ColGrdHs
Color Guard

THE MARYLAND DIVISION
COLOR GUARD

By

Bob Lyons

 

The roots of the Maryland Division Color Guard go back to 1988 when members of the Col. Harry W. Gilmor Camp first met and drilled on the grounds of the St. Paulís School for Boys on Falls Road. The first members of the color guard were: Steve Bochmiller, Elliott Cummings, Tom Foster, Mike Lijewski, Bob Lyons, Bill Sampson, John Scott, and Mike Williams.

At the time of the formation Steve Bochmiller and Bob Lyons were the only re-enactors and the only ones who were experienced in 1860s military drill, so they shared the duties of training the new color guard. Long hours were spent marching in formation across the lawns of St. Paulís School for Boys, finally the little band of volunteers became a full-fledged color guard.

 

In the "Guidelines" sent out by Tom Foster in 1988, the original name of the color guard was listed as "The Baltimore Greys" but that name never seemed to catch on, almost immediately it became known as the "Col. Harry W. Gilmor Camp Color Guard."

The first members wore either a reproduction of the Confederate uniform their ancestor might have worn or the uniform of their reenacting unit. It was always the policy of the color guard that authentic uniforms from all branches of Confederate service were acceptable to march in the ranks of the color guard. The only other requirement was that you be a member in good standing of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

 

The first commander and founder of the color guard was Tom Foster. Dr. Foster, a past commander of the Col. Harry W. Gilmor Camp, wore the rank and uniform of a captain. Foster commanded the color guard from 1988 through 1989. In 1990 Bob Lyons was nominated and elected to be the new commander of the color guard. The rank of "color sergeant" then became the highest rank within the color guard, other members of the color guard became "color corporals". SCV members who wore officer uniforms and rank would continue to be welcome and march with the color guard, but wouldnít carry a flag because of their officer status.

 

When Bob Lyons was elected color sergeant in 1990 the schedule of events almost immediately began to expand. To meet the demand of increased activity, the color guard began to welcome within its ranks uniformed SCV volunteers from not only other camps in the Maryland Division but from everywhere across the United States. The color guard was rapidly becoming, not only the representative of the Col. Harry W. Gilmor Camp, but was an unofficial ambassador of the Maryland SCV and the Maryland Division. To accommodate members of other camps marching in our ranks and the increased activity at state and national levels, the color guard simply became, for the occasion, either the "Maryland Division Color Guard" or the "Maryland SCV Color Guard". But it wasnít until 1999 that the color guard officially became the "Maryland Division Color Guard".

The flags and leather accouterments of the color guard, except for one flag, are the property of the Col. Harry W. Gilmor Camp. The one exception is the Maryland Division SCV flag, which is owned by the Maryland Division but has always been carried by the color guard on a staff owned by the Gilmor Camp. The staffís are all wooden, nine feet in length with brass fittings including the finials. The other nine flags carried by the color guard are as follows: modern U.S, modern Maryland, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Nationals, Bonnie Blue, blue Maryland Infantry flag, infantry Battle flag, and cavalry Battle flag (Gilmor Camp flag). From time to time SCV members from other camps will fall-in carrying their camps' colors. The only requirement is that their colors and poles correspond with those of the color guard.

 

What determines whether or not the color guard participates in an event? There is only one question we ask: "Does the ceremony, parade, or historical event honor our Confederate ancestors?" This has been the only question or criteria the color guard has ever set for whether or not it would participation in a certain ceremony or event. If the answer was "yes", and if there wasnít a conflict with another event, then the color guard would generally participate.

Throughout its years of service the color guard has built an outstanding reputation for its high degree of professionalism and authenticity. Because of this excellent reputation, the color guard has had the honor of being invited to participate in many historically significant events. A few of the most noted events were: dedication of the Gen. Longstreet Monument at Gettysburg; dedication of the Maryland Monument at Gettysburg; dedication of the new U.S. Civil War Postage Stamps at Gettysburg; dedication of the President Street Station Museum in Baltimore; dedications of the Gen. Garland Monument and historical plaques at South Mountain and Gathland State Park; dedication of the Memorial Wall honoring Confederate dead at Warrenton, Virginia; dedication of new tombstones for Confederate soldiers in Frederick; rededication of the Confederate monument in the Arlington National Cemetery; rededication of the Confederate monument in Ellicott City; funeral service to bury the remains of a Confederate soldier at Gettysburg combined with the reunion of the last two surviving widows of the War Between the States; burial of Stonewall Jacksonís horse at VMI in Lexington, Virginia; ceremonies at Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Ft. Delaware; special ceremony to honor Gen. Robert E. Lee on his birthday at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia; premier of the movie "Gettysburg"; and finally, the honor of being the official color guard of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for the 1996 Centennial Convention of the SCV in Richmond, Virginia.

 

Over the years the color guard has worked in close cooperation with a number of groups, most notable being the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Union Veterans, but our longest and closest association has been with the 1st Virginia Volunteers, Company D and CSA Field Music. Of the hundreds of events the color guard has participated in over the years, both groups have faithfully supported the color guard on countless occasions.

 

Whenever called, the SCVís Maryland Division Color Guard proudly continues to serve. Always with the objective of honoring the Confederate soldier and our Confederate heritage by flying the Confederate flags with the highest public visibility, but at the same time always flying those flags with the utmost respect, honor and dignity possible. May our Southern flags fly on forever!

 

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Copyright © 1999 Sons of Confederate Veterans
THE COL. H.W.GILMOR CAMP, No. 1388

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