Why are those flags flying downtown?
The 15-star, 15-stripe flag of the United States of America and the Red Ensign of Great Britain have been flying on Blackhawk Avenue in downtown Prairie du Chien since late April.
These were the flags that were flown in Prairie du Chien in 1812. This year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 Battle of Prairie du Chien (1814).
The 15-star, 15-stripe American flag (pictured) flew over Fort Shelby and later for a few years over the first Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien. In 1795, the number of stars and stripes on the flag was increased to 15 with the addition of Vermont and Kentucky. For the few decades, even though more states were added to the Union, the number of stars and stripes were not increased. Until 1818, the flag flown in the United States had 15 stars and stripes.
The Red Ensign British flag (pictured) is the one that flew over Fort McKay at Prairie du Chien. Though the Union Jack flag of the United Kingdom is more recognizable today, it was not the one flown by the Native Americans and others residents active in the British fur trade at that time.