Flag of Columbus, Standard of Spain. A quartered flag of red, gold and silver—the standard of Castile and Leon—is generally accepted as having been the first European flag flown on American soil.
This truly regal standard was planted on the beach before the startled gaze of the awe-struck aborigines when Christopher Columbus, richly clad, set foot on shore on October 12, 1492, and, in the name of their Catholic majesties, Isabella and Ferdinand, formally took possession of the island which he called San Salvador, but which is believed to have been what is now known as Watling Island in the Bahamas.
The first banners planted upon the shores of the New World, of which there is any account, were those displayed by Columbus in 1492, when he landed upon the Island of San Salvador.
They are thus described by his son, —
Columbus, dressed in scarlet, stepped on shore from the little boat which bore him from his vessels, bearing the royal standard of Spain emblazoned with the arms of Castile and Leon, in his own hand, followed by the Pinzons in their own boats, each bearing the banner of the expedition, viz: a white flag with a green cross, having on each side the letters F and Y surmounted by golden crowns.”
The latter was the personal banner of Columbus. The “Royal Standard Flag of Spain” was composed of four sections, two with yellow castles upon red and two with red rampant lions upon a white ground. When Columbus in 1498 reached the Continent he planted the Spanish banners at the mouth of the Oronoco.
The History and Significance of the American flag: By Emily Katharine Ide. 1917 – Boston, Massachusetts.