Campaign Streamers: How Ohio Army National Guard Units DisplayTheirCivil War Battle Credits

By arohmiller, posted on July 31st, 2013.
Filed under: News
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Written By: Sfc. Joshua Mann, Ohio Army National Guard

There are few things in which Soldiers take greater pride in than their unit’s colors. These flags represent the honor and integrity of the unit they represent. They symbolize the glories of the past, stand guard over the present, and provide inspiration for the future. The role of these banners has shifted over the years. Once, providing a critical role in command and control in linear tactics, the evolution of battlefield technology has shifted the purpose of flags to a ceremonial role in the creation of unit identity, cohesion, and esprit de corps. However, their continued presence at the center of a formation symbolically represents their former position in the heat of battle.

The obverse side of the 2nd Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry Regiments colors showing the many battles and skirmishes the regiment participated in during the war. (Ohio Battle Flag Collection)

The obverse side of the 2nd Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry Regiments colors showing the many battles and skirmishes the regiment participated in during the war. (Ohio Battle Flag Collection)

The system by which units are recognized and display their battle credits has also evolved over time. Following the August 1861 battle of Wilson’s Creek, near Springfield, Missouri, Major General John C. Fremont ordered the word “Springfield” to be emblazoned on the colors of the units involved in the fighting. In early 1862, the War Department instructed all regiments and batteries to inscribe on their colors or guidons the names of battles in which they performed meritoriously. Although the orders for inscribing the names of battles on flags only pertained to the national color, existing flags clearly show the practice of inscribing the names on both the Stars and Stripes and regimental colors.

This practice continued until 1890, when the War Department directed that the names of battles be engraved on silver rings and placed on the staffs of regimental colors. Some regiments claimed so many battles that it became difficult to find room on the flags to add additional honors.

The national flag of the 13th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment showing the battles the regiment participated in during the war.

The national flag of the 13th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment showing the battles the regiment participated in during the war.

Following World War I a series of quick changes impacted the issue of silver bands. With units rapidly departing for the United States, General John J. Pershing directed each organization entitled to battle credit to receive a ribbon with the name of the battle printed on it. On August 18, 1919 the War Department directed that the names be embroidered on the regimental colors themselves due to a shortage of silver.

The new plan cluttered flags, so in June 1920 the department directed each regimental color to bear streamers in the colors of the campaign medal ribbon for each war in which the regiment had fought. The campaigns were determined from the list of official campaigns of the U.S. Army that was published the previous October and was the first such list in Army history.

For its service during Operation Iraqi Freedom, from December 2003 to April 2005, the 216th Engineer Battalion, out of Woodlawn, Ohio, was awarded a campaign streamer. Lt. Col. Tom Caldwell (left), commander of the 216th Engineer Battalion, and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Shepherd, battalion command sergeant major, affix a campaign streamer to the battalion color June 15, 2011 at the Camp Ravenna Joint Maneuver Training Center in northeast Ohio. (Ohio National Guard photo by Spc. Brian Johnson)

For its service during Operation Iraqi Freedom, from December 2003 to April 2005, the 216th Engineer Battalion, out of Woodlawn, Ohio, was awarded a campaign streamer. Lt. Col. Tom Caldwell (left), commander of the 216th Engineer Battalion, and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Shepherd, battalion command sergeant major, affix a campaign streamer to the battalion color June 15, 2011 at the Camp Ravenna Joint Maneuver Training Center in northeast Ohio. (Ohio National Guard photo by Spc. Brian Johnson)

Today, there are 187 campaign streamers authorized for Army units and range from campaigns of the Revolution to Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to campaign streamers, unit award streamers are displayed by organizations to indicate the unit has been awarded a unit decoration, such as the Presidential Unit Citation or Valorous Unit Award.

There are currently six organizations in the Ohio Army National Guard that perpetuate Civil War lineage and concurrently display Civil War campaign streamers. In addition to named campaigns, such as Gettysburg or Chickamauga, credit for smaller battles or skirmishes are grouped into streamers with geographical names and the associated date, such as Kentucky 1862 and Georgia 1864. The following list shows what units display Civil War campaign streams and what credited unit is perpetuated in their lineage.

112th Engineer Battalion (Company A, 1st Ohio Volunteer Infantry): Bull Run, Shiloh, Murfreesborough, Chickamauga, Atlanta, Kentucky 1862, Tennessee 1863, Tennessee 1864.

Lt. Col. Craig Baker, then commander of the 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment, standing to the left of flag, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Watson, uncase the battalion colors showing the units Civil War campaign streamers during a transfer of authority ceremony held at Camp Eggers, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan in December 2011.  The 134th Field Artillery Regiment holds the distinction of displaying the most streamers, 39, of all Ohio Army National Guard units. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Orrin Batiste)

Lt. Col. Craig Baker, then commander of the 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment, standing to the left of flag, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Watson, uncase the battalion colors showing the units Civil War campaign streamers during a transfer of authority ceremony held at Camp Eggers, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan in December 2011. The 134th Field Artillery Regiment holds the distinction of displaying the most streamers, 39, of all Ohio Army National Guard units. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Orrin Batiste)

134th Field Artillery Regiment (1st Ohio Light Artillery): Shiloh, Valley, Manassas, Fredericksburg, Murfreesborough, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Franklin, Nashville, Kentucky 1862, Mississippi 1862, Tennessee 1862, Tennessee 1863, Tennessee 1864, Virginia 1862, Georgia 1864.

145th Armored Regiment and 107th Cavalry Regiment (7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry): Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, Virginia 1862, Georgia 1864.

148th Infantry Regiment (3rd and 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry): Antietam, Fredericksburg, Murfreesborough, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg.

174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (5th and 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry): Shiloh, Antietam, Murfressborough, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Virginia 1861, Kentucky 1862, Mississippi 1862.

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