The 189 streamers attached to the Army Flag staff denote campaigns fought by the Army throughout our nations history. Each streamer (2 ¾ inches wide and 4 feet long) is embroidered with the designation of a campaign and the year(s) in which it occurred. The colors derive from the campaign ribbon authorized for service in that particular war.
The concept of campaign streamers came to prominence in the Civil War when Army organizations embroidered the names of battles on their organizational colors. This was discontinued in 1890, when units were authorized to place silver bands, engraved with the names of battles, around the staffs of their organizational colors. When AEF units in World War I were unable to obtain silver bands, General Pershing authorized the use of small ribbons bearing the names of the World War I operations. In 1921 all color-bearing Army organizations were authorized to use the large campaign streamers currently displayed.
"The Army Flag and Its Streamers" was originally prepared in August 1964 by the Office of the Chief of Military History, in cooperation with the Office of the Chief of Information, and the U.S. Army Exhibit Unit, to provide general summaries of each of the campaigns displayed on the Army flag. It was subsequently updated by the Center of Military History to add the campaigns from Vietnam. This study covered named campaigns only and did not include the campaigns that were sometimes awarded to individual units for war service in engagements outside the limitations of the named campaigns (i.e., Virginia 1863). It only addressed those campaigns authorized for display on the Army flag.
N.B. Work has begun to update this listing to include the campaigns fought since Vietnam. They will be added here as they are completed.