The History of I.B.W.C.P | Proctor’s Militia

John Proctor’s Independent Battalion Westmoreland County Pennsylvania.

The very first American troops and battle flag West of the Allegheny Mountains.

I.B.W.C.P. Militia with the British Highlanders at the retreat of the Battle of Bushy Run. Artwork by Randy Steele.

I.B.W.C.P. Militia with the British Highlanders at the retreat of the Battle of Bushy Run. Artwork by Randy Steele.

Lexington

Upon hearing the news of the battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775 had reached Westmoreland County, the settlers of this western border gathered at the courthouse in Hannastown which was the county seat, six miles North of present day Greensburg. This meeting occurred on May 16, 1775. These Frontiersmen of the borderland framed that day the famous Hannastown Resolves, a copy of which was sent to the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia. These Resolves stated the inhabitants of Westmoreland relief measures for the people besieged in Boston, Massachusetts, they would raise money and supplies to defend their homes and state.

Historic Hanna's Town, Greensburg, Pennsylvania
The reconstructed Tavern of Robert Hanna with the county gaol next door at Hanna’s Town

They were unanimous in proclaiming that freedom from Great Britain should be a primary act of the people, and that they would form themselves into a body of armed and disciplined troops to defend the Western border of the Colony. One year later on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia the Declaration of Independence was framed, incorporating all the resolves that were proclaimed more than a year before on the western border in Hannastown. The initial body of troops raised in Pennsylvania West of the Allegheny Mountains was from among those men who met at Hannastown in the summer of 1775.

Three Battalions

Three Battalions of Riflemen were first formed under the command of John Proctor who was the Sheriff of Westmoreland County at the time, he was given the rank of Colonel. They served under various officers both in Washington’s Army in the East and against the Indians on the Western frontier borders from 1775 until 1781, and later until 1795.

The I.B.W.C.P. Colors

This is the original Revolutionary War era flag of John Proctor's I.B.W.C.P. militia. Currently on display at the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This is the original Revolutionary War era flag of John Proctor’s I.B.W.C.P. militia. Currently on display at the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This flag predates the Stars and Stripes by two years, is here described in replica: A British red ensign bearing the cross of St. George and St. Andrew in the upper left corner has on its crimson field the following letters: JP IBWCP.

These stand for “ John Proctors Independent Battalion of Westmoreland County Provincials.” The coiled rattlesnake and the ringing words “Don’t Tread On Me.” The symbolism being, anyone who treads on the rattlesnakes that reside in Westmoreland County does so at his own peril.  The flag was adopted as the flag of Westmoreland County in celebration of the bicentennial of Westmoreland County in 1973.  Today you can see the original I.B.W.C.P. flag on display at the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.