"Colors & Courage"
A new series of original paintings by Ron Lesser
The Colors are an army's . . . soul.
Long before corps badges and insignias, the colors emerged as emblems of the volunteer soldier's pride in his cause. From regimental banners to national flags it was the "Colors' that, in good and bad times, symbolized the fight and the sacrifice. Winning battle honors for their Colors remained a strong incentive for superior performance by troops of both sides throughout the war.
Flags were carried into battle by its color-guard. Members of the color-guard were excused from all duty -- they did not act as guards, camp police, kitchen help, or foragers -- but they led the regiments into every storm of shot and shell. The casualty rate was higher for color guard than any other soldier in battle. The mortality rate is characterized by a journal entry of Austin C. Sterns of Company K, 13th Massachusetts . . .
"While halting a few moments waiting for the troops to cross on a pontoon bridge, Captain Hovey ordered me to report to the color sergeant as a corporal on the color guard; the boys of K crowded around, some to shake hands, and all to say 'Good by,' for they said 'You are gone up now.' At Antietam, all the color guard but one was either killed or wounded, and judging from that, they thought my turn had come.
In a battle it was a great honor to take the Colors of the enemy, and it was also a great dishonor to lose the Colors. The Colors drew the hottest fire and some of the most desperate fighting took place at the Colors. It was a post of great danger and great honor.
For the fist time, the sacrifice of these brave men is brought to life in a series of original oil paintings by the renowned Civil War artist, Ron Lesser.
Each painting captures that final moment when duty, honor, & courage to the Colors are all that remain. . . “The flag, the flag . . . my life for my country and my flag!”
Special credit is due to Michael Dreese for the descriptions associated with this series of paintings, specifically:
Confederate Text courtesy of Michael Dreese, "This Flag Never Goes Down - 40 Stories of Confederate Battle Flags and Color-Bearers at Gettysburg", Thomas Publications.
Union Text courtesy of Michael Dreese, "Never Desert the Old Flag - 50 Stories of Union Battle Flags and Color-Bearers at Gettysburg", Thomas Publications.
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