John Paul Jones gets his ship shot out from under him, the Bonhomme Richard (1779), and he boards his prize, the British ship HMS Serapis.
Jones lands in a Dutch port for repairs and supplies. The Dutch were supposedly neutral. The Brit diplomats say that Jones is a Pirate, in that he has no recognizable national flag on his captured vessel.
The Dutch recognize the
The Dutch, by diplomatic reason and or bribe (probably bribe from Dutch bankers already banking on the Americans backed by the French) slips a sketch of Jones’ improvised flag retroactively into the Dutch records. They recognize the Serapis flag as the official flag of the
Voila! The HMS Sepapis is then a legitimate prize of war by a legitimate nation. It goes to show you how with the Serapis American flag, how too many cooks can spoil any broth.
And so it goes. Or so it went.