The Regimental Color of the 8th U.S. Infantry
Colonel Robert J. Dalessandro (Ret.), Julia Simon and Alan Bogan, U.S. Army Center of Military History
This colors of the 8th U.S. Infantry Regiment was presented to the West Point Museum by Major Milton Cogswell, an 1849 United States Military Academy graduate, who served in the 8th U.S. Infantry during the War with Mexico, 1846-1848.
Regimental Colors were carried into battle in the nineteenth century and the provenance of this flag places it in eight engagements during the War with Mexico. It was the first regimental flag to enter Mexico City during the war. Lieutenant James Longstreet, United States Military Academy 1842, the adjutant of the 8th Infantry Regiment, carried the colors at the storming of Churubusco on 20 August, 1847. These colors were planted on the battlements of Chapultepec Castle on 12-13 September, 1847 by Lieutenant George E. Pickett, United States Military Academy, 1846. Longstreet and Pickett became generals in the Confederate Army and played major roles in the American Civil War, including the legendary "Pickett's Charge" at Gettysburg on 3 July, 1863. The officers that served in the War with Mexico established the reputation of the professional officer corps and many went on to fame. Zachary Taylor and Ulysses S. Grant, both became presidents of the United States, and Taylor's protégé Jefferson Davis led the Confederate government.
Regiments of the United States Army traditionally carry two colors: a National Color and a Regimental Color. It was not until 1841 that the National Color of an infantry regiment was the United States flag—the "stars and stripes." The 8th Infantry flag with the national coat of arms (eagle device) was carried as the National Color before 1841, while the Regimental Color was simply a scroll with the regimental designation on a plain field. Colors prior to the Civil War were traditionally carried by lieutenants of the regiment. This flag is currently on display at the West Point Museum, West Point, New York. The West Point Museum exhibits the long and storied history of the United States Military Academy.
This U.S. 8th Infantry Regiment colors featured prominently in America's war with Mexico. James Longstreet, the famed Civil War Confederate general, carried the colors as a young lieutenant during the storming of Churubusco in 1847.
Detail of the U.S. 8th Infantry Regiment colors.