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Keep the Flag to the Front - Part 6

Eighth  Kansas Infantry regimental flag.


Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the jubilee!
Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free!
So we sang the chorus from Atlanta to the Sea,
While we were marching through Georgia.

—"Marching Through Georgia"

The Eighth Kansas Infantry went farther east than any other Kansas regiment, finding itself fighting in northern Georgia.

It was at Chickamauga in Georgia that the Eighth Kansas had a very bloody day. It was particularly deadly for the color guard carrying the regimental flag (top, right). Of the nine members of the color guard that day, four were killed, three wounded, and only two went unharmed.

Map of battles fought by the Eighth Kansas Infantry.Col. John A. Martin of the Eighth recalled the battle in 1886 for a Memorial Day address in Wichita:

"Selected, as the color-guard always is, from different companies, and with a carefulness inspired by regimental pride, the color-bearer and his guard of honor formed a striking group—he tall, powerful, manly, grave and silent; they boyish, beardless, laughing, chattering, careless—but one and all of them daring and gallant beyond what was common even in those heroic years.

Brigade flag, Twentieth Army Corps, First Division, Third Brigade.   The Eighth Kansas was a regiment in this brigade.

"Within an hour after the battle began, Rovohl. . .was mortally wounded. When he fell his comrades indulged in fierce dispute as to which of them was entitled to carry the flag. Several claimed it, but Wendell, affirming his seniority in rank as a corporal, secured it. Two of them proposed carrying Rovohl to the surgeons in the rear, but he refused all help, saying, 'My life is nothing-keep the flag to the front.'"

Tree stump with embedded shell from Chickamauga.

Col. Martin became brigade commander after his predecessor, Col. Hans Heg of Wisconsin, was killed at Chickamauga.

Many souvenirs were taken from Civil War battlefields by soldiers and visitors. This tree stump (bottom, left) with an embedded artillery shell was taken as a souvenir from Chickamauga. The metal plate mounted to the top of the stump reads:

From Chickamauga
Battle Fought September 19 and 20—1863
Federal Losses—16336


Keep the Flag to the Front: Battle Flags of Kansas is an online exhibit by the Kansas Museum of History.

  1. The Civil War, 1861-1865
  2. Rally 'Round the Flag
  3. Stories From the Front Lines
  4. The "Colored" Soldiers
  5. On the Border
  6. Chickamauga
  7. The Confederacy
  8. Save the Flags!
  9. Glossary and Explanation of Flag Types

Contact us at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov