Federal regiments carried two colors, one national, the other regimental, which were taken to epitomize the honor and pride of the regiment. Such colors inevitably became the focal point for hostile fire in battle; the enemy made strenuous efforts to capture them and the regiment made equally strenuous efforts to defend them, with many deaths and wounds on both sides in consequence. An added feature of the colors was that the regiment's past battle honors were either painted or embroidered onto them, thus adding to their significance as a highly visible record of the regiment's past achievements.
In the Civil War, the colors were still carried in battle, their safety being entrusted to the color guard, and to be a member of such a small and elite group was considered a great honor, despite the obvious and very real dangers.
Today, such elderly colors, many I of them made of silk, face an acute preservation problem, their natural fragility being accentuated by age and pollutants. Many states, North and South, have begun conservation programs, but funding is always a problem The states of New York, ] New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, ] Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri are all involved in such conservation, and 1 have particularly fine state flag collections - some more accessible than others. Other examples may be found in county historical societies.
I State national color purchased by officers of the 50th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at their own expense, to replace the previous color which had been lost at the Battle of Second Manassas (Second Bull Run), August 29-30, 1862 This particular color was carried by the regiment during the Battle of Fredericksburg, following which it was sent to Philadelphia to have battle honors painted on and, as a result, was not carried at Gettysburg A new state color was issued to the regiment in the fall of 1863, and Colonel Hoffman, the commanding officer, sent this color home for safe-keeping 2 State regimental color presented to the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry by the citizens of Bridgeport and Morristown, Pennsylvania, during Christmas 1864 when the regiment was stationed before Petersburg, during the siege of that city
Was this article helpful?