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Thread: Color Bearers

  1. #1

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    Color Bearers

    What was the way color bearers were picked during the war? Was it someone who was randomly picked or was it someone of strong character/bravery?

    The reason I ask is because I was doing more research on my 3x Grandfather and found out he was color bearer for the 20th Georgia during Gettysburg and was wounded at Devils Den.

    Personally I'd rather carry a rifle but did men want to be color bearer and did they consider it an honor?
    Jesse S. Crosby, 20th Georgia Infantry, July 15, 1861 - May 6, 1864

    Samuel T. McKenzie, 20th Georgia Infantry, July 15, 1861 - September 2, 1862

    Joseph C. McKenzie, 20th Georgia Infantry, July 15, 1861 - October 1, 1863

    Henry C. McKenzie, 3rd Georgia Infantry, June 1, 1861 - January 28, 1863

    Charles R. Beddingfield, 38th Alabama Infantry

    Samuel L. Cowart, Cobb's Legion

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    I don't have time to look up the language in the drill books but he need to be able to march very very well.
    (as in keep the pace and the length of the step and the direction)

    The colors, with the help from the left and right guides are critical in moving a battalion in line from A to B in an effective manner.

    And yes, bravery and a character that the other soldiers can look up to.


    "Kautz NCO" might have something.
    http://musket.dk/wp-content/uploads/1864-Kautz_NCOs.pdf
    Thomas Bernstorff Aagaard

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    The color bearer was an honor position.

    The colors were a point of pride for each regiment with many of them having special flags outside of the standard national and state flag. (Speaking of the Union)

    The flags were also a rallying point for their regiment in a battle.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwingKid148 View Post
    The colors were a point of pride for each regiment with many of them having special flags outside of the standard national and state flag. (Speaking of the Union)
    Marginally related but I would love to see the Union able to carry both flags at the same time.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leifr View Post
    Marginally related but I would love to see the Union able to carry both flags at the same time.
    That would be sweet even if just in drill camps.

  6. #6
    It was a position of honor to become either the bearer or the guard. Once the bullets started flying, it was up to whomever was closest then reorganized afterwards. The flag was a point on the map for the higher command, and even company level, it needed to be up at all times.

    It was also used as guides in Skirmishing, Formation (being a color company for the rest to dress onto), and for various Headquarters.

    Scotts and Baxters manuals have good literature upon this.
    Last edited by L. Hopper; 12-23-2018 at 09:33 PM. Reason: Additional information.
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    From Scott's

    5O. In each battalion, the colour-guard will composed of eight or five corporals, according as the battalion may be formed in three or two ranks, and be posted on the left of the right centre company, of which company (for the time being) the guard will make a part.

    51. The corporals will be selected by the colonel, who, nevertheless, will take but one at a time from the same company, and not one from the rifle, unless the rifles have bayonets. (In battalions with less than five companies present, there will be no colour-guard and no display of colours, except it may be at reviews.

    52. The front or colour rank of the guard will be composed of a sergeant, (to be selected by the colonel) who will be called, for the time, the colour-bearer*, with a corporal on his right and left; these places will be given in preference to the corporals of grenadiers and light infantry,

    The colour, in bad or windy weather, except in saluting, will be born furled and cased. The heel or ferrule of its lance ought to have for support, a leather stirrup or socket, suspended from a belt, the latter belted around the waist of the colour-bearer.

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    It was a position of honor and pride.

    I read somewhere that early in the war some men would have a fist fight for the right to be a color barer!

  9. #9
    I bet the battle-hardened units had a different selection process to new regiments. You basically had to have a death-wish and you realistically may have many soldiers in a regiment who would prefer death to the hardships of soldier life. You could survive as a color bearer but you very well might not.


    Pride had it's limits. Like at Gettysburg when nobody would pick up the colors for one regiment.
    http://npshistory.com/series/symposi.../10/essay5.pdf
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  10. #10

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    According to Major General Winfield Scott, writer of the Infantry Tactics of 1835, which all other tactics and organization manuals are derived from, states:


    INFANTRY – TACTICS
    OR
    RULES FOR THE EXERCISE AND
    MANOEUVRES
    OF THE
    UNITED STATES’ INFANTRY.


    BY MAJOR-GENERAL SCOTT
    U.S. ARMY


    VOLUME I.
    SCHOOLS OF THE SOLDIER AND COMPANY.


    1835

    TITLE I
    ARTICLE I

    Starting on page 15 states:

    Colour–guard.

    50. In each battalion of the colour-guard will be composed of eight or five corporals, according as the battalion may be formed in three or two ranks, and be posted on the left of the right centre company, of which company (for the time being) the guard will make a part.
    51. The corporals will be selected by the colonel, who, nevertheless will take but one at a time from the same company, and not one from the rifle, unless the rifles have bayonets. (In battalions with less than five companies present, there will be no colour-guard and no display of col-ours, except it may be at reviews.)
    52. The front or colour rank of the guard will be composed of a ser-geant, (to be selected by the colonel,) who will be called, for the time, the colour-bearer*, with a corporal on his right and left; these places will be given in preference to the corporals of grenadiers and light infantry, re-spectively, as often as they compose a part of the guard.
    53. The other two ranks of the guard will each consist of three cor-porals; or if there be but one other rank, that will be so composed.
    54. When the guard consists of three ranks, the centre rank will be

    *The colour, in bad or windy weather, except in saluting, will be borne furled and cased. The heel or ferrule of its lance ought to have for support a leather stirrup or socket, sus-pended from a belt, the latter buckled around the waist of the colour-bearer.

    Continues on page 16:

    composed of the three corporals the most distinguished for regularity and precision as well in their positions under arms as in their marching.
    The latter advantage, and a just carriage of the precision, are yet to be more particularly sought for in the selection of the colour-bearer.
    55. The corporals of the colour-guard will carry their muskets with-in the right arm, as will be prescribed at the end of Title III – Bayonets always fixed.

    General Guides.

    56. There will be two general guides in each battalion, selected, for the time, by the colonel, from among the sergeants (other than first ser-geants) the most distinguished for carriage under arms, and accuracy in marching.
    57. These sergeants will be respectively denominated in the ma-neuvers right general guide and left general guide, and be posted in the line of file closers; the first, in the rear of the right, and the second in rear of the left flank of the battalion.


    So, what I read into this, the Colonel of the Regiment would review the records of the men of the color company, usually C, and based on those records, select men appropriate of rank and qualities to the position of his regimental colour-guard.

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