This is the original cavalry guidon flown by Company M of the Cal Battalion who fought under command of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry. During their early involvement in the Civil War, they were occupied in pursuit of Confederate ranger John Mosby in the Shenendoah Valley. However, by 1864 the Californians were fighting under Grant and the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Sheridan.
Company M was comprised largely of golden state volunteers whose enlistment bounties paid for their transportation to Massachusetts where they mustered into service. This guidon is in exquisite original condition. Its silk remains fully intact with only a few minor separations. The oil-painted laurel wreath surrounds a block U.S. with a star device and letter C circumscribing a block M in the center. The guidon’s overall dimensions are 30” X 40”. All of its gold fringe is in near perfect condition.
The guidon was one of four flags presented to the Cal Battalion, companies A, B, & C in March of 1863 and D Company in April when they departed San Francisco for the battlefields on the east coast. The presenter was Daniel Norcross, a local masonic regalia supplier. When the four companies arrived in Boston, they were re-designated E, F, L, and M with Company C receiving the "M" designation. The C and M letters are plainly visible in the guidon's center.
Another of the four guidons, flown by Company E is held in the Civil War collection at West Point. It is identical in dimension and pattern, but is absent its gold fringe. The location of the other two flags is lost to history.
For more information on the Californians in the war, visit the excellent website hosted by Earl Robinson at http://2mass.omnica.com/