“Those Green Flags” – The Irish Brigade’s Battlefield Banners

In our series “Battlefield Banners: Flags of the American Civil War” we’ve been exploring aspects of flag creation and the stories behind regimental flags. Today’s flag combines heraldic traditions from European heritage into an American setting. Carried by Irish immigrants, this flag made a statement of national origin, even as the soldiers fought for their adopted country.

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“Guard of the Daughters” – The Flag of the Powhatan Guards (Co. E, 4th Virginia Cavalry)

Once upon a time, you’ll see an unforgettable flag in a history museum. It might be in tatters from fierce fights; it might be preserved in pristine condition. Maybe it’s a story about the flag or the unit that will intrigue you. Or maybe it’s something on the flag it’s self.

Flags illustrate ideas. One particular flag of the American Civil War – carried by Company E of the 4th Virginia Cavalry – is unforgettable to me for it’s unique design and Virginian message of defending beloved families. Continue reading

The Firemen Go To War: 11th New York Regiment & Their Flag

Firefighting in New York City (c. 1869)

Firefighting in New York City (c. 1869)

Ever read the book Fighting The Flames by R.M. Ballantyne? It’s set in 19th Century England and follows the adventures, dangers, and triumphs of firemen in London. (You should read the book.) Today, we’re not really talking about the history of fire-fighting or chapters in English History…

We’re really talking about flags. But today’s flag is directly connected to fire-fighters in 19th Century America. Once upon a time, firemen from New York City were recruited to defend the Union in the fires of war…and the flag they took to the battlefields was a symbol of the best of their character and determination. Continue reading

“Thus Always To Tyrants” – 1st Virginia Brigade Flag, 1861

Flags. Simple cloth with so much meaning. In the last year, there have been fierce debates about certain flags from the Civil War era; to re-hash those arguments and re-fight those battles is not the purpose of the June’s Historical Theme of the Month on Gazette665 –
“Battlefield Banners: Flags of the American Civil War.” Instead of focusing on the “national” flags, I thought it would a positive experience to learn about some of the colors carried by certain units – regiments, brigades, etc. Continue reading