Color Guard, Co. K
honor of escorting a regiment's colors was given to individuals selected
from the companies of the regiment as the color bearers and color guard.
The color bearers were usually sergeants and the color guard were corporals.
This select squad was placed in the ranks on the left of the color company,
and the color company was placed just to the right of the regiments
center when it was in a line of battle. This arrangement placed the colors
at the regiments center. The color squad was composed of a national
color bearer and a regimental color bearer with seven color guards. If
the regiment had only one color, the color squad would consist of a bearer
and eight guards. The color guard was a target of enemy fire and it took
brave men to volunteer for this job. Capturing the colors was a battle
trophy: loosing your colors was a dishonor. The casualties in the guard
were always high. When the bearer was unable to go on, another member
of the guard would move forward to rescue the flag. The flag of the regiment
served as a rallying point for the men and often indicated the location
of its leaders. The flag and its bearer usually lead the regiment into
battle, therefore offering themselves as the first targets to the enemy.
You can see pictures of Maine regimental colors at the state archives