Men At Arms: Flags of the American Civil War (2) Union Osprey Books

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The regimental or battery set of colours was more than simply a unit designation, issued for the ease of a commander in identifying his units in the field. It was the very symbol of the regiment; it was its heart, the thing that drew its members together. As such it was fiercely defended in action, where it flew in the centre of the line, drawing enemy fire upon its carriers. Each regiment received its colours in one of its first formal ceremonies, which itself was almost an initiation into the world of the soldier. In camp, the regimental colours flew over the unit headquarters as a guide post to members and outsiders alike. In combat, it was drawn into the very centre of action, where it was fiercely defended. Few things were more disgraceful than losing one's colours in battle, and extreme sacrifices were often made to save them. Philip Katcher examines the Union flags of the American Civil War complemented by numerous illustrations, including eight full page colour plates by Rick Scollins