|Description and Photograph||
The swallowtail Guidon shown below 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.
This particular example was owned by William Albaugh and is shown on page 130 of his Confederate Arms. Mr. Albaugh did not provide any specific history about the flag; “Clarks Reg of N. Carolina Troops” is written on the top corner of the page showing the flag and “Attributed to Clarks Regiment of N. Carolina Troops” is written on the back of the framed flag. Both are written in an unknown hand. The flag is easily identifiable as the flag on page 130 because of the loss of material in the fly.
For historical reasons the frame has been left exactly as it was when it was photographed more than sixty years ago.
The flag’s history traces from the Cary sisters, to the Burger Brothers, through the Confederate cavalry and is lost until William Albaugh has it in the 1950s. All in all a remarkable history and it still remains in excellent (for these flags) condition with much better than average color and it comes with the book in which it is published.