla warfare tactics they had picked up from the Native Americans.

The battle was not going so well for the Colonials, who had been driven back by their British and Hessian rivals. But on September 3rd, General Maxwell led a stealthy attack with just 100 men who were able to get off a few shots from the cover of the surrounding brush. Though they eventually ran out of ammo and had to retreat, it wasn’t before debuting America’s newly minted flag.

The flag’s accidentally symbolic first flight date

Legend has it that the flag was a collaboration of George Washington and a Philidelphia seamstress named Betsy Ross. Though historians have always had a hard time proving the validity of the flag’s origin one way or another, its design proved spot-on for the newly emerging nation. Just three months before it saw its first flight, the flag had been validated by the Continental Congress on June 14th. It was then that it was announced that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Though the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge may not have been a massive win, it did cement September 3rd as the day of the flag’s first official flight. As synchronicity would have it, it was on September 3, 1783, that the Revolutionary War would officially come to an end.