Old South Military Antiques

Burger and Brothers First National Guidon
Item #: OS-6501


The swallowtail Guidon shown here was used by the Army of Northern Virginia’s Cavalry Companies and just as the name implies, they were used to guide-on. When formed for battle, the cavalry was stretched out in a line running from left to right. At the center of the regiment, the battle flag would be displayed. At intervals up and down the line, company flag bearers would carry Guidons attached to lances. During the advance, it was essential that the troopers maintain alignment in order to maximize the shock of the charge. Each Guidon Flag bearer advanced in echelon, slightly behind the regimental standard. This allowed the troopers to maintain alignment with their comrades left and right even if the view was limited by smoke, dust or obstacles.

The First National pattern Guidon measures seventeen inches on the fly, by twelve inches on the hoist. The stars on this example, as with all of this pattern, are only on the left side. In William Albaugh’s, 1960 edition of Confederate Edged Weapons, he makes note of the fact that in his youth, this pattern was "relatively common in Richmond. All seen at that time were identical, having attached to the 8-foot ash staff, by means of three tacks, a small Stars and Bars Confederate flag which contained 11 four pointed stars. The flag was of the swallow-tailed guidon variety and very poorly made, the stars being only on the left side of the flag.” He also noted the size, "seventeen by twelve inches”. Albaugh did not know who made them; but, he referenced an 1896 dated receipt for a lance "taken at the fall of Richmond”.

I have in my possession, a copy of a January, 1862, bill from Burger and Brothers, charging the Confederate States of America, for 283 "Lances and Flags” at six dollars each. Undoubtedly there were many other shipments, but the invoices have not survived. It has been recently learned by Greg Biggs that Richmond’s most famous belles: Hettie, Jennie, and Constance Cary made and sold these guidons to Burger and Brothers for five dollars, who marked them up one dollar and resold them. These same ladies sewed the very first Confederate Battle Flag.

Very, very few of these have survived in such good condition and bright colors.


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