Civil War Guide Flag, 2nd Maryland Infantry Regiment, USA



This is the original guide flag used by the 2nd Maryland Infantry Regiment. It is descended from the family of Major Andrew B. Brunner, Field Officer of the 2nd Maryland, who served from June 18, 1861 until his resignation February 16, 1863 from injuries received in service. Brunner died less than a year later; succumbing to his wounds. He is buried at Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore.

The 2d Maryland Volunteer Infantry Regiment entered service in Baltimore on June 1, 1861. During Major Brunner's tenure with the Regiment they were engaged in key battles at Second Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

The unit suffered its first major casualties at Second Bull Run when it engaged Stonewall Jackson's forces. It fought valiantly and was able to inflict serious casualties on the enemy. The 2nd Maryland continued to distinguish itself throughout the War, When they were mustered out in July, 1865 they left behind 226 total casualties, the second highest casualties of any Maryland Union unit.

Only 10% of the Union regiments were presented with "general guide" or flank marker flags. These flags were carried into battle by the "general guide sergeants" who were posted at each flank to assist field officers in maintaining a straight line of battle. Because the flags were made of silk, they wore out very easily from daily use and battle damage. Numbers were often painted on the silk and faded out rapidly. The fact the 2nd Maryland’s guide flag has an embroidered number indicates it was made to hold up throughout the War.

Flags have a major psychological impact in battle. This was definitely true of Civil War flags. There was nothing more disgraceful for a unit than to lose their flag. The loss of this flag could totally shatter a unit's morale. On the flip side, capturing an enemy flag was a huge morale boost for a unit. The Union often gave the Medal of Honor to men who captured a Confederate flag or saved their own flags.

An excellent example of the power of the flag to the soldier who fought under it can be found in Union General Joshua Chamberlain's touching description of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. :"Lastly, — reluctantly, with agony of expression, — they tenderly fold their flags, battle-worn and torn, blood-stained, heart-holding colors, and lay them down; some frenziedly rushing from the ranks, kneeling over them, clinging to them, pressing them to their lips with burning tears. And only the Flag of the Union greets the sky! "


The 2nd Maryland flag is double sided blue silk, 18 7/8" X 20 3/4", including a faded yellow 1 1/8" silk fringe around three sides. The hoist incorporates three 11" long, 1 1/16" wide darker blue silk ties. In the center of the flag is an exquisitely embroidered, 8" high, white silk numeral 2. The flag exhibits light fading from age, and is in overall sound condition. There are a few scattered cracks in the silk, most of which are in the top 4", along with one small, 1 1/2" X 1/4" hole at upper left. The flag has been professionally and archival mounted and framed.

This is one of only a handful of Civil War guide flags used by a gallant and important regiment that have survived. Some of these historic flags, still bearing the scars of battle, are in state archives or private institutions. Includes a Letter of Authentication from The Horse Soldier of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; one of the most pre-eminent Civil War artifact dealers in the country. I have located four guide flags with regimental provenance sold over the last ten years. Prices ranged between $14,000 to $56,000.