Color Bearers, regardless of rank, i.e. Cpl. or Sgt., were not armed by tradition. Their mission was to keep the colors aloft, not fight.There were however, armed members in the Color Guard.Their job, to protect the Colors and the bearer. During the old days the rank of Color Sgt. was a place of honor and the bearers took it as a source of pride that they went into battle unarmed. In the British Army, which gave our military many traditions, the Color Sgt. was never armed, except with his badge of rank(an NCO's sword)This tradition passed over into the US military. Although today such things on the battlefield are unheard of, in the 19th century the Colors were a main focus as was the man bearing them. To require the color bearer to be armed would have insulted his sense courage.