Union Army Uniforms and Insignia of the Civil War

Late Civil War Grade Insignia

Lt. Colonel's Leaf

Lieutenant Colonel's Leaf
(Courtesy of John Rupp)

Shoulder straps were too conspicuous and singled out officers for the special attention of sharpshooters. On November 22, 1864 General Orders No. 286 was issued and allowed officers to wear their grade device in place of the full shoulder strap. It is likely that this order legitimized something that was already being done. For example, a July 25, 1863 G. O. of the Army of the Cumberland authorized officers in that Army to wear only the grade device. Despite the existence of many late war photographs of officers wearing grade devices in place of straps, few if any examples of these have been published. The above insignia was worn by William H. Silsby of the 10th Iowa. The leaf pictured above measures one and one-quarter by one inch. Its silver color is tarnished.

Lt. Col. James W. Miller 82 Penn. Vol. made me a present today of a fine pair of silver leaves for my fatique coat."
--Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry

MORE: Major's Leaf (in place of strap) in period photograph
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