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"weight of regimental flag" Topic

13 Posts

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18th Century
American Civil War
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1,304 hits since 15 Apr 2018
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Comments or corrections?

Osage201715 Apr 2018 2:31 p.m. PST

How heavy were the regimental / battalion flags ?

Could you run with it ? :-)

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Apr 2018 3:41 p.m. PST

I've carried ACW flags. They are probably 6-8 pounds including the staff and fabric. They are a bit awkward due to their size. I've certainly seen our standard bearers running with them.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2018 3:43 p.m. PST

Me, no. There's a reason they gave them to teenagers.

But that's why regimental standards were silk and not cotton or wool. 28 momme silk--which is what you'd use for curtains, not dresses--is 28 pounds for a piece 45" x 100 yards. So a 6' x 6' regimental standard of the stuff would weigh in at something like one pound. The staff would be worse, but the young fellow carrying the standard is NOT carrying a musket, cartridge box and knapsack or haversack. In my younger and fitter days, I was known to sometimes run the guidon all the way around a running PT formation. (The trick was keeping up for the rest of the run.) My guess was that young Fahnenjunker (?) von Clausewitz could easily keep going for 100 yards, and you wouldn't want a battalion in the attack to run that far.

Now, keeping up with a rout might be trickier.

Osage201715 Apr 2018 3:56 p.m. PST


ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Apr 2018 4:55 p.m. PST

ACW flags were usually carried by a sergeant (who might well be not much out of his teens). During the ACW there was no actual rank of 'color sergeant'. If two flags were carried (national and regimental) then often two of the corporals in the color guard would carry the flags with the sergeant in between them.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2018 6:09 p.m. PST

Running away from a bayonet charge that broke through would come very naturally.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2018 7:24 p.m. PST

Oh, it would come naturally, miniMo. But line soldiers in that position often don't weight themselves down with muskets, which handicaps the guy still trying to carry the flagstaff and keep up with them.

Supercilius Maximus16 Apr 2018 1:31 a.m. PST

Yes, throwing away the flag to aid running is considered a bit of a no-no.

I believe there is an 18th Century account of a British ensign being blown over in a high wind during an inspection whilst trying to control the colours. Worth noting that the British generally only half-unfurled the colours in battle, just enough for the central badge to show, in order to make them more manageable. Did other countries with large(r) flags also do this?

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Apr 2018 4:30 a.m. PST

Yes, high winds are a problem. I've seen the color bearers grab the fly end of the flag and hold it against the staff, reducing the surface area (and also sparing the guy NEXT to the bearer from being whipped to death by the flag flapping in the breeze).

Walking Sailor16 Apr 2018 7:55 a.m. PST

Yes, the biggest problem while running isn't the weight, it's the sail area. There's a lot of drag. A tail wind helps. Oops, need another line in the weather rules.
Boy Scouts & Cub Scouts have a Color Guard in parades. There is a harness which provides a cup at your belly button for the butt of the flag staff. An eleven year old isn't carrying the weight with his arms but does need to keep the staff at about a 30 degree angle. You need to swap in a new Color Bearer every once in a while. Use the bigger boys, and part of that is so they get to share the honor.

AICUSV16 Apr 2018 8:56 p.m. PST

I too spent some time carrying Federal ACW colors (I'm carrying one in the Movie "Gettysburg"). Weight is less than a musket, running with the color wasn't not that much of a problem.

As to high winds, our unit once did a parade on a very windy day. We had permitted a young fellow to carry our color for the parade he was a bit of a light weight. The strong wind was really ripping the color around so this fellow reached forward a grabbed the bottom fly corner, forming a triangular sail that actually lifted him off the ground.

Trajanus17 Apr 2018 1:18 a.m. PST

If I recall correctly the British used to rotate Ensigns holding the Colours in and out of the line, like Football players between Downs. I've often wondered if this was for fatigue or to try and ensure at least two of them might be alive at the end of a battle!

EJNashIII02 May 2018 6:48 p.m. PST

I have done it quite often as a reenactor for the National Regiment US. You figure out what you need to do and get it done. In reality, since the regiment doesn't "run" that often, neither do you. Fighting with the wind is your biggest headache. The second biggest is your responsibility of maintaining the pace, direction, and center of the battle line. In reality, number 2 becomes even harder as you are the aiming point for most of the enemy regiment.

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