Questions about color guards

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#1
I hope my questions aren't half-baked. I'm researching my gg-grandfather's experiences in the Civil War, and he says in his diary he's a member of the color guard of the 14th Iowa Infantry Volunteers. He was in Company C, and I have heard that the color guard usually or often was in Company C. I also understand the color guards were made up of sergeants and corporals. (My ancestor was promoted from private to eighth corporal shortly after mustering in, which I assume was the lowest rank in the guard.)

I'm getting to my question. I had noticed that there were sergeants and corporals in the other companies in the 14th too. I wondered if they could have those ranks and not be in the color guard without being in Company C. Then tonight I came across the death of a member of the color guard at Tupelo in 1864. He was a fifth corporal in Company D. Another man from the regiment's color guard was wounded "in the left thigh severely" in the same battle. (The Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers published in 1908 says he died in August of the wound to his RIGHT thigh.) He was an eighth corporal in Co. E.

I didn't count, but a search of the roster shows many corporals and sergeants throughout the regiment.

So--was it normal for the color guard to have members from various companies? And how big were the color guards, anyway?

Another question. My ancestor was promoted from eighth corporal to first sergeant. I have an idea of the duties (drilling others, carrying messages?), but would he still have been in the color guard?

Hope you all can shed some light on this for me.
 

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thomas aagaard

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#2
If we go by how things was suppose to be.
The volunteer regiment was made up of 10 companies.
Each company had 1 First sergeant, 4 sergeants and 8 corporals.
(and officers and privates)

The colorguard is not part of any company and the men still belong to their own companies in the paperwork, daily duty and where they sleep.

When the unit is in formation The colorguard is posted on the left of the right-center company and will be part of that company until the unit fall out again.

What company this is, depend on the seniority of the captain. So if there is a change in the captains the companies get a new position in the formation. (the most experienced was on the right flank, the 2nd most experiened on the left)

The 9 men for the colorguard was selected from across the regiment.
From the ordinary sergeants two was selected to carry the colors. (national flag and state flag)
And 7 corporals are selected for the colorguard.

They would stand in 3 ranks, unlike the rest of the regiment that was in two ranks.
(the reason is than when the regiment need to move forward, the front rank of the colorguard move a few paces infront of the line and the two other ranks then step up to preserve the two ranks.)

To look at your relative.
He became a corporal. This do not tell you that he was part of the colorguard.
His job is described as:
316. The duties of a corporal are simple, and depend for their successful performance mainly
upon his capacity to control and direct soldiers in the performance of their duty. They take
charge of the smaller details for fatigue and police duty in camp and garrison duty: their most
important duty is that of Corporal of the Guard. They frequently succeed to the responsibilities of
sergeant in his absence, and should therefore be familiar with his duties
.

The Guard mentioned is not the color guard, but when the men are doing guard duty around the camp or when in contact with the enemy. As Usual it is the corporals and sergeant that make sure everything work as it should.
When in combat he would stand in the line and fight like the privates. (unlike sergeants)

But if his diary tell you that he is a member of the colorguard, then that is what he would be doing when in the regiment is in formation. He would help protect the colors and if needed pick it up. And only shoot if to defend the colors.


When he was promoted to First Sergeant he jumped the rank of sergeant.
(sergeants would stand behind the company line and help keep the men in line... or carry the colors)

The job of a first sergeant was described as:
421. He has the immediate supervision of the company. He gets his orders from the captain or
officer commanding the company, and sees that they are performed in the company. He is, in
fact, the foreman; the men are the artisans. He lays out and superintends the details of the work
which the captain has directed to be executed.


So he ran the company most of the time. And he would not be part of a colorguard (anylonger).

Hope this help?

Note that all this is based on how things was suppose to be based on the drill books and regulations.
Things might have been done differently in that specific regiment. Like a 8th corporal being promoted to First sergeant... did they loose a lot of men in a battle just before this happened?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Messages
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Location
Reno, Nevada
#3
Hope this help?

Note that all this is based on how things was suppose to be based on the drill books and regulations.
Things might have been done differently in that specific regiment. Like a 8th corporal being promoted to First sergeant... did they loose a lot of men in a battle just before this happened?
Yes, this helps a lot! Thank you.

His company was always short of men. It started with only 50 in it. My ancestor's promotion was May 1, 1864, not immediately after a battle. According to the Iowa adjutant general's roster in 1908, Company C's original first sergeant had been promoted to first lieutenant in December 1863 and as far as I can tell no one else held the position of first sergeant until my ancestor was put in it.

Even as first sergeant, he would still go into battle, right?
 

ErnieMac

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#4
Yes, this helps a lot! Thank you.

His company was always short of men. It started with only 50 in it. My ancestor's promotion was May 1, 1864, not immediately after a battle. According to the Iowa adjutant general's roster in 1908, Company C's original first sergeant had been promoted to first lieutenant in December 1863 and as far as I can tell no one else held the position of first sergeant until my ancestor was put in it.

Even as first sergeant, he would still go into battle, right?
Yes he would. He would have been on the right side of the second line of his company's formation, directly behind his captain who was positioned on the right side of the front line. I've attached a copy (see link: http://michaelchardy.blogspot.com/2018/02/who-shot-jackson.html) of a sketch taken from Hardee's Tactics showing a regiment and company (at bottom) in battle formation.

plate01.gif
 



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