Wearing Army Traditions - (cont.)

Trouser Stripe

Officers and noncommissioned officers have worn stripes since 1832, and in branch colors after 1851. General officer double stripes arrived in 1902, but gold replaced all colors by 1953, and male enlisted Army blue uniforms even gained stripes after 1955.

Light Blue Trousers

Winter mud on early white wool changed the pantaloons to a more practical gray by 1821, and to sky-blue in 1832. Contrasting with the blue coat, this traditional color scheme avoided the difficult match of coat and trousers worn by generals and staff officers.

Enlisted Collar Insignia

Complaints in 1907 about the loss or snagging of officer cut-out collar insignia led to the adoption of bronze circular disks for enlisted personnel. Die struck with the branch, US and unit designation, the collar ornaments changed to gilt after 1924.

Chevron Grade Insignia

Chevrons first appeared in 1821 when shoulder wings replaced the epaulettes, and in 1847 for wear on the wool jacket. But after 1851 large chevrons worn point down in branch color or smaller chevrons (worn point up after 1902) became the standard.

U.S. Great Seal Button

With the adoption of the Great Seal in 1783, Army buttons begin to reflect it. By 1854 all enlisted personnel wore — and after 1902 all personnel had — the Great Seal button, except engineer officers, who retained their distinctive branch button.

Service Stripe

After the 1782 Badge of Distinction, the service stripe reappeared in 1832. By 1851 a diagonal half chevron in branch color indicated an enlistment. With the absence of the dress uniform in 1920, a smaller service stripe appeared for the service coat.

Army Blue

In 1779 GEN George Washington specified blue for the uniform coat. Regulations of 1821 reiterated that the Army would wear the national blue. With the 1902 adoption of the service dress in khaki and olive drab, Army blue became a dress uniform.

Officer Grade Insignia

Officer grade insignia evolved from devices added to the gold- or silver-fringed epaulettes. By 1898 the use of cotton khaki for tropical field clothing and the wear of insignia on the wool shirt (in 1899) required removable metal insignia.

< Back | More >