Robert E. Wyllie.

Orders, decorations and insignia, military and civil; with the history and romance of their origin and a full description of each online

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eagle on one side and the British lion on the other, is
emblematic of this service.

The /// Corps during the St. Mihiel offensive was on the
Meuse, making preparations for the forthcoming Meuse-
Argonne drive, which it opened with the 33d, 8oth, and
4th Divisions in the line and the 3d in reserve. It was
the right wing of the operation, the 33d being the extreme
right of the movement along the Meuse for the first few

In the reorganization after the Armistice the III Corps
consisted of the 2d, 32 d, and 42 d Divisions and was sta-
tioned in the occupied German territory.

The IV Corps at St. Mihiel consisted of the ist, 42d, and
89th Divisions, with the 3d in reserve. It was the left
wing of the attack from the east side of the salient. The
89th was next to the I Corps, on the right, while the ist
was the left flank of the movement, making contact with
the attack from the west side the second day.

During the Meuse- Argonne drive the IV Corps held the
St. Mihiel sector, but with different divisions.

In the reorganization after the Armistice the IV Corps
consisted of the ist, 3d, and 4th Divisions and was sta-
tioned in the occupied German territory.

The V Corps at St. Mihiel consisted of the 4th, 26th, and
one French colonial division. It was the left wing, attack-
ing from the west side of the saUent. The 4th Division
was on the extreme left, the pivot of that flank, and the


9th corps

2d corps school















26th on the right, making contact with the ist Division
from the other side of the saHent on the second day.

In the Meuse-Argonne the V Corps commenced the
attack with the 79th, 37th, and 91st Divisions in the Hne
and the 32d in reserve. It formed the centre, having the
III Corps on its right and the I Corps on its left.

In the reorganization after the Armistice the V Corps
consisted of the 26th, 29th, and 82d Divisions.

The VI Corps did not participate in the fighting. After
the Armistice it consisted of the 7th, 28th, and 92 d Divisions
and was engaged in salvage work on the battlefields.

The VII Corps was organized to form part of the Third
Army and consisted of the 5th, 89th, and 90th Divisions,
being stationed in Luxembourg as a reserve for the troops
in the occupied German territory.

The VIII Corps in the reorganization after the Armistice
consisted of the 6th, 77th, and 8ist Divisions.

The IX Corps consisted of the 33d and 35th Divisions
and was engaged in salvage work on the battlefields.

Corps Schools. Schools were organized in the different
corps, the insignia being the same for all, except the appro-
priate change in the numeral.

The American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia consisted
of the 27th and 31st Infantry, Ambulance Co. No. 4,
Field Hospital Co. No. 4, one telegraph company and
some supply units. It went to Siberia in the late summer
of 19 1 8, returning in 1920. The insignia shows the Sibe-
rian bear, with the initial "S," all enclosed in a shrapnel.

Before America entered the war there were several
ambulance companies of Americans in the French army;


(©rberiEf, Becorationsf, anb Snie^ignia

these were all taken into our army, forming the Ambulance
Service, which adopted the well-known Gallic rooster as
its insignia, representing its former service with the French.

The Advance Section, Service of Supply, was situated near
the front and took the Lorraine cross for its insignia.

The insignia of the Tank Corps is emblematic of the
fact that tanks combine the functions of cavalry, artillery,
and infantry, the yellow being the cavalry colour, red
artillery, and blue infantry.

The fleur-de-lis of the Bourbon kings was taken as the
insignia of troops stationed in the Paris District.

The insignia of the Liaison Service is taken from the
French General Staff insignia, with slight changes. The
m^embers of this Service formed the connecting link be-
tween the headquarters of our forces and those of the
French, British, and Belgians.

Considerable sarcasm has been used when referring to the
insignia of the Postal Express, a greyhound at full speed.
The same insignia, but with the greyhound in silver instead
of white, was adopted for the couriers which connected the
War Department in Washington with General Head-
quarters in France; this was the only shoulder insignia
adopted by the War Department during the war, and its
origin is due to the carrying of a small silver greyhound
by the King's messengers of England (who perform the
same functions as our overseas couriers), for whom it is an
open sesame when desiring quick transportation.

The insignia of the Army Artillery School was never
approved by Headquarters. The head is of Minerva, the
goddess of wisdom.


The Expedition to North Russia consisted of the 339th
Infantry, a battaHon of the 310th Engineers, the 337th
Ambulance Company, the 337th Field Hospital, the
167th and 1 68th companies of the Transportation Corps.
The Infantry arrived in Russia in August, 19 18, the
other units at varying times up to April, 1919. The ex-
pedition was withdrawn in June, 1919, returning to the
United States.

The expedition co-operated with the forces of the Allies
in their operations against the Bolshevist troops and lost
109 killed in action and 305 wounded. The maximum
strength of the expedition was 5630 on June i, 1919.

Camp Pontanezen was at Brest, through which the
majority of the A. E. F. passed on their way home. The
insignia represents the duck boards necessitated by the
mud at Brest.

Before America entered the war a number of Americans
were in the French motor transport service; all were later
taken into the United States Army, but a number were
left serving with the French, constituting the Reserve
Mallet, so named after the commanding officer, Captain
Mallet, of the French Army.

The Thirteenth Engineers was a heavy railroad regiment
and operated around Verdun.

The official colours of the Chemical Warfare Service are
cobalt blue and golden yellow, and were selected because
they are the colours of the American Chemical Society.
The shoulder insignia carries these colours on a shield.

The Central Records Office was the clearing-house in the
A. E. F. for the service records of all the men.


The chameleon was most appropriately adopted as the
symbol of the Camouflage Corps.

The Railway Artillery Reserve consisted of the very
heavy guns on railroad mounts which were used during all
the major operations. The insignia shows a mythical
bird, called an "oozlefinch," standing on a rail, with an
epi (curved section of railroad track) from which the gims
were fired, above. This insignia was never approved by

A Railhead is the point where the standard gauge rails
end near the front ; from there all supplies are taken to the
front line by narrow-gauge railroads or by divisional trucks
or wagons.

A Regulating Station is the point on a railroad where
supplies, coming in bulk from the main depots in the rear,
are made up for specific divisions and other units, and
transhipped to the railhead.

The insignia for these two are identical, except that the
border for railheads is yellow, while for regulating stations
it is red.

General Headquarters was at Chatmiont. This insignia
was selected by General Pershing personally.

The Service oj Supply. Both name and insignia are

The Expedition to Italy consisted of the 332d Infantry,
the 331st Field Hospital, and fourteen Ambulance sections.
This force took part in the battle of Vittorio-Veneto. The
insignia was the Lion of St. Mark, Venice, in gold on a
rectangle of crimson. One paw of the lion rests on a tablet
inscribed with the number "332."

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The United States Army

THE old army had a very poetical legend to explain the
origin and meaning of our rank insignia for officers.
They were wont to say that when a young man was
commissioned as a second lieutenant he entered the forest
in the lowest position with the universe above him, the
forest symbolizing the regiment. In due course he gained
one step in the ladder of progress, mounting on the lowest
bar of the fence, symbolized by one bar on the shoulder.
His next promotion was to Captain in which position he
was on the top of the fence to oversee everything that
happened in his immediate vicinity. After that he be-
came a field officer, and needing a better vantage point
climbed into an oak tree which increased the extent of his
vision, but still left him in touch with his captains on the
fences. He then mounted the silver poplar, the tallest
tree in the forest, and from there to the eagle which flies
above the forest to oversee everything therein. Finally
he took his place among the stars which shed their light
on all the forests alike.

This is pretty sentiment but unfortunately it has no
historical basis, our present system was not the result of a
16 241

0xtitvi, Becorationsf, anb SnflJignia

careful study at any one time, it simply grew like Topsy,
each step being forced by the conditions which existed,
and each time the action taken was that which would make
the least disturbance of what we already had. One hun-
dred and thirty-seven years were required for our system
to reach its present growth, in fact the history of our rank
insignia is coterminous with our history as a nation.

In olden times there was no insignia of rank in the mod-
em sense, the differences were shown by changes or marked
distinctions in the uniforms worn. When the Revolution-
ary War commenced our troops had no uniforms and great
difficulty was experienced in getting them. They were
clothed in any garments they could procure, and as an
order of 1775 states "many inconveniences (arose) from
not being able to distinguish the commissioned officers
from the privates," consequently "some badges of dis-
tinction' ' were ordered. For the Commander-in-Chief this
was "a light blue ribband across his breast, between his
coat and waistcoat" ; for a Major General a purple ribbon,
and for a Brigadier General a pink ribbon, while aides wore
a green ribbon. Field officers were ordered to provide
themselves with red or pink cockades for their hats, cap-
tains with yellow or buff cockades, and lieutenants with
cockades of green.

Such were our first ' ' badges of distinction. ' ' The length
of the fringe on the epaulette, the kind and size of the
plimie or cockade, and the amount of embroidery on the uni-
form all helped to denote rank in the early days of our army.

In 1780 Major Generals were ordered to wear "two
epaulettes with two stars on each," while Brigadier Gen-


SnsJignia of Eanfe

erals had one star, and later when the rank of Lieutenant
General was established for the Commander-in-Chief,
Washington, three stars were prescribed for him. This
was the commencement of our present system of rank
insignia. Ever since that time those three grades have been
so marked.

In 1 82 1 the chevron was adopted as a means for denot-
ing rank, not only for non-commissioned officers but also
for captains and lieutenants, captains wearing one chev-
ron above the elbow, lieutenants one below. This was
abolished in 1832 for the officers, and we then acquired
another of our present devices, the colonel's eagle.

At this time and for many years thereafter all officers
wore epaulettes ; for the infantry they were silver, all others
had gold epaulettes. In order that the rank devices would
be clearly discernible they were of the opposite colour,
that is, the colonel's eagle was gold in the infantry because
it was placed on a silver epaulette, all other colonels had
silver eagles because their epaulettes were gold. The
stars of generals have always been silver as their epaulettes
were always gold.

In 1836 the shoulder strap, which was so characteristic
of the American officer before the World War, was adopted
to replace the epaulette for field duty only. It had a
border of gold or silver according to the arm of service,
corresponding to the epaulette, and the interior was cloth
in the colour of the facings. On this cloth was placed the
rank insignia and we then acquired our remaining devices,
the leaves and bars, but the colours of these were not yet
fixed, the leaf of the lieutenant colonel and the bars of the


©rtetiBJ, ©ecorationiB;, antr SnsJignia

junior officers were one colour, the leaf of the major was
the opposite, all depending on the colour of the border.

In 1 85 1 the characteristic silver of the infantry was
abolished, all epaulettes and shoulder-strap borders there-
after being of gold. This enabled the colour of the rank
insignia to be the same for all arms. On the epaulettes
all insignia were silver; however no devices were placed on
the epaulettes of the major and the second lieutenant, the
length and size of the fringe showing the difference very
clearly. On the shoulder straps all officers down to and
including the lieutenant colonel had silver insignia; from
the major down they were gold.

In 1872 epaulettes were abolished for regimental officers,
their place being taken by shoulder knots, and as these
knots had no fringe it necessitated some insignia for the
major to distinguish him from the second lieutenant, so it
was very natural to use the gold leaf which had denoted the
major on the shoulder straps for the previous twenty-one
years. The apparent precedence of silver over gold was
thus not the result of deliberate intent, but arose from the
desire to avoid unnecessary changes. In the same year
the bars of the junior officers on the shoulder straps were
changed from gold to silver to correspond with the devices
of the seniors.

The second lieutenant had no insignia, but it was not
necessary as his shoulder strap or epaulette clearly
marked him as a commissioned officer, so no further device
was then needed, but when we adopted the service khaki
in the Spanish-American War, with its plain shoulder
strap of cloth, alike for officers and men, the lack of a


Snsfignia of 3ftanfe

special mark for the second lieutenant became apparent.
However the blue uniform continued to be our main re-
liance, the khaki (changed later to olive drab) being then
worn only in the field and tropics, so the need was not
great. Gradually the service uniform began to be used
more and more, until by the time the World War broke
out, blue was worn only in the evenings and on dress oc-
casions, and very shortly after the United States declared
war it was completely abandoned, only the service olive
drab being worn.

The need for an insignia for the second lieutenant then
became urgent. It was proposed among other plans to
give him one bar, the first lieutenant two, and the captain
three bars, but again the policy of making as little change
as possible prevailed, and a gold bar was adopted in 191 7,
following the precedent previously established in the
major's insignia.

This brings our rank devices up to date; silver stars for
general officers, one for the brigadier, two for the major
general and three for the lieutenant general ; a silver eagle
for the colonel, a silver leaf for the lieutenant colonel and a
gold leaf for the major; two silver bars for the captain, one
for the first lieutenant, and one gold bar for the second
lieutenant. A full general is permitted to choose his own
insignia, but all three that we had during the World War
(Pershing, March, and Bliss) took four stars.

Foreign Nations

A study of the insignia of rank in foreign countries
shows a much simpler and more systematic method than


ours. All divide officers into three classes, general officers,
field officers and junior officers, and each class has some
marked difference in the insignia. (Plate 27.)

In the British army a second lieutenant has one star, a
lieutenant has two, and a captain three. They are the
junior officers; next come the field officers, the major first
with a crown, a crown and a star for a lieutenant colonel
and a crown and two stars for a colonel. Then come the
general officers all of whom have a sword and baton crossed.
A brigadier general has the sword and baton alone, a
major general adds a star to it, a lieutenant general has
the sword and baton and a crown, while a general has both
the crown and star with the sword and baton: A field
marshal has two crossed batons on a laurel wreath with a
crown above. These devices are worn on the cuff of the
sleeve by regimental officers, on the shoulder strap and
cap by general officers.

The French system is even simpler. One small gold
stripe worn on the cuff shows a second lieutenant, two for a
first lieutenant and three for a captain. A major adds a
fourth, but spaced with a greater interval from the third,
a lieutenant colonel adds a fifth, but the stripes are alter-
nately gold and silver, while the colonel has five stripes,
all gold. A brigadier general has two stars, a major gene-
ral three, and a marshal seven.

The Belgian rank marks are worn on the collar. One
gold star for a second lieutenant, two for a first and three
for a captain. Field officers have a vertical stripe of
gold lace at the edge of the collar, and the stars, one
for a major, two for a lieutenant colonel and three for a


Snsfignia of Banfe

colonel. General officers have two gold stripes and the
stars, two for a major general and three for a lieutenant

The Italians use silver stars in the same way, but placed
on the cuff, one, two, and three for a second lieutenant, first
lieutenant and captain respectively. Then the same for
the three grades of field officer, except that the stars are
enclosed in a rectangle of silver braid. General officers
have a piece of broad silver braid on the cuff. This is bare
for a brigadier general, a major general has one gold star
on it, a lieutenant general two and a general three.

The Portuguese devices for the junior officers are the
same as the French. Field officers have one wide stripe,
to which is added one small stripe for a major, two for a
lieutenant colonel and three for a colonel. A general (the
Portuguese have but one grade of general officer) has
three gold stars. The Minister of War, if a soldier, has
five gold stars.

The Japanese junior officers wear one, two, and three
gold stars on a shoulder strap which is red with gold edg-
ing and a gold stripe down the centre. The strap of the
field officers has two gold stripes, and the one, two, and
three stars are repeated. General officers have a gold
shoulder strap, on which a major general has one star, a
lieutenant general two, and a general three.

Naval Insignia of Rank

The present rank insignia on the sleeves of our naval
officers are exactly the same as those of the British navy.
An ensign (called a sub-lieutenant in Great Britain) has


©rberief, ©ecorationief, anb SttJBfigttia

one gold stripe, one half inch wide, around the cuff; a
lieutenant junior grade, has an additional stripe, one
quarter of an inch wide, commonly called a ''half stripe."
A lieutenant has two stripes, a lieutenant commander two
and a half stripes, a commander three, and a captain
four. A commodore has one very wide stripe, two
inches in width; to this a rear admiral adds one half inch
stripe, a vice admiral two, and an admiral three. An
admiral of the fleet in the British navy has the wide
stripe and four of the others.

These stripes date only from the middle of the last
century in our navy, and then we had but four grades of
officer, a captain who wore three stripes, commander with
two, lieutenant with one, and a master who had no stripe,
but three buttons instead.

The Civil War saw a large increase in our navy, and the
devices of rank then commenced with the ensign, (the
junior officer) who had one stripe, each grade adding one
till a rear admiral had eight. The lieutenant, junior grade,
was called a master in those days.

In 1869 this was changed so that the senior officers down
to and including the grade of commander had the same
stripes they now wear, but a lieutenant commander then
had two, a lieutenant one and a half, a master one and an
ensign a half stripe. By 1 88 1 the present system had been
established in its entirety.

In 1820 a captain of over five years' standing wore two
crossed anchors on his epaulette, one of less than five years
had but one anchor. In 1852 a naval captain had the
eagle of the army colonel on his epaulette, a commander


3n£iignia of 3^anfe

had two crossed foul anchors, and a lieutenant one foul
anchor. The epaulette of a master was plain.

The Civil War saw the same shoulder strap as used by
the army, and the complete army insignia on the strap
and the epaulette, and since that time the navy has
followed the army lead in this matter.

The French navy use the same system as their army, the
only difference is that the stripes are wider and go entirely
round the sleeve, but the number of stripes is the same as
for the corresponding grades in the army.

The Italian navy uses one, two, and three stripes on the
cuff for the three junior grades. For lieutenant com-
mander, commander and captain there is one wide stripe,
to which are added one, tw9, or three respectively of the
smaller stripes. Flag officers have a wavy stripe in place
of the wide one, and one, two, or three of the other stripes.

The Japanese navy has the same rank marks on the
sleeve as our navy, except for the flag officers, who have
two wide stripes, to which are added one, two, or three of
the smaller stripes for a rear admiral, vice admiral, and
admiral respectively.






THE oldest of our present insignia is the shell andflame
of the Ordnance Department, which was adopted in
1832 to be worn in gold embroidery on the skirts
of the long coats of officers of artillery and ordnance.
Four years later the buttons of the ordnance officers were
made with a design of crossed cannon and the shell and
flame. In 1851 the shell and flame was entirely removed
from the uniform of the artillery, and since then it has
been confined to the ordnance. This device came into
our service from the British, where, under the name of
"grenade," it has long been the badge of the Royal
Engineers, the Royal Horse Artillery, and the Grenadier

Next came the crossed cannons of the artillery which
have been in continuous use by that branch of the service
since 1834, when they were placed on the regimental
colours. In 1836 they were adopted for the uniform, al-
though as stated above, they were shared with the ord-
nance, as the latter had crossed cannons on their buttons
until 1902. Prior to 1901 the artillery was organized


SniBJignia antr ©isftinctibe Coloursf of iStm of g)ettjice

into regiments and the regimental number was placed in a
medallion in the centre of the crossed cannons. In that
year the regimental organization was abolished, and
officers of the Field Artillery then replaced the number by
a wheel, those of the Coast Artillery by a projectile. The
latter has remained to the present time, but in 1907, when
the Field Artillery was organized into regiments again, it
abandoned the medallion, putting the regimental number
above the crossed cannons as in the infantry and cavalry.

The next insignia now in use to be adopted was the castle
of the Engineers, which appeared in 1840 as a cap orna-
ment. It was silver and encircled by a gold wreath of
palm and laurel. For a few years prior to 1840 the En-
gineers used a gold star enclosed in a wreath ; the same
device, omitting the wreath, was adopted for the dragoons,
when those troops were first organized in 1833, and the
gold star continued as the dragoon device until 1851 when

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Online LibraryRobert E. WyllieOrders, decorations and insignia, military and civil; with the history and romance of their origin and a full description of each → online text (page 17 of 19)