Union Army Uniforms and Insignia of the Civil War

Epaulette Grade Insignia of the Civil War

Major General's Epaulette

A. The major general commanding the Army, who held the highest rank in the Army, wore three stars. The largest star was in the crescent of the pad and each star become smaller moving down the strap of the epaulette. The next grade of major general had two silver stars with the larger in the crescent. Grade devices were generally straight pinned to the surface of the lace epaulette.

Brigadier General's Epaulette

B. Brigadier General's epaulettes had only one star placed on the strap. In 1872 the star was moved to the pad. The illustration of epaulettes appearing in the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records shows the pattern used after 1872 rather than the regulation Civil War pattern. Generals were not considered to have a branch of service. In the old pre-war Army this was the case. Generals commanded departments with soldiers of many branches under their command. No circlets or department branch insignia should be on a regulation general's epaulettes.

Colonel's Epaulette EagleLieutenant Colonel's Epaulette Leaf

C. This colonel's epaulette eagle gives an approximation of the appearence of the eagle but makes no effort the simulate embroidery. The eagles were embroidered in silver bullion. In addition to the grade device the regulations describe a branch of service insignia or initals for departments and a circlet in the branch color for line officers whose grade was between colonel and second lieutenant.

D. Regulations do not give a size for the silver leaf worn by lieutenant colonels but they were of a good size, a typical one measures one and one-quarter by one and one-half inches. As mentioned no grade device was worn on a major's epaulette. His larger epaulette bullions and double breasted coat served to distinguish him from a second lieutenant.

Captain's Epaulette BarsFirst Lieutenant's Epaulette Bar

E. Captains wore two silver embroidered bars on the gold lace surface of the epaulette. A typical bar measures one inch by one-quarter of an inch. Although bars on shoulder straps were gold those on epaulettes were silver. Prior to 1851 a bimetallic scheme was followed whereby infantry wore silver epaulettes. The eagles worn by colonels on these epaulettes were gold in color. Other branches, including staff officers, wore gold epaulettes with silver eagles. After 1851 all epaulettes became gold in color with silver grade devices.

F. First lieutenants wore a single silver bar. The strap of a second lientenant's epaulette was devoid of any grade insignia.

MORE: Original Epaulettes Colonel, Lt. Colonel, and 2nd Lt.
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