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=>Continental Marine Color Guard & Fife and Drum Corps
||Continental Marine Color
Guard & Fife and Drum Corps
Follow the "Chapter Photos" link to the left to see many photographs of the color guard
We Form Up
Events and Awards
Color Guard Traditions
Yankee Doodle / The World Turned Upside Down
Flag used on the Captured HMS Serapis
We Form Up
The Continental Marine Color Guard started with Jim Emerson's vision. He
had seen a handsome Revolutionary militia officer's uniform made by a compatriot's
wife. She had used a Simplicity pattern issued in 1976 for the Bicentennial.
Rather than outfitting a color guard in commercially available costumes
he envisioned creating an historically accurate uniform. Since Jim was
a former Marine his choice fell on that branch of service. He ordered special
woolen cloth from Scotland. Pewter buttons, canteens, hats and other accouterments
came from the East Coast. And so, in 1992 and 1993, the Chapter Clothier
General was busily employed in manufacturing the great coats and breeches.
She had to develop her own patterns for the different sizes involved. Others
helped in the tedious job of sewing on buttons (with dental floss) and
Jim recruited active duty Marines to fill the uniforms. The color guard
first appeared at the Fall Board of Manager's meeting November 1993 in
Costa Mesa. We next participated at the Massing of the Colors in February
1994. Then, accompanied by an extra-ordinary fife and drum corps of about 15 musicians,
we took the First Place trophy in our category at the Huntington Beach
Parade. Since then we have been busy participating in numerous patriotic
and commemorative events.
A color guard without music is like a silent movie - something to look at
but hardly exciting. We add the resonnant sound of the rope tension drums
and the shrill sound of the fifes to produce a moving experience.
We now recruit color guard members primarily from among the Chapter
members and applicants. However, we welcome participation from anybody.
Events and Awards
We participate in parades, commemorations, church services, and concerts.
The Color Guard over the years has won many awards for its performances.
Color Guard Traditions
Before the 20th century, military colors were carried covered except for
ceremonies or when in sight of the enemy. A unit's colors provided
battlefield recognition for both friend and foe. These were always
the soul and reputation of the unit. Each regiment had two flags:
the national color and a regimental flag. To ensure that the men
knew the flag of their own regiment the two flags were paraded before them
during reviews and other ceremonies. From this practice developed
our modern color guard.
Following British custom, American infantry first had a junior officer
(called an Ensign) to carry and guard the regimental colors. Since
each company had an Ensign and there were eight companies, the ensigns
had to take turns guarding the flags. Later, the color guards were
selected from among the strongest and bravest soldiers. So the task
was performed by enlisted men instead of officers. They wore the
same uniform as other troops. [Top]
In a line of flags (such as a color guard marching down the street) the
U.S. flag must be on the right. Only this flag has an eagle finial, and
the eagle should face forward. Other flags go on the left in precedence
of other nations (in alphabetical order), states, and organizations.
No other flag may be larger or higher than the U.S. flag. These other
flags have spear head or ball finials. The salute to the reviewing official
of a parade is performed by dipping the organizational flag (never the
U.S. flag!) while holding "eyes right." In an auditorium or similar place
the U.S. flag is posted to the speaker's right.
The actual flag code is embodied in the United States Code under
Title 4 Chapter 1: "The Flag." This can be found online at:
Each company was authorized a drummer and a fifer. In addition to
these sixteen a drum major and a fife major provided the leadership of
the musicians. Field musicians wore regimental colors with the colors reversed,
so as to be more visible to their officers. If the soldiers wore
a coat of green trimmed with buff, then the musicians wore buff trimmed
with green. The ability to recognize and obey commands communicated
by drum was one of the skills of a soldier. In combat, because of the noise,
confusion, and limited visibility created by gunfire and clouds of smoke,
musicians were a vital link in field communications between officers and
men. In garrison, musicians played to set the pace of march or the routine
of the day. [Top]
Yankee Doodle / The World Turned
"Yankee Doodle" is the most familiar fife tune, but its source has been
the subject of much speculation. The authoritative reference is Oscar Sonneck's
Report originally published in 1909 and republished by Dover Books.
An enormous number of sets of verses has been associated with the tune.
The most popular tune during the Revolution was the hymn "Chester" by William
Billings. "The World Turned Upside Down" is often said to be the tune to
which the British army marched out of Yorktown. However the evidence for
this is nonexistent. Three completely different tunes and words have been
advocated as the "real thing." We play one of these - it is a fine tune
even if it was never played on 19 October 1781. [Top]
Flag used on the Captured HMS
This is the flag used on board the captured British ship Serapis
in 1779 by Captain John Paul Jones. This ship was captured following the
famous sea battle between the Serapis and the Bonhomme Richard
in which the latter's flag staff was blown away; the British Captain asked
if Jones had struck his colors; and Jones replied "Struck, Sir? I have
not yet begun to fight!" The Bonhomme Richard was so badly damaged
that it sank with its colors flying. After putting into the Dutch port
of Texel for refitting, the British authorities in the Netherlands demanded
Jones be arrested as a pirate since he flew no known flag. The Dutch replied
that they would consult their archives. Sometime between then and a few
days later when they replied to the British that they had evidence in their
files that the flag used on the Serapis was a recognized flag and
that Jones would be allowed to refit, a painting of this flag (and that
of the Alliance) was made. Besides the unconventional use of blue stripes
as well as white and red, if you examine the painting closely you will
see there are 12 eight pointed stars and one seven pointed star on the
flag. It is also nearly square.
Dave Martucc, 6 December 1997
from The Flags Of The World Web Site, with permission
Updated 8 March 2016