U.S. 103rd Cavalry, Troop B Service Guidon Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) unit.
This well-worn Model 1885, woolen, service guidon was used by Troop B, of the 103d Cavalry, a Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) unit. They were organized in 1914 from pre-existing elements of the PNG and were mustered into Federal service on 6 July 1916 for duty in Texas along the Mexican Border until released from Federal service on 21 January 1917; only to be mobilized in August of that year for service during WWI.
Since there was little need for mounted cavalry during the First World War, the 103d Cavalry, now a component of the 28th Division, was in 1917 reorganized on into the 103d Trench Mortar Battery; the 103d Engineers and Train; 103d Field. Signals; 103d Train Headquarters and Military Police; 103d Supply Train; 103d Ammunition Train; and the 103d Sanitary Train.
They were demobilized in 1919 at Camp Dix, New Jersey, resuming their peacetime role as a Pennsylvania National Guard component under the 1st Cavalry designation (Pennsylvania). In 1921 they reacquired their old designation, and would remain the 103d Cavalry until 1941 when the unit was broken up to form the 166th and 190th Field Artillery Battalions.
Wool guidons of this type were introduced for cavalry units in the US Army in 1890 as Service Guidons. Originally intended as a drill and field replacement for the formal silk guidon that was reintroduced 5 years earlier, the wool guidons proved serviceable and soon replaced silk as a practical expedient; although silk guidons would continue to be officially listed until 1921. This guidon bears all the hallmarks of red over white guidons issued before WWI; the letters and numerals are stitched with zig-zags and the sleeve is untagged.
This guidon was formerly in the estate of John Penman Wood whose military career in Pennsylvania spanned some 28 years (1898-1926), during which time he rose from private - in the prestigious 2nd City Troop of Philadelphia Cavalry - to Brigadier General in the Pennsylvania National Guard. General Wood's career posted him with many units and commands. He was associated with the 103d on several occasions: during their service along the Mexican border, immediately before they were mustered out of federal service and as the brigadier commanding the 52nd Cavalry Brigade; of which the 103d was a component part. It is possible that he acquired this guidon during any of these one tours of service; however, given the construction details of the guidon itself, it is highly likely that this guidon dates from the period 1916 to 1918, the period of the 103d's Mexican Border service when Wood was with the headquarters of the 103rd Engineers. Doubtless he retained this guidon as a memento of this service.
After 1918, then Colonel Woods was attached to the Quartermaster Corps in Washington until being discharged from federal service in 1919. From 1921 until his retirement in 1926 he was a general officer in the PNG.
Provenance: Acquired at auction in 2010 from Freeman's Auctioneers & Appraisers, Philadelphia, PA.