The Regimental Stand of Colors
History of the 7th Infantry Colors
Nowhere is a regiment's pride more visible than in its colors. The colors of a regiment served several functions. Not only were they sources of pride to the individual soldier, but they also served as rallying points and guides during the dense smoke of combat.
In keeping with the precedent set during the American Revolution, infantry regiments did not carry the stars and stripes, known as the National Flag, nor were they authorized to do so. Instead, each regiment carried two flags, which were designated the "National" and "Regimental" Colors, respectively.
The War of 1812 Standard and Color
The current stand of colors the recreated 7th USI uses for the 1812 period were reproduced based on the assistance and research of several different individuals. I initially began my search for information on the 1808 pattern colors by contacting noted military historian, Mr. James Kochan. Mr. Kochan graciously shared his research and notes related to the 7th’s 1808 pattern national standard which indicated it was still in store in April of 1812 and was painted by William Barrett, Barrett having also painted the 4th and 5th’s national colors. At the same time I was in contact with Mr. Kochan, an article was published in Military Collector and Historian written by Robert Malcomson, which gave details of the 4th’s national standard captured by the 41st Regiment of Foot at Fort Detroit in August of 1812. Encouraged by the photographs of the 4th’s national standard in Malcomson’s article, I contacted a friend who grew up near Cardiff Castle in Wales where the original color was on display, and had him take close-up color photos to work from. Combining all of the information from Mr. Kochan, the Malcomson article and the photos provided by Dave Robinson I set out to reproduce the 1808 pattern national standard of the 7th US Infantry. The original national standard was painted on a blue field, the federal eagle grasping an olive branch and a bundle of arrows above a silvery blue scroll and gold wreath bearing the regimental designation in silver, all beneath a constellation of seventeen silver stars representing the United States. The flag itself is hand sewn silk and the device was painted in oils and employs gold and silver leafing where applicable. The result is a stunningly beautiful work of art that follows the regulations for the ‘08 pattern national standard and closely matches the 4th’s existing national standard on display in Cardiff Castle, Wales.
After completing the national standard I began working on the regimental color. Unfortunately the original regimental no longer exists, but we do have a 20th century reproduction based on the original as well as sketches to work from. As with the national standard, I used notes on the regimental provided by Mr. Kochan, as well as information provided in the Malcomson article and set out to reproduce an ‘08 pattern regimental color. The original regimental color was painted on a buff field and consisted of a pale blue scroll with border and wreath in gold and the regimental designation in silver. The regimental is hand sewn buff colored silk with the device painted in oils with gold and silver leafed accents. To truly appreciate the regimental color It must be viewed unfurled in with the sun gleaming on the gold leafed scroll and wreath, it’s simply a stunning sight!
1812 Regimental Colors
(Flag is buff but photographs as a gray)
I want to thank all of those individuals that contributed to the reproduction of this stand of colors. Without the help and generosity of so many, the creation of these colors would never have been possible and for that I am indebted to you! It is my hope that these colors reflect the pride and inspiration embodied in the original colors carried by the regiment and that they inspire the men and women of the recreated 7th USLHA.
Lt. Scott McMahon
1841 Pattern Mexican War Color (blue silk)
By the time the U.S. entered the war with Mexico, in 1846, the infantry had adopted a new set of flags for each Regiment. This time, however, the blue banner with the national emblem was designated as the Regimental Colors and the blue field above the Eagle was emblazoned with no less than 26 stars, representing the then-current number of states in the Union. Other changes included a ribbon grasped in the the Eagle's beak with the words "E. Pluribus Unum" and the ribbon below the Eagle changed to red.
This Color is a copy of the one carried by the Regiment throughout the Mexican War. From its gallant defense at Fort Brown in May of 1846 to the Heights of Cerro Gordo, and the Valley of Mexico, this Color helped inspire past Cottonbalers in service to their country.
The original of this color no longer exists. In 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, the Regiment was stationed in New Mexico. In a disastrous engagement with a smaller Confederate Force, the Union Forces surrendered. Participating in the engagement were the majority of the Regiment and its Colors. Rather than surrender them, they were cut into small pieces, and distributed to the officers and men. It would not be until the Battles of 1863 that the Regiment would receive new Colors.
For the first time ever, the Regiments were authorized to carry a banner resembling our National Flag. There was a noticeable difference, however; although the blue field had the required minimum of 26 stars, they were painted on in silver and the Regimental Designation was also painted in silver of the fourth red stripe. This is a copy of the National Color which the Regiment destroyed rather than allow its capture. This is the Color quartermaster Sgt. Thomas Henry raised over the heights of Cerro Gordo in Mexico. Though not supposed to be carried in battle, there were strict Regulations against it, many Regiments, including the Seventh, brought these colors with them to Mexico. At the Siege of Fort Texas, when the large garrison flag could not be raised, a smaller staff was rigged inside the earthworks, and this silk National Standard was raised in its place
National Standard 1841
The artist for 1808 Standard and Color is Scott McMahon. The 1841 Pattern Standard and Color were painted by Lee Basore.