United States Army officer rank insignia

United States Army Officer Rank Insignia

United States Army officer rank insignia

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Description:
United States Army officer rank insignia in use today.



History

The structure of U.S. ranks has its roots in British military traditions. At the start of the American Revolutionary War, uniforms, let alone insignia, were barely affordable and recognition of ranks in the field was problematic. To solve this, General George Washington wrote:

"As the Continental Army has unfortunately no uniforms, and consequently many inconveniences must arise from not being able to distinguish the commissioned officers from the privates, it is desired that some badge of distinction be immediately provided; for instance that the field officers may have red or pink colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff, and the subalterns green."

From 1780, regulations prescribed two stars for major generals and one star for brigadier generals, worn on epaulettes. From 1821 to 1832, the Army used chevrons to identify officer grades, a practice that is still observed at West Point for cadet officers.

Colonels received their eagle in 1832, and four years later lieutenant colonels were using oak leaves and captains and first lieutenants their respective double and single bars. Both majors and second lieutenants had no specific insignia. A major would have been recognizable as he would have worn the more elaborate epaulette fringes of a senior field officer but without insignia. The color of insignia was gold on silver epaulettes in the infantry and vice versa in the other...
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