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OFFICER INSIGNIA OF GRADE
CAPTAIN AND LIEUTENANTS

Captain

First Lieutenant

Second Lieutenant

1. General Washington’s order of July 23, 1775, stated: "… that the field officers may have red or pink colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff, and the subalterns green." During this time frame, subalterns included lieutenants, coronets, and ensigns. Coronets and ensigns were abolished in 1800 and the grade of second lieutenant was established.

2. An order issued by General Washington on June 18, 1780 stated that captains would wear the uniform of their regiments and an epaulette (gold) on the right shoulder. The subalterns would wear the uniform of their regiment and an epaulette (gold) on the left shoulder. A change was made in 1802 when the epaulettes for all infantry officers was changed from gold to silver.

3. The uniform regulation for the Army on March 27, 1821 discontinued the use of the cockades but adopted chevrons for captains and lieutenants. Captains were directed to wear a gold or silver lace chevron, point upward, one half inch wide, above the elbow, and lieutenants a gold or silver lace chevron below the elbow.

4. In 1836, two bars for captains were established and one bar for the first lieutenants. The specific color of the bars were either gold or silver depending on the color of the border of the shoulder straps which were also adopted in 1836. The border of the shoulder straps was of gold or silver, according to the branch of service. In 1851, the silver border used by infantry was abolished and all borders became gold. The insignia for captains and lieutenants remained gold, except there was no insignia for second lieutenants and none was worn on the shoulder strap. In 1872 epaulettes were abolished and shoulder knots substituted. In the same year, bars of captains and lieutenants changed from gold to silver to correspond with insignia of seniors. Second lieutenants continued to have no insignia until a gold bar was adopted in December 1917.

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