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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the present crossed sabres of the cavalry replaced it. The
mounted rifle regiment (which was changed to the 3d
Cavalry in 1861) had a gold trumpet for its insignia, and
the two cavalry regiments organized in 1857 (which be-
came the 4th and 5th Cavalry in 186 1) used crossed sabres
turned the other way, that is with the cutting edge down
instead of up as the dragoons had it, and as now used by
all the cavalry.

The caduceus of the Medical Department also appeared
in 1 85 1 for the first time in our service in the form of a
cloth sleeve insignia worn by Hospital Stewards. It
disappeared in 1887 being replaced by the cross of the
Geneva Convention, the familiar Red Cross, which was


<2^tiiersf, ©ecorationjf, anb Snsfignia

taken from the flag of Switzerland with the colours re-
versed. The officers of the Medical Department long
used the letters ''M.S." in old English characters within a
laurel wreath; in 1872 they were changed to "M.D." and
this lasted till 1890 when Medical officers wore a gold
shield of the United States for six years, then the cross of
the Geneva Convention, or as it is described in the official
order, "a modification of the cross of the Knights of St.
John," the Knights Hospitallers who were described in
Chapter II. This cross was adopted for the entire Medi-
cal Department, officers and men, in 1896. In 1902 its
place was taken by the caduceus. This is a form of the
staff of iEsculapius, the god of medicine of the ancient
Greeks, who was always represented with a staff about
which a serpent was entwined. This has been the emblem
of physicians for over two thousand years. The caduceus
itself is a winged staff having two serpents around it, and
was carried by Mercury, the god of skill and dexterity in
the Grecian mythology.

In 1868 came the crossed flags of the Signal Corps, worn
at first only by enlisted men on the sleeve. The torch
was added in 1884 giving the present insignia.

In 1872 came the shield of the Adjutant General's De-
partment, which was then worn in silver so there was no
conflict between it and the gold shield worn by Medical
officers between 1890 and 1896.

In 1875 came the present crossed rifles of the infantry.
The first infantry insignia was a silver bugle, this lasted
from 1832 to 1 85 1 when it was changed to gold, but musi-
cians continued to wear the bugle as a collar ornament


Snsfignia anh Bfetimtibe Colours; of ^xm of S>ertiice

until the World War. The connection of the bugle with
infantry is of long standing. Many infantry regiments of
the British army today use a bugle for a regimental badge
and tradition ascribes its origin for this purpose to the
days of Robin Hood and his band of foresters, all dressed
in Lincoln green and equipped with bugles to summon
their comrades when help was needed.

In 1877 appeared the crescent as the device of the Sub-
sistence Department. This is no longer in use as that
department was combined with the Quartermaster Corps
in 1910.

In 1885 we find .the first trace of the Quartermaster
Corps insignia as a key and pen worn by Quartermaster
Sergeants only. In 1896 the wheel and eagle were added
making the present insignia which became the device for
the entire corps. Previous to that time Quartermaster
officers had worn the letters " Q . M . "

The same year saw the advent of the device of the Pay
Corps, a diamond. Like the Subsistence Department the
Pay Corps was combined with the Quartermaster Corps in
19 10 and the diamond then disappeared, but it has now
(1920) been re-estabHshed as the insignia of the new Fi-
nance Department. The letters ''P.D." had been in use
by the Paymasters before 1896, and "S.D." by officers of
the Subsistence Department.

In 1890 appeared two new devices, the wreathed sword
and pen of the Judge Advocate General's Department,
and the wreathed sword and fasces of the Inspector Gen-
eral's Department. The fasces, which consists of an axe
in the middle of a bundle of rods tied together, was the


symbol of authority of the old Roman lictors, civil officers,
corresponding somewhat to our present police, who pre-
ceded magistrates and other important officials to clear the
road for their passage.

In 1898 the Latin cross in silver was adopted for Chap-
lains. Before that date they used a shepherd's crook on
their shoulder straps without any other insignia of rank.
In 191 8 a new insignia was adopted for Jewish Chaplains,
the Mosaic tablets surmounted by the star of David.

In 1 90 1 the Army Nurse Corps was established and
their insignia was the cross then worn by the Medical
Department in green enamel with gilt edge. Now the
Nurse Corps has the medical caduceus charged with the
monogram "A.N.C/*

In 1902 came the present device of the Professors at the
Military Academy, of the Aides to General Officers and of
the Bureau of Insular Affairs. In 1904 the General Staff
was created by law, and the present insignia of the Corps
was adopted.

The World War brought a number of new branches
requiring distinctive devices. For the Corps of Interpre-
ters and Provost Marshal General's Department letters
were used enclosed in wreaths. Machine Gun Battalions,
Pioneer Infantry, Trench Mortar units, and Anti -Aircraft
Artillery added initials to the ordinary insignia of their
arm of service. The Tank Corps adopted a convention-
alized tank supported by a salamander, the animal which
is popularly supposed to live in fire, a belief which has
existed since the most ancient times and was testified to
by no less an authority than the great Aristotle.


^ns^tgnta anti ^isitlnttiht ColoutiB; of ^tm of ^etbtce

The insignia of the Chemical Warfare Service consists of
crossed chemical retorts with a hexagonal figure known as
a benzol ring, a diagrammatic method used in chemistry of
representing benzene. The duties of the Transportation
Corps are shown by the winged railroad wheel, flanged and
on a rail, and those of the Motor Transport Corps by the
automobile wheel and the winged helmet of Mercury.
The insignia of the Air Service is equally appropriate and
needs no explanation.

In ordinary times all officers are commissioned in some
branch of the army so there is always an insignia for them,
but in the World War many officers were given commis-
sions merely in the Army of the United States, and then
assigned to duties for which no particular device was pre-
scribed. To provide for such cases a special insignia was
adopted, the coat of arms of the United States enclosed
in a circle.

Distinctive Colours

The present distinctive colours in our Army are as
follows :

Adjutant General's Department Dark blue

Inspector General's Department Dark blue piped with white

Judge Advocate General's Department Dark blue.piped with light blue

Quartermaster Corps Buff

Ordnance Department Black piped with scarlet

Signal Corps Orange piped with white

Medical Department Maroon

Air Service Green piped with black

Corps of Engineers Scarlet piped with white

Tank Corps Gray

Chemical Warfare Service Cobalt blue piped with yellow

Corps of Interpreters Green piped with white

Transportation Corps Scarlet piped with green

Motor Transport Corps Purple


Provost Marshal General's Department Yellow piped with green

Chaplains Black

Cavalry Yellow

Cavalry Machine Gun units Yellow piped with scarlet

Artillery Scarlet

Infantry Sky blue

Infantry Machine Gun units Sky blue piped with scarlet

Finance Department Silver gray piped with golden


School detachments Green.

Distinctive colours for the different branches of the
army are much older than the insignia; as already related
our first insignia dates only from 1832, but the use of
colours to distinguish troops antedates the Revolutionary
War. In colonial days each colony had its own uniform
with its own colours, and this lasted until the complete
control of the army was vested in the Federal government.
The result was a great variety of uniforms and colours,
although a careful study shows that the favourite combina-
tion, both during the Revolution and the colonial wars
was a blue coat with scarlet facings. Blue as the colour
of our uniforms is thus of very long standing in spite of the
British heritage of scarlet. As far back as 1739 an act of
the New York Assembly provided that the Albany troop-
ers should be "cloathed in blew coats with Hats laced
with Silver." However it was not until 1821 that blue
was formally adopted, the uniform order of that year com-
mencing ' ' Dark blue is the national colour, where a differ-
ent one is not expressly prescribed all uniform coats will
be of that colour." This language was repeated for a
number of years.

In 1777 a Corps of Artillery was formed by the Con-


Snsiignia anb Biisftinctibe €olonxsi of 9tm of ^erbice

tinental Congress, and this appears to have been the first
all- American body of troops, certainly it was the first for
which a definite uniform was prescribed by the continental
authorities, and there we find the origin of our present
artillery scarlet, the coat being specified of blue or black
reaching to the knee, the skirts to hook back "showing the
red lining," and the plume of the cocked hat was also red.
In 1779 this was emphasized by an order prescribing a
"blue coat faced with scarlet, and scarlet linings" for the
artillery. Except for a short period at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, when yellow was combined with it,
scarlet has been the colour of the artillery during our entire
history as a nation.

The infantry has made two complete cycles between
white and light blue, since the former was prescribed for
the facings of the light infantry commanded by Lafayette
in 1780. After the Revolution the buttons, epaulettes,
and all other metallic parts were of silver for the infantry,
and this continued as the characteristic of that arm until
1 85 1, when all trimmings were changed to gold to conform
to the other branches, and light blue superseded white for
the facings. In 1886 the facings were changed back to
white, and in 1902 back again to light blue.

The first distinctive cavalry uniform was a blue coat
with white facings, prescribed for the Light Dragoons in
1779. This was changed in 1782 to red facings with white
linings for the "American cavalry." In 1799 the cavalry
wore a green coat, with white linings and facings, the white
being changed to black the following year. During the
early part of the nineteenth century the cavalry ceased to

©rbetfif, jaecoratiotTjS, anb Sngignia

exist and it was not until 1832 that the nucleus of our
present mounted service was organized as a battalion of
Mounted Rangers, enlarged to a regiment of Dragoons in
the following year. Dragoon officers wore an orange sash
from the very beginning in contrast with the crimson sash
worn by all other officers. The facings however were
yellow until 1851 when they were changed to orange.

In the meantime a regiment of Mounted Rifles had been
organized which had yellow facings at first, then emerald
green. In 1855 ^wo cavalry regiments were created with
yellow facings and in 186 1 the designations of dragoon and
mounted rifleman disappeared, all becoming cavalry with
yellow as the distinctive colour, which has ever since been

The Corps of Engineers has likewise had many changes.
The first prescribed for it was a blue coat with buff fac-
ings and red lining. This was in 1780. The Engineers
were later combined with the artillery in a Corps of Ar-
tillerists and Engineers, all wearing the uniform already
described of the artillery. In 1802 the present Corps of
Engineers was established, and the first distinctive colour
we find for it was black, the regulations of 181 2 providing
for a collar and cuffs of black velvet. In 1832 this was
extended by requiring trouser stripes of the same material
and colour, and a plume for the hat of three black ostrich
feathers. This lasted till 1851 when yellow became the
Engineer colour. The present scarlet piped with white
replaced the yellow in 1872.

The Ordnance colour was crimson from 1851 to 1902
when black and scarlet superseded it.


Sn^iSjxia anb JBfetimtibe CoIoutfiJ of ^xm of ^erbice

The first Medical Department colour was green pre-
scribed in 1847 for the sash of Medical officers. This was
gradually extended to include the hospital stewards and
other enlisted men, lasting with a brief exception till 1902
when the present maroon was adopted. For a very short
time the Medical Department shared crimson with the

Orange was adopted for the Signal Corps in 1872, the
white piping being added later to conform to the custom
which then prevailed of having piping of a different colour
for all except the three-line branches, cavalry, artillery,
and infantry.

The buff of the Quartermaster Corps was adopted for
that purpose in 1884, and has been retained. During the
ten years preceding the Civil War pompoms were worn
on the caps and buff was then used to denote all the staff
corps, that being the colour of the lower two-thirds of the
pompoms of all staff officers, the upper third being in the
colour of the corps. Light blue was used for the Quarter-
master Corps on the pompoms.

The grey of the old Subsistence Department dated from
1873 ; this colour is now used for the Tank Corps. During
the pompom period ultramarine blue denoted the Sub-
sistence Department.

The present colours of the Inspector General's and
Judge Advocate General's Departments were adopted in
191 8 for use on the overseas cap, those corps, like the
Ad just ant General's, having had no distinctive colour
until that time except as worn on the pompoms in the
fifties, when the Adjutant General's and Judge Advocate


0vhtvsi, JBetoratiottiBf, anb Snsfignia

General's departments were denoted by white tops, the
Inspector General's department by a scarlet top.

The old Pay Corps officers wore olive green tops to their
pompoms ; that was the only distinctive colour that corps
ever had.

The colours of the Chemical Warfare Service are those
of the American Chemical Society.

The scarlet of the machine-gun units symbolizes their
artillery tendencies.

The colours of the new Finance Department, silver
grey and golden yellow, are appropriate for the branch
that handles all the monetary transactions of the army.


The oldest corps device now existing in our navy appears
to be that of the Pay Corps, which was adopted in 1862.
Prior to that time Pursers (as they were then called) wore
the letters 'T.D." on their epaulettes and a wreath of live
oak on the collar. In 1830 they had a cornucopia as their
corps device. White was the colour of the Corps from
1869 until all distinctive colours in the navy were abolished
in 1919.

Surgeons originally used the staff of ^sculapius as their
corps insignia. This was changed in 1832 to a branch of
live oak, and in 1852 to three sprigs of Uve oak, with the
letter "M.D." on the epaulettes. During the Civil War
and for many years thereafter medical officers were de-
noted by the absence of corps insignia on the epaulettes
and straps. Cobalt blue was the original colour of this


Knsfignia anb W^tintti\it Colours; of 0rm of ^erbite

corps, changed to maroon at the same time the army
adopted that colour.

By 1 88 1 all the present corps devices were in use, except
that for the surgeons who had no device, and for the civil
engineer and dental surgeon corps which were not created
at that time. The letters *'C.E." formed the original
device of the civil engineers.

The insignia of the Marine Corps was adopted in 1868
and was suggested by the badge of the British marines,
the eastern hemisphere surmounted by an anchor and
crown. Naturally we took the western hemisphere and an
eagle replaced the crown. This badge superseded a bugle
with the letter "M," which came from the old infantry
device of our army. Scarlet and old gold are the Marine

The insignia of the Adjutant and Inspector's Depart-
ment, Marines, is a combination of the army insignia of the
Adjutant General's and Inspector General's Departments,
just as the duties of the Marine organization combine the
duties of the two army departments.

The insignia of the Marine Quartermaster's Department
is very similar to that of the army corps of the same name,
while the Paymaster's Department very evidently takes
the insignia of the Navy Pay Corps as its motive.

The Pubhc Health and Marine Hospital Service, Treas-
ury Department, uses the caduceus with an anchor; and
the Coast Guard, also in the Treasury, employs the shield
of the United States in gold embroidery.



Aaronson, Private Julius, 58

Adams, Herbert, 50, 91

Adjutant General's Department,
insignia of, 252; illustration, 256;
colours of, 259

Affaires Etrang^res, Medal for,
136; ribbon of, 120

Agricultural Merit (Agricole) , order
of, 136; ribbon of, 120

Aides, (A.D.C.), insignia of, 254;
illustration, 256

Air Force Cross, 116; illustration,
144; ribbon of, 112

Air Force Medal, 119

Air Service, insignia of, 255; illus-
tration, 256

Albert, King, 55

Albricci, General, 8

Alcantara, Order of, 23

Alexandria, battle of, 5

Ambulance Service, insignia of,
238; illustration, 236

Ambulance Sections awarded four-
rag^re, 201

Ambulance Section No. 646, cita-
tions of, 202

Andre, Major, capture of, 7

Anjouan, Order of the Star of, 134

Annam, Order of the Dragon of,

Annunziata, Order of the, 23, 152

Anouar, Nichan-el, Order of, 133;
ribbon of, 120

Ark-in-Flood medal, i

Armada, Spanish, 2

Artillery, insignia of, 250; illus-
tration, 256; colours of, 256

Artillery, Railway, insignia of,
240; illustration, 236

Artillery School, insignia of, 238;
illustration, 236

Aviation badges, 91, 92; illustra-
tions, 88

Avis, Order of, 149; illustration,
160; ribbon of, 128

Award, definition of, 32


Badge, definition of, 26; how worn,

35 ; illustrations, 88
Bailey, Banks and Biddle, 77
Baker, N. D., Secretary of War,

Baldwin, General F. D., 45
Bar, definition of, 33
Barkley, Private John L., 46
Bath, Order of the, 105, 106,
illustrations, 40, 96; ribbon of,
Belgian decorations, list of, 139
Belgian insignia of rank, 246; illus-
trations, 240
Benson, Admiral, 56
Black, General W. M., 53
Black Star, Order of the, 132;

illustration, 144; ribbon of, 120
Black Swan, Order of the, 153
Boer War Medal, ribbon of, 112
Bravery, Medal for, of Monte-
negro, 184, ribbon of 128; of
Serbia, 181, ribbon of, 128
Brevet, definition of, 32
British decorations, list of, 94
British Empire, Order of the, no;

ribbon of, 112
British India, Order of, 114
British insignia of rank, 246, 247;

illustrations, 240
Butler, General S. D., 45
Buttons, lapel, definition of, 29;
for Legion of Honour, 127; for
Portuguese decorations, 147; for
Victory Medal, 89



Calatrava, Order of, 23

Cambodia, Order of, 133

Camouflage Corps, insignia of, 240;
illustration, 236

Camperdown, battle of, 3

Carib Insurrection, 3

Catenella, 156

Cavalry, insignia of, 251; illustra-
tion, 256; colours of, 257

Cecere, Corporal Gaetano, 57

Central Records Office, insignia of,
239; illustration, 236

Ceylon, capture of, 5

Chah-Ho, Order of, 192; ribbon of,

Chambers, Lieut. Reed M., 62

Chapels of orders, 102, 104, 107,
108, 154

Chaplain's insignia, 254; illus-
trations, 256

Chemical Warfare Service, insignia
of, 239, 255; illustrations, 236,
256; colours of, 260

Chevrons, 243

China Campaign Medal, 13, 79;
illustrations, 56, 80

Christ, Order of, 148; ribbon of,

Chrysanthemum, Order of the,

Cincinnati, Order of the, 1 1

Citation, definition of, 32; certi-
ficate, 70; illustration, 64; stars,
65 to 70; how worn, 86; illus-
tration, 56; Navy, 70, 89

Civil Valour Medal, 159

Civil War, 41; medal for 13; illus-
trations, 48, 72

Clasps, adopted by U. S., 17; how
worn, 33; origin of, 4; for Dis-
tinguished Service Order, 109;
for Victoria Cross, 99; for Victory
Medal, 87

Cluster, oakleaf, 50; awards of, 58;
illustration, 56

Coast Guard, insignia of, 261;
illustration, 256

Coldstream Guards, colours of,

Collar, order of the, 153

Collars of orders, 36; illustration,

Colonel's insignia, 243; illustrations,

Colours, of arm of service, 255; of
Navy, 260; regimental, 197, regi-
mental, British, 198; regimental
French, 198

Companions of Honour, 1 1 1

Congressional Medal, 43 {see Honor,
Medal of)

Conspicuous Service Medal, 117

Cordon, Grand, 36

Corps, insignia of, 235 to 237; illus-
trations, 230, 236

Couriers, insignia of, 238

Cravate on French colours, 199;
illustration, 200

Croix de Guerre, Belgian, 142;
illustration, 160; ribbon of, 112;
French, 129; illustration, 144;
ribbon of, 120; Greek {see War
Cross); on colours, 199; illus-
tration, 200

Crowder, General E. H., 53

Crown of Belgium, Order of the,
141, illustration, 160, ribbon of,
112; India, 113; Italy, 157, illus-
tration, 160, ribbon of 120; Japan
190; Roumania, 176, illustration,
160, ribbon of, 128

Crusades, 19

Cuban Occupation, medal for, 77^
illustration, 56; Pacification,
medal for, 81, illustrations^ 56,


Daly, Sergeant Dan, 45

Danilo I, Order of Prince, 183;
illustration, 176; ribbon of, 128

Deccan Campaign, medal for, 3

Decorations, definition of 25; how
worn, 34; when worn, 27

Delano, Miss Jane A., 55

Devoted Service in War, Medal for,

Devotion to Patriotic Service,
Medal for, 184

Dewey Medal, 13, 75; illustration,

Diaz, Lieutenant-General, 55

Distinguished Conduct Medal, 117,
ribbon, 112; Flying Cross, 116,
illustration, 144, ribbon of, 112;
Flying Medal, 119, ribbon of,
112; Service Cross, British, 115,
ribbon, 112; United States, 15,
57-62, illustration, 48; Service



D. C. M. — Continued

Medal British, 117; ribbon, 112;
India, 119; United States, 15, 16,
52-57, illustrations, 48, 72; Ser-
vice Order, 108, illustration, 96;
ribbon of, 112

Divisions, insignia of, 213-234;
illustrations, 212, 220, 230; organ-
izations in, Plate 29, at end

Douglas, Lieutenant Campbell, 62

Dragon of Annam, Order of the,

Dragon, Order of the Double, 190;
ribbon of, 128

Drake, Lieutenant E. T., 202

Dunbar, Medal for battle of, 2


Earthquake medals of Italy, 160;

ribbon of, 120
East India Company's medals, 3, 4,


Embury, Captain Aymar, 57

Engineers, awarded fourrag^e, 201 ;
Civil, of Navy, insignia of, 261,
illustration,256; insignia of Army,
251, illustration, 256, colours of,
258; Thirteenth, insignia of, 239,
illustration, 236

Epaulettes, 242, 244

fipid^mies. Medal for, 136; ribbon
of, 120

Expeditionary ribbon. Marine
Corps, 80; illustration, 56

Finance Department, insignia of,
253; illustration, 256; colours of

Fine Arts, U. S. Commission of, 25,

First Army, insignia of, 212; illus-
tration, 212

Flying Instructor's badge, 93; illus-
tration, 96

Foch, Marshal Ferdinand, 8, 54

Foreign decorations, for U. S.
officers, 15; how worn, 34; when
worn, 38

Fourragere, Belgian, 206; French,
199; awarded to U. S. organi-
zations, 201; Portuguese, 207

Eraser, J. E., 63, 87

French, Daniel C., 75

Garter, Order of the, 23, 100
General Headquarters, A. E. F.,
insignia of, 242, illustration, 236;
Officers, insignia of, 242, illus-
tration, 240; Service Medals of
Great Britain, 6; Staff, Insignia
of, 254, illustration, 256
George I, order of, 185
Gibraltar, siege of, 5
Gillain, Lieutenant-General, 8, 55
Goethals, General G. W., 53
Golden Fleece, Order of the, 23
Golden Kite, Order of the, 189;

ribbon of, 128
Good Conduct badges. Navy and
Marine Corps, 90; illustrations,
Gorgas, General W. C, 54
Grant, General U. S., Medal for, 9
Gunner's insignia, 93
Guthrie, Lieutenant M. K., 62


Haig, Field Marshal Sir D., 8, 55,

Haitian Campaign Medal, 81; illus-
tration, 80
Hailer, General, 8
Hawk, Order of the, 172
Heart, purple, 7
Hines, General F. T., 54
Hogan, Sergeant Henry, 45
Holy Ghost, Order of the, 137;

illustration, 192
Honor, Medal of, 10, 14, 39-52, 98,

99; how worn, 35, 50; illustrations,

Honour, Medals of, French, 136;

ribbon of, 120
Honour, Legion of. Order of the, 124 ;

illustrations, 40, 96; ribbons of,

96,120; on colours, 199
Hospitallers, 19, 22
Hunter, Lieutenant F. O'D., 59,


Iftikhar, Nichan, Order of, 134
Imperial Service Order, 112
Indian Campaign Medal, 13, 74;

illustration, 48
Indian Empire, Order of the, 113

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18

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 18 of 19)