Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Red Hospital Flag

I have been busy working on David's uniform and, with characteristic procrastination once again attempting to thwart me, have been busy as well trying to get all of us decently attired for a reenactment next weekend. I   am in dire need of a new corset and cage and Judah needs a new outfit. There are several small projects I need to accomplish as well - a bit of mending, retrimming and refitting as clothes from the larger children get passed down to the smaller ones. 

I sewed this flag for David quite a while ago but only recently put in the eyelets to attach the ties. Although it was rainy this morning I was able to take it outside to finally see how it looks. It is hard to get a good picture of a flag when it is lying in all its flat largeness on a table or folded up and put away. I am really happy with how it looks and am excited to see David use it for his impression this year. 

It is made of several long strips of red wool bunting, which is a lightweight, thick-threaded, tightly woven material. I had never worked with it before but it was, as most wools are, very easy to work with. The construction was extremely simple - sew the strips together, fell the seams and hem all around the edge of finished 4' x 6' flag. A header of cotton canvas was attached to one end and three eyelets worked with hemp thread for ties. 

Plain red flags (among several other kinds) were used by the Confederate army to designate field hospitals or aid stations. David prefers to portray an aid station, which was an area wounded men could come to for treatment before being sent on to the larger field hospital and then, if needed, to an even larger general hospital. 

The Manual of Military Surgery for the Confederate States Army, published in 1863, spoke of the use of the red flag: 

"When the troops deploy or form for action, the 

surgeons, with their assistants and pack-horses, move 

a short distance to the rear, out of the range of the 

shot, and they establish there the field infirmary. It 

would be convenient if some house coul
d be used for 

this temporary hospital. 

Where this can not be had, the shade of trees or the 

shelter of a hill-side will answer the temporary 

wants of the surgeon. If the body of troops about 

entering into battle is a large one, with an extended 

line, several of these points should be selected and 

marked by a suitable red flag, which designates the 

spot where those slightly wounded can seek surgical 

aid. "

Red flags had also been used prior to the War to designate hospitals in both the U.S. Regular Army and some European armies. In Echoes of Glory, Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, an original red hospital flag can be seen on p. 276. Like the one I made for David, it appears to be pieced of several long strips of material. 

I'm looking forward to seeing the flag in action this year. It attaches to the pole with leather ties. The leather "grips" the wood so the flag does not slip down. I think it will set off David's field hospital/aid station quite nicely. 

Back to intense sewing! 

1 comment:

  1. That is a really interesting bit of history about the red flags. I bet it will be very satisfying to see it flying at an event. :-) I think it looks great!


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