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Civil War The Color Bearer Tradition The War Between the States was the heyday of American battleflags and their bearers With unusualhistorical accuracy many stirring battle paintings show the colors and their intrepid bearers in the forefront of the fray or as a rallying point in a retreat The colors of a Civil War regiment embodied its honor and the men chosen to bear them made up an elite Tall muscular men were preferred because holding aloft a large heavy banner to keep it visible through battle smoke and at a distance demanded physical strength Courage was likewise required to carry a flag into combat as the colors drew lead like a magnet South Carolinas Palmetto Sharpshooters for example lost 10 out of 11 of its bearers and color guard at the Battle of Seven Pines the flag passing through four hands without touching the ground Birth and Early Life in Charleston Born in Charleston in 1824 Charles Edmiston and his twin sister Ellen Ann were the third son and second daughter respectively of newspaper editor Joseph Whilden and his wife Elizabeth Gilbert Whilden The births of two more sons Richard Furman in 1826 and William Gilbert in 1828 would complete the family making seven children in all Young Charles roots ran deep into the soil of the lowcountry His Whilden ancestors had settled in the Charleston area in the 1690s and an ancestor on his mothers side the Rev William Screven had arrived in South Carolina even earlier establishing the First Baptist Church of Charleston in 1683 today the oldest church in the Southern Baptist Convention Like many Southerners who came of age in the late antebellum period Charles Whilden took pride in his ancestors role in the American Revolution especially his grandfather Joseph Whilden who at 18 had run away from his familys plantation in Christ Church Parish to join the forces under Brigadier General Francis Swamp Fox Marion
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