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Lieutenant Colonel's Epaulette

Lieutenant Colonel's Epaulette

This lieutenant colonel's epaulette is lacking a branch of service device, such as a circlet or staff department insignia and may have originally belonged to a militia officer. It does illustrate the thicker bullion tassels at the ends and the large silver leaf on the strap of the epaulette. Lieutenant colonels originally were given a silver, rather than a gold leaf, so that it would contrast with the gold lace of the epaulette strap. A major worn no grade device but did have thicker bullion tassels on his epaulette than a second lieutenant who also had no grade device. Students of heraldry have long been puzzled by the illogical nature of modern United States Army grade insignia. The higher grades (lieutenant colonels and first lieutenants) have a less "noble" metal than lower grade officers (majors and second lieutenants). The reason for this goes all the way back to epaulettes and the need to use silver to contrast with the gold of the strap.

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