U.S. Army Uniform

Wearing Army Traditions

Today's soldier, wearing an Army uniform of modern cut, is carrying on traditions of more than 200 years. Early in an enlistment, most learn about their uniform by listening to the folklore passed on by their seniors. Each year historical inquiries to museum curators and history offices, usually before promotion boards, demonstrate that there is an interest in and a need for a reliable and accessible uniform reference, based on official documents. Assembled on the these pages are soldiers of today and historical images and artifacts of yesterday, from the Central Army Museum Collection, to provide testament and, we hope, some answers to the proud heritage we wear.

Service Cap

A cloth forage cap with visor appeared in the clothing allowance of 1821, to save the expensive uniform cap from fatigue duty. By 1902 a bell-crown version had earned its modern name when it joined the olive drab and khaki service uniform introduced that year.

Officers Chin Strap

The Officer's caps gained a gold bullion cord in 1883, replacing the black chin strap, and established an officer distinction. A gold chin strap was part of the blue dress uniform in 1902 and continued with the new Army Green uniform of 1954.

Service Cap Insignia

The Army is privileged to wear the U.S. coat of arms. In 1895 officers added it to their forage caps when they moved their branch insignia to the standing collar of a new sack coat. In 1917 enlisted personnel followed with the arms on a disk.

Shoulder Strap

After 1829 officers could wear a frock coat. This introduced the shoulder strap by 1835, as a grade insignia from the bridle used on the fringed epaulets of the uniform coat. In 1851 its field became a branch color, and company officer insignia silver by 1872.

Branch Color Ornamentation

In 1851 the French frock coat arrived for all and introduced the system of branch colors. The 1902 dress uniform retained this on officer cap and cuff ornamentation, but in 1953 enlisted personnel changed to gold for all branches to avoid supply problems.

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