Color Guard Drill Digest

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
This is all wonderful information @StonewallSharpeson. My reference for citing eight corporals is this:

I especially appreciate the breakdown of the company and the roles of the different NCOs. A few follow up questions:

1) How realistic was it for the color guard to hold their fire during battle? Are there any primary sources that indicate whether this was actually held to or not? Similarly, did they often step back when the line was firing as you indicated here:
"When the battalion is preparing to fire, the color guard steps back one rank in order to protect the color from musket discharges. Once firing has ceased, the color guard will step forward to its original alignment."

As a side note - this phenomenon can be seen in this video at 1:37

2) In Hardee's it reads: "37. The front rank will be composed of a sergeant, to be selected by the colonel, who will be called, for the time being color-bearer, with the two ranking corporals, respectively to his right and left; the rear rank will be composed of the three corporals next in rank; and the three remaining corporals will be posted in their rear, and on the line of the file closers. The left guide of the color-company, when these three last named corporals are in rank of the file closers, will be immediately on their left."

Does this mean there would be a gap between the first two ranks of the color guard and the third? Since the file closers are a few paces back from the main line of battle? Or are they just a third rank behind the regular line of battle?

3) If the color guard lives with their own companies and only comes together during battle, what would happen if a unit got surprised on the march? I'm thinking of the Iron Brigade at Brawner's Farm. Or did they live with their companies in camp and then whenever the regiment was on the march they would join the color guard in the column?

4) If the color guard is drawn from the ranks, then wouldn't each company "technically" have more than 4 corporals, just some of them would be with the color guard? Also, if 8 men are being drawn for the color guard, there would "technically" be an uneven number of corporals throughout the company, especially if decisions are based purely on merit rather than equitable distribution through the sections/platoons. You write: "Side note: in theory, since all of the companies and sections are supposed to be of approximately the same size, the platoons and sections of the color company should be adjusted to make up for the additional men of the color guard, to the point of sending privates to other companies to level out the number of men in the color company. I did not mention this in the paper because I thought it trivial, and it can be accounted for with proper adherence to guides."

What I'm getting at is this: I've been trying to draw up a TO&E for your average Civil War regiment. I've found even the diagrams in the manuals to be somewhat wanting as they abstract things into boxes and rectangles. I'm trying to visualize, all formed up in line of battle, where everyone would stand and how they would interact.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Location
Fayetteville, AR
COMMUNITY QUESTION:

Hello, everyone! Version 0.6, which I think might be sufficient to be called version 1.0, is coming!
I have a question: do you think it would make more sense for me to re-divide the drill from the arbitrary "basic, "intermediate, advanced," into sections related to Schools of the Soldier, Company, and Battalion? Though I might still split the SoB material into "basic" and "advanced". What do you think?

@grognard I found some good comments in Scott's 1835 about the selection and positioning of NCOs for the color guard. Selection is done by the colonel and positioning is by their precision in marching, etc. I'll be adding this to the next version. I'm also looking to see if Scott has any more detail about the presentation of the color; but I think your comments make sense.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Location
Fayetteville, AR
@Zack

0) I took a look at your link. Since the author of that page doesn't cite his sources, as far as I noticed, I don't know from where he is getting that information.

1) About holding fire: that is a good question. I don't know. I think the idea, as far as the manuals is concerned, is that the color guard should have loaded muskets in case they are approached by any enemy soldiers who might be looking to capture a color. The drill certainly has a preference for having some soldiers with loaded muskets at any given time. As I've said, my intent is to lay down what is detailed in the manuals; field practice and experience might vary.

As for the color guard falling back a rank during firing: it's only a phenomenon in reenacting because most reenactors don't know the drill; it's all in the manuals. In the paper I have cited each paragraph in the manuals where you can find the source of my paraphrasing, for your consideration.
I can also personally say that aiming past or underneath a color, especially a large one, is difficult. I once carried a huge CS second national color at an event and, because of the way the wind was blowing, chose to hold on to its tail so that it wouldn't drift into the color company.

2) In short, yes. The rank of file closers is two paces behind the line of battle. In Scott's manuals, designed for three ranks, the three corporals in question would simply have made up the third rank.

3) What I meant here is that the color guardsmen return to their home companies when the battalion is not formed and the color is in possession of the colonel and under guard. This would be, for instance, in the evenings or early mornings when the battalion is not formed. When on the march, the battalion would be formed under arms and the color guard would be assembled.
This would have been the case at Second Manassas, at Brawner's Farm. The Army of Virginia on the march pursuing what Pope thought to be a fleeing Jackson.
A better example of what I think you're thinking would instead be a sudden surprise attack, such as Jackson's flank attack on the 11th Corps at Chancellorsville. In that case, the battalion might have been dismissed for fatigue duty or dismissed for the evening, the color guards would not have been formed, that the colors likely would have been posted under guard at whatever was designated as the battalion commander's quarters. In that case, the Union troops would have had to rapidly assemble and the colonel (and probably his quarter's guard) would have brought the colors directly to the forming battalion and the assembling color guard; there would have been no time for the usual ceremony.

4) That's true, those companies would be down a corporal. They would simply have to adjust accordingly, either by placement of the remaining corporals, or perhaps tapping a "high private" to serve as a corporal.
As for the plates in the manuals, they very greatly depending on what publication you find. By thoroughly reading the manuals, the plates begin to make more sense and certain details are not necessary. For instance, plates concerning the School of the Battalion don't need to have individual soldiers labeled because of the scale of the plate and also because it is expected that the reader has already mastered School of the Company where that detail is given.
For this paper, I perused over a dozen copies of manuals to try and find what I thought were the best plates. For basic instructional purposes, I highly recommend the modified plate which I posted in my first reply to you and which will be added to the next version of the paper. It should be noted that that plate is of a stationary battalion, rather than one marching forward. There are some differences.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your work!
 

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
@StonewallSharpeson

Thank you for the prompt response! So, just to clarify, the stepping back when firing is just a reenactorism; it is not in the manuals. I checked Hardees Vol. 2 #41 and 45 and didn't see it.

In reading 45, I was a little puzzled as to the wording. To quote it:
458. When the color company shall have entered the line, the colonel will command, guide centre. At this command, the color-bearer and the right general guide will move rapidly six paces in advance of the line. The colonel will assure the direction of the color-bearer. The lieutenant colonel and the right companies will immediately conform themselves to the principles of the march in line of battle. The left companies and the left general guide, as they arrive on the line, will also conform to the same principles If the column be marching in double quick time, when the last company shall have arrived on the line, the colonel will cause the double quick to be resumed.

When a regiment is advancing, the color bearers move six paces ahead of the line, but do they then stay there during the advance or is it just to check they're going the right way? And then the rest of the regiment forms on the color bearer?

Or does the flag advance in the front rank of the line, which is what I always assumed was the case?
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Location
Fayetteville, AR
@Zack I assure you that not doing so is a reenactorism, and it is in the manuals. We may be reading different editions of the manual, which may have different numbering of paragraphs. The below screenshots are from my copy:

1601346509925.png

1601346538327.png

1601346559460.png


For your second question, we have to look at the context of the paragraph which you are reading. That particular passage concerns forming the battalion into line of battle from a column of companies while on the march. Basically all that it is saying is that, once the color company is in line, the colonel will change the guide back to the center, and that the companies will take their guide from the color guard once they are in line.
If the column of companies was moving in double-quick time at the start of the maneuver, as each company comes in line it will change its step to quick time until the whole battalion is in line, then movement in double-quick time may resume. Otherwise, the outer companies would trail behind the inner companies until the battalion is halted.

1601346905187.png

1601346929871.png

1601347786047.png


Here's the plate I found for this:
1601350945068.png


When the battalion is marching forward and the guide is center, the color rank stays 6 paces in front of the front rank of the battalion. The battalion does not close this distance or come in line with the color rank. Once the battalion is halted and the guides ordered to post, the color rank returns to the front rank of the battalion. The battalion does not come to meet it. This rule is general.
 
Last edited:

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
@StonewallSharpeson Thank you for the excellent responses! I've really enjoyed reading about this topic. I don't reenact and have not spent a lot of time with the manuals so appreciate your thorough responses.

I came across this while googling: http://www.47thva.org/pages/articles/colorguard.html

It drew it out in the following charts:

O= Officer; 1s= 1st Sergeant; 2s= Left Guide; P= Private; C= Corporal; FC= File Closers; 1-8= Guards; B= Bearer; |\ = Front; the numbers in the color guard indicate seniority

Diagram A
Color Company with Color Guard in Line of Battle
|\
---------1 B 2 C P P P C C P P P P C O
---------3 5 4 P P P P P P P P P P P 1S
-----2S 6 8 7----FC---FC--FC--FC

Diagram B
Battalion in position of Forward March
|\
----LG----------------1 B 2---------------RG

----______ ______ 3 5 4 ______ ______
----______ ______ 6 8 7 ______ ______

Diagram C
Battalion at Halt, firing
|\
----______ ______-------______ ______
----______ ______ 1 B 2 ______ ______
----LG----------------3 5 4-----------------RG
-----------------------6 8 7

Diagram D
Battalion at Charge Bayonet, Forward March
|\
----LG-------------------------------------RG

----______ ______ 1 B 2 ______ ______
----______ ______ 3 5 4 ______ ______
-----------------------6 8 7

Diagram E
Battalion retreating
|\
----______ ______ 1 5 2 ______ ______
----______ ______ 3 8 4 ______ ______
----LG----------------6 B 7----------------RG


How do these diagrams look to you?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Location
Fayetteville, AR
@Zack Yes, in principle those drawings are correct. Except, it has the general guides still out in front of the battalion during the charge illustration. Rather, they should return to their positions behind the flank companies.
I don't think the numbers are meant to convey seniority of members within the guard, and if they do then I would disagree with the order in which they've assigned that seniority; but that's splitting hairs as far as reenacting is concerned. Really the whole seniority thing as I suggest it in the paper is really just conjecture from a few sentences in the old manuals by Scott; who can say if it was actually observed.
Here's a sneak peak at what one of my new illustrations will look like, unless I try the Visio route:
1601506321579.png
 
Last edited:

tleupus

Cadet
Joined
Mar 8, 2019
@Zack Yes, in principle those drawings are correct. Except, it has the general guides still out in front of the battalion during the charge illustration. Rather, they should return to their positions behind the flank companies.
I don't think the numbers are meant to convey seniority of members within the guard, and if they do then I would disagree with the order in which they've assigned that seniority; but that's splitting hairs as far as reenacting is concerned. Really the whole seniority thing as I suggest it in the paper is really just conjecture from a few sentences in the old manuals by Scott; who can say if it was actually observed.
Here's a sneak peak at what one of my new illustrations will look like, unless I try the Visio route:
View attachment 376575

I know this is an old topic but I am curious of your opinion of the guard from right and left faces. Do the "2's" step up like a normal file or does the guard simply face left or right?
 

SgtDarby8OVI

Private
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
Here are my somewhat relevant color guard stories. At the NPS living history during 150th Gettysburg I was the 2nd sergeant of the National Regiment color company and thus had the full, 9-man color guard at my end of the line. Being a new 2nd sgt. I was pretty confused as to where I needed to be when the battalion moved in various ways, since as the illustration above shows, at one point I end in the line of file closers behind the next company's first sgt. when in a battalion front. We got through it fine, but I remember thinking how unwieldy that full-sized color guard was.

At the GAC reenactment later that week I was carrying the colors of the NR and we were on the right side of the wall during Pickett's charge. We had done some desultory firing early in the scenario and it was made clear that members of the color guard (now down to 6) were not to participate in this long range volleying. Due to some bad planning, the color company ended up the far left of the battalion, thus the color guard was exposed by a gap between us and the unit to our left. As the rebels approached, the firing got heavier and the rebs made their obligatory rush to the wall. At that point, I gently reminded the boys around me that guarding the colors might involve shooting the advancing enemy. When nobody fired, I lost my composure and shouted "shoot em! shoot the rebs! guard the colors and SHOOT!" What was funny is that the rebs were close enough to see and hear my admonitions and some of them were grinning as they pitched over the wall and died gloriously in our midst.

At 150th Appomattox, you can see that the NR used the smallest version of the color guard as it advanced during the action prior to the cease fire. Too bad that one goober is looking back, as its a great photo otherwise. (photo by the NPS)

11112500_963968970300452_4153620743738808439_n.jpg
 

grognard

Private
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
The OP asked for the reference for the 12 man color guard. I was just reading about the Battle of Chaffin's Farm in the Summer 2021 issue of Military Heritage. Here is a quote from Sgt Maj Christian Fleetwood of the 4th USCT, who received a Medal of Honor for his actions that day:

"When the charge was started, our color guard was full; two sergeants and 10 corporals. Only one of the 12 came off that field on his own feet."

(Fleetwood himself carried the National color after its bearer was mortally wounded.)

Formation is not specified, but it would be logical to have the two sergeants bearing colors in the middle of the front rank - to start with...
 

garytameling

Private
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Location
New York
After the Color Guard was chosen, and whenever these men reported for duty:
1) Were absent Corporals "replaced" by Privates in the affected Companies?
2) What of the resultant gaps in the Companies' Lines of Battle and Ranks of File Closers? Did each affected Company thus need to re-form, as though a departed man was no longer a member of the Company?
My thought is that each Company "finalized" its formation (choices of Officers and NCO's, height order of the Company's Line of Battle, placements of the eight Corporals (eight, as per the Revised Army Regulations of Aug 10, 1861 for Volunteers) in the Front Rank, etcetera) before the bestowal of the Colors, since Companies were organized before any consolidations of Companies into Regiments. Therefore, when men were "plucked" from the Regiment's Companies in order to form the Color Guard, each affected Company was thus presented with the afore-mentioned gaps. I know that, according to Hardee's and Casey's manuals, the most senior Corporals would replace any departed Sergeants, but no mention was made of any Privates that would replace any departed Corporals.
This scenario of re-formation of the affected Companies seems to be unlikely, since the departed men were only "loaned" to the Color Guard. Thus, when they returned to their Companies, their places were again made available to them, and that would have necessitated (or strongly warranted) the fact that the Companies were not completely re-formed. However, with that said, one must remember that each Regiment was probably formed for duty somewhat often, especially during campaigns, so the Color Guard and the Regiment might have assembled more often than did solely the individual Companies. Thus, maybe to form the Companies as though the departed men were permanently removed might have been the more realistic, economical, and/or most utilized form of assembly, given the ratio of time in which the Color Guard members Were-Included-in-Companies to Were-Not-Included-in-Companies.
Has anyone any insight to these questions of mine? :help::frantic:
 

captaindrew

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 13, 2017
Location
Whereabouts Unknown
After the Color Guard was chosen, and whenever these men reported for duty:
1) Were absent Corporals "replaced" by Privates in the affected Companies?
2) What of the resultant gaps in the Companies' Lines of Battle and Ranks of File Closers? Did each affected Company thus need to re-form, as though a departed man was no longer a member of the Company?
My thought is that each Company "finalized" its formation (choices of Officers and NCO's, height order of the Company's Line of Battle, placements of the eight Corporals (eight, as per the Revised Army Regulations of Aug 10, 1861 for Volunteers) in the Front Rank, etcetera) before the bestowal of the Colors, since Companies were organized before any consolidations of Companies into Regiments. Therefore, when men were "plucked" from the Regiment's Companies in order to form the Color Guard, each affected Company was thus presented with the afore-mentioned gaps. I know that, according to Hardee's and Casey's manuals, the most senior Corporals would replace any departed Sergeants, but no mention was made of any Privates that would replace any departed Corporals.
This scenario of re-formation of the affected Companies seems to be unlikely, since the departed men were only "loaned" to the Color Guard. Thus, when they returned to their Companies, their places were again made available to them, and that would have necessitated (or strongly warranted) the fact that the Companies were not completely re-formed. However, with that said, one must remember that each Regiment was probably formed for duty somewhat often, especially during campaigns, so the Color Guard and the Regiment might have assembled more often than did solely the individual Companies. Thus, maybe to form the Companies as though the departed men were permanently removed might have been the more realistic, economical, and/or most utilized form of assembly, given the ratio of time in which the Color Guard members Were-Included-in-Companies to Were-Not-Included-in-Companies.
Has anyone any insight to these questions of mine? :help::frantic:
They would be constantly adjusting on the fly. Companies were hardly, if ever, at full strength. There would be casualties, guys on sick leave, guys on furlough, guys on detached duty such as color guard, guard duty, picket duty, ect...... Guys would be picked for the color guard well ahead of time, they wouldn't be plucked from the ranks in formation. A good experienced enlisted man should be able to step up in any NCO position if needed, like on a sports team when there's injuries "next man up"
 

grognard

Private
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
Companies were hardly, if ever, at full strength.

Something reenactors often fail to appreciate is that the word "company" means a couple of different things.

On paper, a "company" is a legal entity, with permanently assigned officers, NCOs, privates, and even a wagoner and two musicians. A man stays on the company rolls until he is discharged, transferred, or dies. This is important because his status on the roster determines his pay.

In the field, a "company" is a lot more flexible. As captaindrew said there are many reasons why the paper company is rarely at full strength. The manuals also call for companies to be "equalized" by transferring men from larger companies to smaller ones. This isn't a permanent paper transfer, it's "you three guys go fall in with Company B".

The manuals also call for "absent officers and sergeants to be replaced". I think it's questionable whether this was actually done with diminished numbers. Four officers and five sergeants is pretty wasteful if it leaves only eight corporals and no privates - though we've all seen reenactment companies that looked that bad, or worse!

The books provide enough officers and sergeants to break a 100 man company down into 4 25 man sections (more or less). That gives each section one officer, one sergeant, and two corporals, with one extra sergeant. I suspect these proportions were used as a rough guideline - a 25 man company needs only one officer, one (or two) sergeants, and two corporals. Unfortunately, "what was actually done" doesn't seem to be very well documented.
 

garytameling

Private
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Location
New York
They would be constantly adjusting on the fly. Companies were hardly, if ever, at full strength. There would be casualties, guys on sick leave, guys on furlough, guys on detached duty such as color guard, guard duty, picket duty, ect...... Guys would be picked for the color guard well ahead of time, they wouldn't be plucked from the ranks in formation. A good experienced enlisted man should be able to step up in any NCO position if needed, like on a sports team when there's injuries "next man up"
Well, yes, I know that Companies were almost never at full-strength. However, for the answer that I seek, let us assume that no attrition of any form occurs during the initial muster formations of the Companies at their hometowns through to the selection of members for the Regimental Color Guard.
During its time within the Camp of Instruction, the Regiment is bestowed with the National Colors. Perhaps also it is bestowed with Regimental Colors. At this time, or perhaps even earlier (possibly as early as when the Consolidation-of-Companies-into-a-Regiment occurred), the Color Guard members were chosen. Thus, as I stated in my first post, there thus occurred "gaps" within the affected Companies: they were initially formed at the muster, and their formations were then altered by the selections for Color Guard. How then did the Companies compensate for these resultant "gaps"? Were Privates elevated to Temporary Corporals in order to compensate for the departed Corporals (though this is not mentioned as part of the process in Hardee's or Casey's manuals)? Did the Companies need to re-form - Height Order, Placement of Corporals, etcetera - all over again? Or did the Companies maintain their initial formations, and the posts of the departed men were simply occupied by designated replacements?
 

grognard

Private
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
How then did the Companies compensate for these resultant "gaps"?

Short answer: We don't know. Since it's not prescribed in the Tactics or Regulations, this sort of thing is at company commander's discretion.

Were Privates elevated to Temporary Corporals in order to compensate for the departed Corporals (though this is not mentioned as part of the process in Hardee's or Casey's manuals)?

Probably not, at least not formally. Putting a private at the end of the front rank doesn't make him a corporal; and a corporal's job in ranks (or even in skirmish drill) is no different than a private's. A private would know he was "bucking for corporal" when he was selected to do real "corporal stuff", like commanding a guard relief or serving as corporal of the guard.

Did the Companies need to re-form - Height Order, Placement of Corporals, etcetera - all over again?

Probably yes. The idea of each man having a set place in the ranks is pretty laughable, considering that each company probably "paraded" with a different number of men each time it fell in. And when companies were "equalized" for maneuvering purposes, some of those men were strangers.
This is one reason (along with best appearance) why companies were supposed to be formed by height. Kautz's Customs of Service even suggests alternating the height order (tallest on right in odd companies, tallest on left in even companies) so you don't get sharp breaks in height where he company flanks are joined.

Or did the Companies maintain their initial formations, and the posts of the departed men were simply occupied by designated replacements?

Pretty unlikely - it would be a nightmare to keep track of.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Location
Fayetteville, AR
So version 1.0 has been ready for some time, but I've been having trouble getting copies uploaded to the OPs where they've been posted (requires admin involvement). I'm actually working on a version 1.1, and some new sources have come to my attention which would warrant version 2.0, but that wouldn't be ready for a couple of months at the earliest.

The point being, if you want the latest version it would be best to reach out to me.

Also, at some point I'll respond to some of the responses which have been posted since I last looked at this thread. I love the engagement!
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Location
Fayetteville, AR
Thanks for the reference about the 4th USCT, @grognard! If it were me, I don't think that I would have the two color bearers in the center of the 12-man (4-file) guard just because of how those big flags can be difficult to control and one would want some room for them. I think I would have them in the end files, or staggered. We'll have to see if we can find any other such references or descriptions.

I'm going to look through some of the new sources which have been recommended to me, including Kautz's Customs of Service, the ORs, the United States Service Magazine, the US Regs, and the Army and Navy Journal.

@garytameling, with regard to your questions about the members of the guard who were pulled from companies:
I think that the officers and NCOs of a given company would just adjust with the men they had at their disposal. Since the members of the color guard were decided ahead of time, it's not like the NCO in question were being physically plucked from the ranks while in battalion formation; a company would have plenty of time to sort out how they wanted things to be run and arranged. A corporal missing from the ranks is not going to be the end of the world, and the officers and NCOs likely would have had candidates for corporals in mind who could fill the roles of the missing NCOs. In short: improvise, adapt, and overcome.
Now what if we extend the question to regard losses in combat. In that case, I would think they would wait for a lull in the fighting to reform their companies, possibly even as if from scratch. There are several commands which would enable a depleted company to very easily reform a two-rank line, and these men would have been more proficient at it than most reenactors. When you read about units rallying in the rear, this is probably precisely what is going on; calming the men, restoring order, and reorganizing and appointing temporary replacements.
 

garytameling

Private
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Location
New York
Side note: in theory, since all of the companies and sections are supposed to be of approximately the same size, the platoons and sections of the color company should be adjusted to make up for the additional men of the color guard, to the point of sending privates to other companies to level out the number of men in the color company. I did not mention this in the paper because I thought it trivial, and it can be accounted for with proper adherence to guides.
I know that the Color Guard is attached to the left flank of 5th (or Right-of-Center) Company of the Battalion, and that it will follow its alignment and commands of its Commander (unless, of course, these commands somehow conflict with the duty of the Color Guard), but is the Color Guard truly considered to be integrated into 5th (RoC) Company? The Color Guard doesn't fight the enemy, or even bring their weapons from the Shoulder Arms carry, except in response to a DIRECT THREAT to the Colors. Therefore, if men are temporarily transferred from 5th (RoC) Company, as per the "Equalization of Strength of Companies of the Battalion" practice, then that is a loss of firepower of potentially 9 men to this Company. That seems to be particularly risky if this Company has more direct involvement in the protection of the Colors than do the other Companies of the Battalion. Is there anything that can absolutely clarify whether or not the Color Guard is really a part of 5th (RoC) Company during its formation, or is simply attached to this Company so that it is not an independent demi-unit within the Battalion?
 

grognard

Private
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
Is there anything that can absolutely clarify whether or not the Color Guard is really a part of 5th (RoC) Company during its formation, or is simply attached to this Company so that it is not an independent demi-unit within the Battalion?

There is no permanent "fifth company" or "right of centre company". Per the instructions for "Formation of a Battalion" at the beginning of each tactical manual, companies take their places in line according to the seniority of their captains. The senior captain commands the right flank company; the next senior commands the left flank company, and the third senior commands the "right centre company" - which means the color company (if colors are displayed).

If the company letters happened to be assigned to captains in order of seniority, this would make Company C the color company initially. However, as casualties occurred the seniority of the captains would change. If the colonel, lieutenant colonel or major are killed or severely wounded, Captain Able (of Company A) becomes Major Able - and suddenly Company A becomes tenth in seniority order (under First Lieutenant Aardvark :smile:). B takes the right flank, C the left - and Company D is the new color company. It could easily be more confusing if there are multiple officer casualties.

For this reason, flexibility is key and the Color Guard needs to be an ad hoc entity. Ideally, every company commander should know the duties pertaining to the color company; every sergeant should be prepared to be a color bearer; and every corporal should know how to serve in the color guard. Whether this happened in practice probably depended a lot on the colonel's preferences and the quality of the battalion staff.
 
Top