Civil War Flags

1st Maryland at Culp's Hill
Battle flags was a term used for the flags carried by Civil War regiments. Both armies used flags, which they also referred to as colors, to locate their troops on the battlefield, in camp, and while on the march. Battle flags were used to guide soldiers in battle. Wherever the flags went, the soldiers followed. Flags led the charge or led the retreat. A regiment's flag was carried by a color sergeant who was the central man in the color guard. A color guard was composed of six corporals whose job was to protect the color sergeants and the flags of the regiment. The regiment's flag was a great source of pride in each regiment and to lose the flag in battle was a great disgrace. The capture of an opponent's flag was, in turn, a great honor. While infantry regiments had their flags, there were also special flags made for headquarters, the artillery, cavalry, and even the quartermaster and engineers- almost every unit had one! Columns of soldiers marching toward Gettysburg were easily identified by the colorful flags that each unit carried, most having the name of the regiment painted on them.

Confederate regiments usually carried one flag of a particular design depending upon the army they served in. The Army of Northern Virginia battleflag was made of heavy cotton or wool in the shape of a red square with a St. Andrews cross of blue stripes and 13 white stars. The field was usually outlined in white cotton. The flags were marked with the number and state initials of the regiment. Some regiments even went so far as to put the names of battles in which they participated in on their flags, which they called battle honors. More battle honors on the flag meant more prestige for the regiment. Very few of Lee's regiments carried flags from their home state or flags of another design. This standard flag helped indetify friend from foe in teh thick of battle. Confederate armies in the west and deep south had flags with different designs. A common Confederate battle flag seen in the western army was made of blue wool with a white sphere in the center.

11th PA Reserves
Union regiments in The Army of the Potomac were issued two flags, a national flag and a regimental flag. The regimental flag was made of blue silk with a painted eagle and banner on both sides that included the number and state of the regiment. Some regiments, including those from Pennsylvania, carried specially made flags that included the state coat of arms in the blue field and regimental designations painted in gold on the stripes. Smaller flags or guidons were used to designate the flanks or ends of each regiment. Because the flags were made of silk, they wore out very easily from daily use and battle damage. The numbers and stars were painted on the silk and often wore or faded out very rapidly. Worn flags were sometimes replaced and the old flags retired to the states for safe keeping. Some of these old flags, still bearing the scars of battle, survive today in state archives and halls of history.

Battle flag of the 28th North Carolina Infantry

This flag is a true veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was captured by Union troops on July 3 during "Pickett's Charge". Today it resides in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.

(photo courtesy of Museum of the Confederacy)

The first flag of the 11th Pennsylvania Reserves

The regiment was officially designated the 40th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, but was also called the 11th Pennsylvania Reserves, a regiment of the "Pennsylvania Reserve Corps". This flag is in the Pennsylvania state capitol in Harrisburg.

(photo from Dr. Richard Sauers, Advance the Colors!, Pennsylvania Civil War Battle Flags , Capitol Preservation Committee, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA, 1987)



Kids Zone Exhibits
Battle of Gettysburg
Civil War State Battle Maps
Summary of the Civil War
Civil War Cooking
Civil War Exhibits
Women in the War

American Civil War Young Reader Book Titles
Underground Railroad
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad is the retelling of a man's recollections of his first experience helping an escaped slave. The book brings the underground railroad down to the level primary students can comprehend. This book makes for wonderful discussions regarding overcoming one's fears, going against the norm and doing what you believe to be morally correct.
Kindle Available

The Glory Cloak: A Novel of Louisa May Alcott and Clara Barton
From childhood, Susan Gray and her cousin Louisa May Alcott have shared a safe, insular world of outdoor adventures and grand amateur theater -- a world that begins to evaporate with the outbreak of the Civil War. Frustrated with sewing uniforms and wrapping bandages, the two women journey to Washington, D.C.'s Union Hospital to volunteer as nurses.

Clara Barton Founder of the American Red Cross
Young Clara Barton is shy and lonely in her early days at boarding school. She is snubbed by the other girls because she doesn't know how to talk to them. But when she gets an opportunity to assist the local doctor, her shyness disappears, and Clara begins to discover her true calling as a nurse.
Kindle Available

Civil War Days: Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes
Dozens of projects and activities that will take you back to the days of the American Civil War Travel back to 1862 and spend a year with the Wheelers, an African American family in New York City, and the Parkhursts, a white family in Charleston, South Carolina, Eleven-year-old Emily Parkhurst and twelve-year-old Timothy Wheeler are eager to share the fun, adventure, and hard work of their daily lives. Along the way, they'll show you how to play the games they play and make the toys and crafts they make.
Kindle Available

Civil War on Sunday
Mary Pope Osborne's tremendously popular Magic Tree House series launches into a new realm, as Jack and Annie are challenged to save Camelot. Young readers will effortlessly learn the basics of Civil War history, while losing themselves in another gripping tale that has turned many a nonreader into a bookworm. (Ages 5 to 8)

Clara Barton: Spirit of the American Red Cross
Ready To Read - Level Three
Clara Barton was very shy and sensitive, and not always sure of herself. But her fighting spirit and desire to help others drove her to become one of the world's most famous humanitarians. Learn all about the life of the woman who formed the American Red Cross.
Kindle Available
Lizzie Stanton
You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?
Grade 3-6. Fritz applies her gift for creating engaging, thorough historical literature to a larger-than-life historical figure. Stanton was a radical among radicals, and this objective depiction of her life and times, as well as her work for women's rights, makes readers feel invested in her struggle. An appealing, full-page black-and-white drawing illustrates each chapter. For students who need a biography, this title should fly off the shelves with a minimum of booktalking. And it is so lively that it is equally suitable for leisure reading.?

Eye Witness Civil War
Eyewitness Civil War includes everything from the issues that divided the country, to the battles that shaped the conflict, to the birth of the reunited states. Rich, full-color photographs of rare documents, powerful weapons, and priceless artifacts plus stunning images of legendary commanders, unsung heroes, and memorable heroines

American Civil War DVD Movie Titles


National Park Service
Gettysburg National Military Park
97 Taneytown Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325