Color Guard - History

History

As armies became trained and adopted set formations, each regiment's ability to keep its formation was potentially critical to its, and therefore its army's, success. In the chaos of battle, not least due to the amount of dust and smoke on a battlefield, soldiers needed to be able to determine where their regiment was. Flags and banners have been used by many armies in battle to serve this purpose.

Regimental flags were generally awarded to a regiment by a head-of-State during a ceremony and Colors may be inscribed with battle honours or other symbols representing former achievements. They were therefore treated with reverence as they represented the honour and traditions of the regiment. The loss of a unit's flag was not only shameful, but losing this central point of reference could make the unit break up. So regiments tended to adopt Color guards, a detachment of experienced or élite soldiers, to protect their colors. As a result, the capture of an enemy's standard was considered as a great feat of arms.

Due to the advent of modern weapons, and subsequent changes in tactics, Colors are no longer used in battle, but continue to be carried by Color Guards at events of formal character.

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