Flags were a very important part of a Civil War regiment and were proudly carried on the battlefield for unit identification. While the standard color for an infantry regiment was a flag 6 by 6 1/2 feet (too large to be carried by men on horseback), cavalry regiments relied on smaller flags called guidons. A guidon was carried on a wooden staff called a lance, with a brass lance head attached. Being selected to carry the colors was considered a great honor; however, color bearers suffered a high casualty rate since enemy fire was directed at them.
Made of silk, this guidon was carried by Company H, 1st Arkansas Union Cavalry. The 1st Arkansas, recruited primarily in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, acquired a well-earned reputation in the region as effective anti-guerrilla fighters.
Image Courtesy Wilsonâ€™s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 00062