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PATTERN 1931 US ARMY GUIDON IDENTIFIED TO THE 127TH FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT, BATTERY C – FORMALLY THE 114TH CAVALRY REGIMENT, OF THE KANSAS NATIONAL GUARD – COMPLETE WITH A US ARMY GUIDON SLEEVE - A RARE SET IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:  This is a rare offering of an original Pattern 1931 U.S. Army Guidon identified to Battery C, 127TH Field Artillery Regiment, formally the 114TH Cavalry Regiment, of the Kansas National Guard.  This guidon dates from ca. 1940 when the regiment was transitioned from a mounted cavalry unit to field artillery as the U.S. Army prepared for our entry into World War Two.  The guidon is accompanied by an original OD green guidon sleeve. 


Dating back to the Militia Act of 1903, and the National Defense Acts of 1916 and 1920, the militia and National Guard units which had been maintained at the state level were reorganized under a federally administered and funded system which standardized the organization, staffing and training requirements of the state units.  As part of this reorganization process, the National Guard units were assigned unique regiment and division numbers which appear to have been allocated in blocks – so many to each branch of arms and then so many of each of those allocated to each state - which facilitated their eventual incorporation into the orders of battle when called into federal service.  For example, unlike the Civil War period where each state independently numbered their regiments – 1ST New Jersey Cavalry, 1ST New York Cavalry, etc. – under the new 20TH Century organization of the National Guard, each regiment and division was assigned a number unique in the whole of the United States Armed Forces. 

This system of unit numbering allows for this guidon to be specifically identified to the 127TH Field Artillery Regiment of the Kansas National Guard, whose origins as the 114TH Cavalry Regiment adds significantly to understanding the design of this guidon. 

Under the powers of the National Defense Act of 1920, the first troops of the 114th Cavalry Regiment were recruited during 1921 and 1922.  Their activities were eventually headquartered in Paola, Kansas and they continued in service as mounted cavalry through the 1930’s. 


In August of 1940, the US Army’s General Staff initiated a study to determine the army’s requirement for horse cavalry and the extent to which mechanization should be carried into the National Guard. The study concluded that although the need for horse cavalry remained, the quantity required was less than that of previous years, and that there was a deficiency in the number of mechanized reconnaissance units. On August 7, 1940, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau was directed to convert 7 cavalry regiments to horse-mechanized units as corps cavalry, and to develop plans for converting other cavalry units into organizations for which there was a need.  This directive resulted in the conversion of all units of the four National Guard cavalry divisions into units deemed more essential for national defense.  These plans were implemented in late September and early October of that year, and the allotment of those cavalry units was withdrawn effective November 1, 1940.  The four cavalry divisions were dissolved and were converted as follows:  the 17 cavalry regiments were converted into 7 horse-mechanized cavalry regiments, 7 field artillery regiments, 7 coast artillery regiments and separate battalions, and 1 antitank battalion. 

Pursuant to General Order No. 16, issued by the Adjutant General, State of Kansas, on
September 30, 1940, on October 1ST the 114TH Cavalry Regiment became the 127TH   Field Artillery Regiment, exchanging their horses for the 155mm Howitzer.  In December the regiment was mobilized for federal service with the 35TH Infantry Division.  At some point after its induction, the 127TH became a two-battalion regiment with Batteries A, B, and C in the 1ST Battalion and Batteries D, E, and F in the 2ND Battalion.  The 127TH Field Artillery Regiment was destined for the war in Europe, arriving in Normandy on July 7, 1944 where they were assigned to the area of St. Clair, France in support of the 30TH Infantry Division’s attack on St. Lo.  They served throughout the duration of the war in support of both the 30TH and 35TH Infantry Divisions.

The strong attachment that cavalry troopers had to their horses is well known, and the degree of resistance exhibited by the cavalry regiments to being dismounted in the face of the transition to a mechanized army is a matter of historical record.  It is easy to visualize that in some cases, the reaction of the troops who had to surrender their horses approached the fringes of open mutiny.  Nonetheless, with few exceptions the fully mechanized US Army thundered into the war, transported by the internal combustion engine, and the stables at the posts across the country became hauntingly empty and quiet. 

The extent and impact of this unsettling transition on the cavalrymen may very well explain why this Pattern 1931 Cavalry Guidon presents today with the numerals of an artillery regiment formed from a cavalry regiment in 1940, long after the unique design of artillery guidons had been established - yellow numerals, letters and crossed cannons on a red field.  

The practice of displaying totems, banners and flags to identify the leader of a unit on the battlefield and mark his position certainly predates written history.  It was from those displays of military heraldry that the guidon emerged in the U.S. Army and went on to become such an integral part of the individual unit’s identity and tradition.   

In its familiar form the guidon first appeared in 1834, when the newly formed 1ST Regiment of Dragoons was authorized a silk red-over-white guidon, with the letters "U.S." in white on the upper half and the company letter in red on the lower half.  It is believed the swallow tail design was incorporated so that the guidon would better catch the breeze, extending it to its full length on the fly, making the numerals and letters easier to read.   

In the years following the adoption of the red-over-white swallow tail design, there were some minor changes, but by 1841 the army had settled on the original design adopted in 1834.   

Early in the Civil War, on January 18, 1862, the U.S. Army issued General Order No. 4 directing "Guidons and camp colors will be made like the United States flag with stars and stripes." The dimensions were the same as prescribed in 1834, but the new design consisted of gold stars in two concentric circles with one star in each corner of the canton.  

This pattern of “National Ensign” guidon remained in use through the early Indian Wars era until the regulations published in 1885 ordered that the design of the guidon would revert back to the Pattern 1834, with the regimental number on the upper half and the letter of the company, troop, or battery on the lower half. 

As detailed in the description of the Pattern 1885 Guidon published by S.B. Holabird, Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army:

“Specifications for Cavalry Guidons”

     “Silk – To be of the best quality of banner silk.

     “Size – To be three (3) feet five )5 inches fly from the lance and two (2) feet three (3) inches on the lance; to be cut swallow-tailed fifteen (15) inches on the fork.

     “Design – Two (2) horizontal stripes, each one-half (½) the width of the flag, the upper to be red and the lower white.  The upper stripe to have on both sides, in the center, the number of the regiment in white silk, and the lower the letter of the troop in red silk.  The letter and number to be block-shaped, four and three fourths (4 ¾) inches high, and held in place by a border of needle-work embroidery three-sixteenths of an inch wide, of same color. 

     “Lance – To be one and one-fourth (1¼) inches in diameter and nine (9) feet long, including spear and ferrule.

     “Case or cover – To be of water-proof material, to protect the guidon when furled.

     “Workmanship – To conform to standard sample on file in the Quartermaster General’s Office.”   

In 1895, additional regulations were published – "Each troop of Cavalry will have a silken be used only in battle, campaign, or on occasions of ceremony”   The same regulation provided that “Each troop will also have a service guidon made of bunting or other suitable material” for daily use.   

Artillery guidons in the modern form were ordered in 1904, calling for a flag in the same swallow tail form and size as the cavalry guidon, featuring a solid red field with yellow crossed cannons centered on the field and yellow regiment numerals and battery letters arranged as on the cavalry guidon. 

In 1922, Army Regulation 129 abolished the requirement for silk guidons, and they were withdrawn from service while those made of bunting (finely woven wool) continued to be issued.  In 1931, Army Regulation 260-10 reduced the size of the guidons to 20 inches on the “hoist” (vertical measurement) and 27 ¾” on the “fly” (horizontal measurement).  In 1944, this same regulation added the battalion or squadron number between the crest of arms and the hoist edge.   

This chronology of the army’s guidon specifications serves to date this guidon to those in service between 1931 and 1944.  Conforming to the Pattern 1931, made of bunting - a wool material with a fine weave - and measuring 19 ½” on the hoist and 28 ½” on the fly, the dimensions of this guidon are well within the variances which would have been allowed in the manufacture of cloth items.  The numerals and letters are 3 ¼” high, reduced in size when the overall dimensions of the guidon were reduced in 1931 from those of the Pattern 1885.  

The issue of this cavalry pattern guidon to Battery C of the 127TH Field Artillery Regiment may well have been an act of appeasement.  Within the army, old traditions die hard.  As the horse cavalry saw itself fading into the historical record, perhaps a mutually satisfying acknowledgement of a history dating back to the first mounted dragoon regiments was agreed upon.  The use of a cavalry pattern guidon bearing the new field artillery regiment’s identifiers was an act of reconciliation that both the army and the regiment could embrace.  This guidon was produced by the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot.  It is regulation in every way, and the workmanship is indicative of having been made in their shops with the regimental numeral and battery letter as it presents here – certainly not something made at the unit level or by an individual.  There is no sign that the numerals or letter were ever altered or replaced, rather from all appearances, this is exactly how the guidon was originally made and issued.  This unique guidon may have been provided by the army in this form to allow the 127TH to acknowledge its origins as the 114TH Cavalry Regiment and maintain some sense of the heritage of that former unit.   

This guidon has survived in excellent condition, showing only very minor wear to the edge and tip of the lower corner of the swallow tail.  The bunting is otherwise very solid with some minor pin holes or snags, but no tattering or fraying and it is overall very clean, with only some very minor isolated spots of soiling.  The red field retains a bright vivid color with no fading and the white field shows only minor aging to a mellow ivory hue.  The letters and numerals are likewise in excellent condition, all retaining their hem lines fully intact.  The white numerals are bright and clean.  The red “C” has faded and apparently was made of a different red material than that used on the flag proper.  The fading is interesting evidence that this guidon had significant exposure sunlight, indicating it was carried for some time in service and was not just a souvenir or wall decoration.  The two “button-hole” leather tabs for mounting the guidon on the lance are present and intact, and they show minimal evidence of wear around the button holes indicating this guidon spent some time mounted on a lance and being carried.    

A real added value to this guidon is the presence of the full form, fully legible Philadelphia Depot, U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps Inspector’s tag which is sewn inside the lance pocket along the hoist.  The presence of this tag is significant confirmation of the originality of this guidon.   

This guidon is accompanied by an OD green cover sleeve, used when the guidon was furled.  The sleeve is in like new, unissued condition and is legibly ink stamped “US QUARTER MASTER PHIL DEPOT” and dated “1944”.   

Any surviving original U.S. Army Guidon is a rare artifact, particularly those which have some historic or unique context such as this example.  This Pattern 1931 Guidon and sleeve are a very nice set and they would display well together as a notable highlight in a number of different collection settings.   (0418)  $1150



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