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Army - 2nd Cavalry Regiment (U.S.)

Last modified: 2015-04-04 by rick wyatt
Keywords: us army | cavalry | dragoons |
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The regimental standard for most if not all the period mentioned would have been blue with yellow fringe, with a representation of the U.S. coat of arms on the center and the regimental title on a red scroll beneath the eagle. The exact design of the eagle, shield, and scroll changed several times during the period. I'll have to check the date, but at about the end of the period Mr. Schurmann mentioned, the field of the standard was changed to yellow. Again, I'll find the details in my notes and send them on, as well as the rules for use of the standard. I'll also look for a picture in Gherardi Davis's early 20th century history of U.S. Army colors and standards.
Joe McMillan, 23 October 2000

There was a renumbering in the Civil War period. The following is from Mary Lee Stubbs and Stanley Russell Connor, Army Lineage Series: Armor-Cavalry, Pt. I (Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1969):

1st Cavalry (1st Regiment of Dragoons): constituted 2 March 1833 as U.S. Regiment of Dragoons; organized 4 March 1833; redesignated 15 May 1836 as 1st Regiment of Dragoons; redesignated 3 August 1861 as 1st Cavalry.

2nd Armored Cavalry (Second Dragoons): constituted 23 May 1836 as 2nd Regiment of Dragoons; redesignated 5 March 1843 as 2nd Regiment of Riflemen and concurrently dismounted; remounted and redesignated 4 April 1844 as 2nd Regiment of Dragoons; redesignated 3 August 1861 as 2nd Cavalry.

3rd Armored Cavalry (Brave Rifles): [sorry, I neglected to copy the full lineage, but] constituted as Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, redesignated 3 August 1861 as 3rd Cavalry.

4th Cavalry: constituted 3 March 1855 as 1st Cavalry; organized 26 March 1855; redesignated 3 August 1861 as 4th Cavalry.

5th Cavalry (Black Knights): constituted 3 March 1855 as 2nd Cavalry; organized 28 May 1855; redesignated 3 August 1861 as 5th Cavalry.

6th Cavalry (The Fighting Sixth): constituted 5 May 1861 as 3rd Cavalry; organized 18 June 1861; redesignated 3 August 1861 as 6th Cavalry
This is why the coats of arms of both the 1st and 2nd Cavalry have orange fields. It was the 1st and 2nd Cavalries (former 1st and 2nd Dragoons) who refused to swith to yellow trim during the Civil War.

The dragoon standard (not color) was blue. BTW, the dragoon regiments of the War of 1812 bear no lineal relationship to those raised in 1833 and 1836, but the standard of the Light Dragoons in 1812 was also blue, as photographed in Gherardi Davis, Colors of the United States Army, 1789-1912 (New York, 1912). Dragoon/Cavalry regiments continued to carry blue standards until shifting to yellow in 1887.

Artillery regimental colors were yellow until 1886.

Actually, the Infantry branch color (i.e., on uniforms) was originally white, as were the first infantry _regimental_ colors (flags) prescribed by regulations. Before that, some regiments had carried yellow regimental colors. The blue colors (flags) carried by infantry units were the _national_ colors until 1841, when the S&S became the national color for infantry and the blue flag with the COA (formerly the national color) became the regimental color.

Joe McMillan, 23 October 2000

2nd Dragoons

[2nd Dragoons circa 1836]
2nd Regt. Dragoons circa 1836
image by Joe McMillan, 23 October 2000
[2nd Dragoons circa 1861]
2nd Cavalry Regt. 1861
image by Joe McMillan, 23 October 2000

These images of 2nd Dragoons/2nd Cavalry standards from ca. 1836 and ca. 1861, scanned from Gherardi Davis, The Colors of the United States Army (1912).

The 2nd Dragoons would have been issued one standard and one guidon per company when raised in 1836. The standard was blue with the U.S. coat of arms in color and the regimental designation on a red scroll. As prescribed in the 1834 General Regulations for the Army, the standard was silk, 27 inches hoist by 29 inches fly, with a yellow silk fringe. The standard was carried on a 9-foot lance tipped with a spearhead of essentially the same design used by the U.S. Army today. The image I'm sending from Davis's book (unfortunately a black and white photo) is described by him as "very deep blue." He says the standard could be as old as 1836, based on its design, but there is no record of its issue. The number of stars (normally a clue in dating regimental flags of this period) is uncertain as some have disappeared (see note). Davis says the standard of the 1st Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (now 3rd Armored Cavalry) is identical, except for color, so I'm sending a black and white scan of that as well, since the 2nd Dragoons' standard is so tattered.

For the Civil War period, see the color scan of a watercolor by Davis of a flag then (1912) in storage at the Army depot in Philadelphia. The inscription on the scroll is SECOND / REGT U.S. / CAVALRY, with the T smaller and elevated. Dimensions at this time were the same as in 1834. This basic design was used until 1887.

The 1834 regulations described company guidons for cavalry as silk, 27 by 41 inches, with a swallowtail. From the hoist to the fork of the swallowtail was 15 inches. The guidon was divided horizontally, red over white. By regulation, the letters U.S. appeared in white on the upper half and the letter of the company on the lower. The guidon was carried on a nine-foot lance with arrowhead finial.

According to Randy Steffen's The Horse Soldiers, 1776-1943 (Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1977-79), vol. I, pp. 109 and 114, most guidons issued from the raising of the 2nd Dragoons onward were inscribed not only as prescribed in regulations but with the regimental number as well. He illustrates an example inscribed U.S. / A Compy on two lines in white Roman lettering on the red half and 2nd DRAGOONS in two lines in red Roman lettering on the white half.

From January 1862, guidons were in the same dimensions as before but in the form of the Stars and Stripes, with the stars painted in gold in two concentric circles and one star in each corner of the canton. In 1863, a general order directed that "there shall be inscribed upon the colors or guidons of all regiments and batteries in the service of the United States the names of the battles in which they have borne a meritorious part." An 1878 order clarified that guidons would only bear the battle honors won by the company on separate service. An 1881 order directed that the company letter be placed in yellow on one of the white stripes.

The red over white guidon was revived in 1885.

Joe McMillan, 23 October 2000

Note: It says, "The number of stars (normally a clue in dating regimental flags of this period) is uncertain as some have disappeared."

During the time stated 1834 – 1836 the number of the stars were 24, until July 4, 1836. Counting the stars shown on the black and white of the tattered standard, from what possibly is the center, you get 9 or 10 on the top line of stars. On the second line of stars 7 then on the bottom 3, or a total of 5. That is 18 ½ to 20 stars on just one half of the flag. As of 1861 there were 34 stars; 1863, 35 stars; 1865, 36 stars; 1867, 37 stars; 1877, 38 stars and 1890, 43 stars. The possible minimum number of stars would be 37 making the flag circa 1867 - 1877. The maximum of possible stars would be 40 but there were no 40 star flags so 38 stars is the maximum number of stars. Placing it no later than 1890.
Depending upon the documentation for the colored rendition it might be that each is opposite sides of the same flag. (however it shows 13 stars which may have been a variation or 13 stars at some point became standard) … just conjecturing.
Roger W Hancock, 11 May 2009

Going by the pattern that can be seen, and assuming that the rows are symmetrical, it looks like 15-11-5, 15-11-5-1, 16-12-6 or 16-12-6-2 (note what could be a star right next to the tear at the very bottom of the top section). This would give 31 (impossible), 32 (impossible), 34 (1861-3) or 36 (1865-7). It might conceivably be 17-13-7 (37; 1867-77) or 17-13-7-3 (impossible), but the curve of the arc formed by the stars makes this seem unlikely in either case.
As such, I'd say most likely it dates from between 1861 and 1867, or possibly the ten years that followed that period - but certainly no later than 1877.
James Dignan, 12 May 2009

2nd Cavalry (1860)

[2nd Cavalry Regiment] image by Randy Young, 23 October 2004

From the book "Flags to Color, Washington to Lincoln," page 32, and is listed as "Second Cavalry Reg't., c.1860."

Quoted from the book -
"Colors: Dark blue field of flag; brown eagle with white head and tail; yellow beak and tail; red ribbons with yellow borders and lettering; yellow stars and shield border; blue shield top over seven white and six red stripes; green branch; brown arrows with yellow points and feathers."

"On the eve of the Civil War, American troops were still carrying flags with variations of the national coat of arms as their cavalry colors. Later the cavalry color would be changed to red with yellow for the artillery, blue for the infantry, etc."

Randy Young, 23 October 2004

For those that do not know the history of this famous US Army command, it has been called "The regiment that the stars fell upon," due to the huge number of generals (16), both United State of America and Confederate States of America (mostly CSA), that came from its ranks for service in the American Civil War.

These include (with their 2nd US Cavalry ranks in parentheses) Robert E. Lee CSA (Lt. Col.), Albert Sidney Johnston CSA (Col.), Edmund Kirby Smith CSA (Captain), John Bell Hood CSA (Lt.), William J. Hardee CSA (Major), Earl Van Dorn CSA (captain), Fitzhugh Lee CSA (Lt.), Charles Field CSA (Lt.), Nathan Evans CSA (captain), George Cosby CSA (Lt.), James Major CSA (Lt.), George Thomas USA (Major), George Stoneman USA (Captain), Kenner Garrard USA (Lt.), Richard Johnson USA (Captain), and Innis Palmer USA (captain).

The Civil War era 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry has the distinction that no other US regiment, volunteer or professional, can claim, however. From its ranks came two United States presidents - Rutherford B. Hayes (the colonel of the regiment), and William McKinley. The regiment also contributed a Civil War army commander, William S. Rosecrans, and a future US Senator, Stanley Matthews.
Greg Biggs, 25 October 2004

Just to clarify, for regimental lineage buffs, this is not the same unit as the modern 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment. As is already discussed, the 2d Cavalry of 1860 (raised in 1855) became the 5th Cavalry in 1861. At that time the 1st and 2d Dragoons and the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen became the 1st, 2d, and 3d Cavalry respectively. Not flag related, as all would have carried national standards and guidons of the same basic design, the differences being only in the inscriptions and in slightly different artistic interpretations of the coat of arms on the standard, depending on when it was issued.

This flag was a "standard" since colors at this time were large (72 x 78 inch/183 x 198 cm) and carried by foot units, two colors--one national, one regimental--per regiment. Standards were small (27 x 29 inch/69 x 74 cm) and carried by mounted units, one standard per regiment. Both the regimental color for infantry and the standard for cavalry (including dragoons) were blue with the U.S. coat of arms.

Joe McMillan

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