Don’t Give Up the Guidon: A Short History of Civil War Flags

Learning about the stories behind various Civil War flags is a favorite pastime for American history buffs, especially collectors of union and confederate flags. 

One type of flag that is common to most collections from the Civil War era is a cavalry guidon.  People who haven’t served in the military may be unfamiliar with this French-sounding term.  To clarify, a guidon is a military standard carried by companies or platoons to signify their unity designation and corps affiliation, such as Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines.  Most military guidons are rectangular in shape, but they often have a triangular shape that can be removed, which would make the flag “swallow-tailed”. 

During the Civil War, just like today, the guidon flag was flown with a great sense of pride.  To this day, several military traditions revolve around this flag.  For example, if the service member carrying the guidon should drop it, he must fall with it and perform a set or two of push-ups as punishment. It is also considered an honor to carry the guidon flag, so it is taken quite seriously in drills and ceremonies. 

Because the Civil War guidons were taken even more seriously than any of ours, other units would often try to steal the guidon as a way to antagonize or demoralize the soldiers. But any veteran soldier will tell you never to give up the guidon unless absolutely necessary.

Collectors of confederate flags and other Civil War flags will enjoy the complete selection of all types of battle flags and more just by searching on the FLAGPRO Online Catalog. 

Starting a collection of Civil War flags is a great way to track the various battles and important events of this era of national turmoil.  Many history buffs and Civil War historians collect small framed flags from a variety of sources, but the number of authentic flags is very limited. 

Replica flags are a much more affordable way to complete a collection, and can be used during reenactments.  Shopping at a U.S. flag store for replicas is a great way to fill gaps in a Civil War flag collection.  The Advertising Flag Company has been making and selling a wide variety of flags since 1936, and their FLAGPRO® Flag Store offers a huge selection of affordable flags, banners, flagpoles and accessories.

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