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Title: American Military Insignia 1800-1851
Author: Campbell, J. Duncan
Language: English
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_Publications of the United States National Museum_

The scholarly publications of the United States National Museum
include two series, _Proceedings of the United States National Museum_
and _United States National Museum Bulletin_.

In these series are published original articles and monographs dealing
with the collections and work of the Museum and setting forth newly
acquired facts in the fields of Anthropology, Biology, History,
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interested in the different subjects.

The _Proceedings_, begun in 1878, are intended for the publication, in
separate form, of shorter papers. These are gathered in volumes,
octavo in size, with the publication date of each paper recorded in
the table of contents in the volume.

In the _Bulletin_ series, the first of which was issued in 1875,
appear longer, separate publications consisting of monographs
(occasionally in several parts) and volumes in which are collected
works on related subjects. _Bulletins_ are either octavo or quarto in
size, depending on the needs of the presentation. Since 1902 papers
relating to the botanical collections of the Museum have been
published in the _Bulletin_ series under the heading _Contributions
from the United States National Herbarium_.

This work is number 235 of the _Bulletin_ series.

                                                  FRANK A. TAYLOR
                             _Director, United States National Museum_

  For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
  Washington 25, D.C.--Price $2

[Illustration: Shoulder-belt plate of Vermont Militia, attributed to
Ethan Allen, about 1785. In collection of Dr. John Lattimer.]


American Military Insignia


J. Duncan Campbell and Edgar M. Howell





  Preface                                      ix

  Bibliography                                xiv

  Introduction                                  3
    Organization of the Regular Army            3
    Organization of the Militia                 6

  Insignia of the Regular Army                  7
    Cap and Helmet Devices                      7
    Shoulder-Belt and Waist-Belt Plates        31

  Insignia of the Uniformed Militia            51
    Cap and Helmet Devices                     51
    Shoulder-Belt and Waist-Belt Plates        88


This catalog is a descriptive and interpretive listing of the insignia
of the Army of the United States--other than buttons, epaulets, and
horse furniture--in the National Collections that were prescribed or
worn during the period 1800-1851. The subject of early American
military buttons has been covered by L. F. Emilio in _The Emilio
Collection of Military Buttons_ (Salem, Massachusetts: Essex
Institute, 1911), W. L. Calver and R. P. Bolton in _History Written
with Pick and Shovel_ (New York: New York Historical Society, 1950),
and David F. Johnson in _Uniform Buttons, American Armed Forces_,
1784-1948. (Watkins Glen, New York: Century House, 1948, 2 vols.). For
epaulets, see Mendel L. Peterson, "American Army Epaulets, 1814-1872,"
_Military Collector and Historian_ (March 1961, vol. 3, no. 1, pp.

Most of the specimens described here are from the huge W. Stokes Kirk
Collection acquired in 1959, supplemented by the War Department
Collection and the numerous biographical collections of the United
States National Museum; in addition, a few insignia in the collections
of J. Duncan Campbell and others are included.

The unique W. Stokes Kirk Collection, unmatched in scope, volume, and
rarity, is worthy of special note. It was begun in 1878 by W. Stokes
Kirk, Sr., of Philadelphia, a dealer in U.S. Government surplus.
Struck by the beautiful design and delicate art work in some of the
early insignia, Mr. Kirk put aside all old and unusual devices for his
personal collection. As his business expanded, so did his interest in
military rarities and curios. After each bulk purchase from government
sources, he would have all the odd and unusual items sorted out for
his examination. The best of such items went into his personal
collection, which included rare firearms, powder flasks, insignia,
epaulets, military caps, and the like. W. Stokes Kirk, Jr., who
succeeded his father and expanded the business nationally until it
became almost as well known as Bannerman's Military Store in New York
City, maintained and enlarged the collection. After his death, in
1946, the collection was continued by his widow, Mrs. Linnie A. Kirk
Mosler. Items in this catalog from the W. Stokes Kirk Collection are
indicated by the letters "S-K" in parentheses following the United
States National Museum number.

Although this catalog is, in more than one sense, a developmental
history of American military insignia, it is not, and is not intended
to be, a definitive study. The picture is far too incomplete. Whereas
the record of Regular Army devices after 1821 is fairly clear--despite
the fact that the uniform regulations continued sometimes to use the
tantalizing phrase "according to pattern"--there remain serious gaps
in the pre-1821 period when regulations were exceedingly vague and
fragmentary at best; for example, the badges of the Regiment of Light
Artillery (1812-1821). These gaps will be filled only by excavating at
sites known to have been occupied by specific Regular units during
particular periods. Indeed, since this study was begun, four unique
and significant insignia were excavated at the site of a War of 1812
cantonment, and these greatly enrich our knowledge of the period.

The record of insignia of the veritable multitude of independent
uniformed Militia companies in existence during the period under
consideration may never be complete. The selection presented here,
however, is an excellent representative chronological cross section of
typical designs and variations of insignia worn by the uniformed or
"volunteer" Militia, as opposed to the "common" or "standing" Militia.

The best sources of documentation and dating for Regular Army devices
are the uniform regulations and ordnance regulations; these are
supplemented by pertinent records in the National Archives, notably
the letter files of the Purveyor of Public Supplies and of the
Commissary General of Purchases. The letter files are voluminous, but
in some cases badly mixed and in many cases incomplete. We have
conjectured a reason for this incompleteness. The two prime
contractors for military insignia during the period 1812-1821 were
George Armitage and William Crumpton, both of whom had their small
factories in Philadelphia within a mile of the office of Callendar
Irvine, Commissary General of Purchases. The paucity of written
transactions in the records in the National Archives between these
gentlemen and Irvine tends to bear out our assumption that most of
their dealings were conducted verbally in Irvine's office. This would
account for the lack of sketches and drawings of cap plates and belt
plates in files of the National Archives. In cases where no specific
documentary evidence is available, dating has been based on a careful
evaluation of design development and comparison with biographical
specimens that can be more fairly dated through knowledge of the
former owner's career. Excavated insignia from datable sites have also
reduced the problem considerably.

For Militia insignia worn about 1835, the best documentation is to be
found in _U.S. Military Magazine_, published between 1839 and 1842 by
Huddy and Duval of Philadelphia, and in _New York Military Magazine_,
published by Labree and Stockton of New York during 1841. In 1939,
Frederick P. Todd described the Huddy and Duval prints in detail
(_Journal of the American Military Institute_, 1939, vol. 3, no. 3,
pp. 166-176). However, evaluation and consideration of over-all design
development and comparison with dated biographical specimens of the
earlier period, before 1835, are difficult and must be done
cautiously, as there is no orderly pattern. One generalization does
seem clear: during the decade after 1821, when the Regulars discarded
large cap plates, the Militia almost universally adopted them and
continued to wear them well into the 1840's. Very few insignia include
the maker's name or initials, but when they do, bracketing within a
definite period is relatively easy. Similarly, when a cap plate
appears to be original to a cap, the design of the cap and its maker's
label, if included, are of great help. Finally, when there is nothing
else to rely on, the "feel" of the specimen, gained through the
experience of studying several thousand, has been used, although with

The year 1800 was selected as the opening date of the study because it
was in that year that the first metal ornament was prescribed to
designate a particular branch of service. The closing date of 1851 was
chosen because Regular Army devices for that year and thereafter are
well documented in uniform regulations, manuals, and catalogs of
manufacturers such as William Horstmann and Sons. Militia dress after
that general date becomes so increasingly complex that it should be
attempted only as a separate study.

Most of the specimens described in this study were struck from steel
dies; however--despite the relative wealth of knowledge on the
striking of coins--little is known of the exact process, especially
prior to the appearance of the punch press in the 1830's. Several
insignia dies dating as early as the War of 1812 period and a number
dating in the 1840's do exist, however. All of these examined were
found to be female dies, with the design in intaglio rather than in
relief. The design was worked into the die--the art generally termed
"die-sinking"--in the same basic manner as in coin dies. The die
sinker first softened the steel to suit his particular taste and then
incised the design, using a succession of small chisels. The steel was
then retempered to withstand high impact pressures. Although there is
no documentation on the subject, manufacturing techniques of the
period indicate that the following process was probably employed: the
die was locked in place at the base of a drop press, similar to a
guillotine, so that it could be struck accurately from above; a piece
of pure lead was then affixed to the bottom of the weighted drop and
allowed to strike the die a sufficient number of times to completely
receive the impression of the die and become, in effect, a male
counterpart; lastly, a thin sheet of brass, copper, or pewter was
placed on the female die and struck with the weighted lead male,
receiving the desired impression but without the excessive stretching
and resultant cracking that a steel-on-steel strike might have
produced. Examination of finished products in the national collections
bears out this theory of production; few if any of the specimens show
evidence of having been struck with a steel male die.

With only a few exceptions, all specimens have been photographed on a
1-inch grid. All references to right and left are made according to
heraldic usage; the heraldic right is always on the left as viewed.

During the months this work has been in progress, many people and
institutions have generously assisted in many ways. It is a pleasure
to thank them for their help.

Mr. Detmar Finke of the Office of the Chief of Military History,
Department of the Army, reviewed the Regular Army portions of the
manuscript and made many valuable suggestions. Mr. Frederick P. Todd,
director of The West Point Museum, graciously answered many questions
relative to both Regular Army and Militia insignia. Through the
courtesy of Mr. James Koping and Miss Elizabeth Ulrich of the
Pennsylvania State Library, The _U.S. Military Magazine_ of Huddy and
Duval was made available for unlimited use.

Thanks are also given to the following, who furnished photographs of
specimens in their collections: Mr. Waverly P. Lewis, Devon,
Connecticut; Mr. William E. Codd, Monkton, Maryland; The Filson Club,
Louisville, Kentucky; The West Point Museum; The Fort Sill Museum; Old
Fort Erie Museum, Ontario, Canada; The Niagara Historical Society
Museum, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada; The Washington County
Historical Society Museum, Fort Calhoun, Nebraska; the Valley Forge
Chapel Museum, and Dr. John Lattimer, New York City.

Mr. Michael Arpad of Washington, D.C., was especially helpful in
matters pertaining to the techniques of chasing and die sinking.

                                               J. DUNCAN CAMPBELL
                                                  EDGAR M. HOWELL

  _March 1, 1963._


The following works have been used in gathering the material for this
book. They are frequently referred to in the text in shortened form.

_American military history, 1607-1953._ (ROTC Manual 145-20,
Department of the Army.) Washington, 1956.

_American state papers, class V, military affairs._ Vol. 1.
Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1832.

ANSELL, S. T. Legal and historical aspects of the Militia. _Yale Law
Journal_ (April 1917), vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 471-480.

BARNES, R. M. _Military uniforms of Britain and the Empire._ London:
Seeley Service and Co., 1960.

BELOTE, THEODORE T. _American and European swords in the historical
collections of the United States National Museum._ (U.S. National
Museum Bulletin 163.) Washington, 1932.

A bit of U.S. Mint history. _American Journal of Numismatics_ (1908),
vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 45-50.

CALVER, W. L., and BOLTON, R. P. _History written with pick and
shovel._ New York: New York Historical Society, 1950.

CHAMBERLAIN, GEORGIA S. Moritz Furst, die-sinker and artist. _The
Numismatist._ (June 1954), vol. 67, no. 6, pp. 588-592.

DAVIS, GHERARDI. _The colors of the United States Army, 1789-1912._
New York: Privately printed, 1912.

EMILIO, L. F. _The Emilio collection of military buttons._ Salem,
Massachusetts: Essex Institute, 1911.

FINKE, DETMAR H. Insignia of rank in the Continental Army, 1775-1783.
_Military Collector and Historian_ (fall 1956), vol. 8, no. 3, pp.

_General regulations for the Army._ Philadelphia: M. Carey and Sons,

_General regulations for the Army of the United States._ Washington:
Department of the Army, 1835.

_General regulations for the Army of the United States, 1847._
Washington: J. and G. S. Gideon, 1847.

GRONERT, T. G. The first national pastime in the Middle West. _Indiana
Magazine of History_ (September 1933), vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 171-186.

History of the organization of the United States cavalry. MS, Office
of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, Washington,

HOPKINS, ALFRED F. Volunteer corps hat of 1814. _Military Affairs_
(winter 1941), vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 271-272.

JOHNSON, DAVID F. _Uniform buttons, American armed forces, 1784-1948._
2 vols. Watkins Glen, New York: Century House, 1948.

JONES, WILLARD L. History of the organization of the United States
Field Artillery. MS, Office of the Chief of Military History,
Department of the Army, Washington, D.C.

_Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789._ Edit. Worthington
Chauncey Ford and others. 34 vols. Washington: Carnegie Foundation,

KIVETT, MARVIN F. Excavations at Fort Atkinson, Nebraska, a
preliminary report. _Nebraska History_ (March 1959), vol. 40, no. 1,
pp. 39-66.

Knox papers. MSS Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

KUHN, EDWARD C. U.S. Army colors and standards of 1808. _Military
Affairs_ (winter 1941), vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 263-267.

LEFFERTS, CHARLES W. _Uniforms of the American, British, French, and
German Armies in the War of the American Revolution._ New York: New
York Historical Society, 1926.

LEWIS, WAVERLY P. _U.S. military headgear, 1770-1880._ Devon,
Connecticut: Privately printed, 1960.

LUNDEBERG, PHILIP K. A history of the North Carolina Militia,
1784-1848. Master's dissertation, Duke University, 1947.

MAHON, JOHN K. The citizen soldier in national defense, 1789-1815.
Doctor's dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles, 1950.

----. History of the organization of the United States Infantry. (Pp.
1-61 in vol. 2 of _The Army lineage book_, Washington: Department of
the Army, 1953.)

MCBARRON, H. CHARLES. Regiment of Riflemen, winter uniform, 1812-1815.
Military Collector and Historian (December 1954), vol. 6, no. 4, p.

----. The 18th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 1814-1815. _Military Collector
and Historian_ (summer 1955), vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 48-49.

MCCLELLAN, E. N. Uniforms of the American Marines, 1775 to 1827.
Mimeographed in 1932 by Marine Corps Historical Section, Department of
the Navy, Washington, D.C.

_The military laws of the United States._ Edit. John F. Callan.
Philadelphia: George W. Childes, 1863.

_New York Military Magazine_ (1841).

_Official Army register, corrected to October 31, 1848._ Washington,

Official drawings for the U.S. Army uniform regulations of 1851.
_Military Collector and Historian_, vol. 10, no. 1 (spring 1958), pp.
17-19; vol. 10, no. 2 (summer 1958), pp. 43-45.

_Old Print Shop Portfolio_ (May 1961), vol. 20, no. 9.

PARKYN, MAJ. H. G. _Shoulder-belt plates and buttons._ Aldershot,
Hants, England: Gale and Polden, Ltd., 1956.

PATTERSON, C. MEADE. The military rifle flasks of 1832 and 1837.
_Military Collector and Historian_ (March 1953), vol. 5, no. 1, pp.

PETERSON, HAROLD L. _The American sword_, New Hope, Pennsylvania: The
River House, 1954.

PETERSON, MENDEL L. American Army epaulets, 1841-1872. _Military
Collector and Historian_ (March 1951), vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-14.

PREBLE, GEORGE HENRY. _History of the flag of the United States of
America._ Boston: A. Williams and Co., 1880.

Records of the Adjutant General's Office. Record Group 94, National
Archives, Washington, D.C.

_Regulations for the government of the Ordnance Department._
Washington: Francis P. Blair, 1834.

_Regulations for the uniform and dress of the Army of the United
States, June 1851._ Philadelphia: William H. Horstmann and Sons, 1851.

RIKER, WILLIAM H. _Soldiers of the States._ Washington: Public Affairs
Press, 1957.

Standing Order Book, 1st Infantry, Detroit. MSS Division, Library of
Congress, Washington, D. C.

SWANSON, NEIL H. _The perilous flight._ New York: Farrar and Rinehart,

TODD, FREDERICK P. The Huddy and Duval prints. _Journal of the
American Military Institute_ (1939), vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 166-176.

----. Notes on the dress of the Regiment of Light Artillery, U.S.A.
_Military Collector and Historian_ (March 1950), vol. 2, no. 1, p. 10.

----. Our National Guard: An introduction to its history. _Military
Affairs_, vol. 5, no. 2 (summer 1941), pp. 73-86; vol. 5, no. 3 (fall
1941), pp. 152-170.

----. The curious case of the Voltigeur uniform. _Military Collector
and Historian_ (June 1952), vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 44-45.

----. Notes on the organization and uniforms of South Carolina
military forces, 1860-1861. _Military Collector and Historian_
(September 1951), vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 53-62.

----. Three leather cockades. _Military Collector and Historian_
(spring 1956), vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 24-25.

TOWNSEND, F. C., and TODD, FREDERICK P. Branch insignia of the Regular
cavalry, 1833-1872. _Military Collector and Historian_ (spring 1956),
vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-5.

UPTON, EMORY. The military policy of the United States. Senate
Document No. 379, 64th Congress, 1st Session. Washington: 1916.

_U.S. Military Magazine_ (1839-1842), vols. 1-3.

WALL, ALEXANDER J. The flag with an eagle in the canton. _New York
Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin_ (October 1933), vol. 17, no. 3,
pp. 51-67.

WIKE, JOHN W. Untitled MS, Office of the Chief of Military History,
Department of the Army, Washington, D.C.

_Writings of George Washington._ Edit. John G. Fitzpatrick.
Washington: 1944.

ZIEBER, EUGENE. _Heraldry in America._ Philadelphia: Bailey, Banks,
and Biddle, 1909.


Military Insignia



In almost all armies it long has been standard practice to use
distinctive devices of cloth and metal to distinguish between arms and
services, and between individual units of each arm, to enhance morale
and develop esprit de corps. Colors of units of the British Army have
had ancient badges emblazoned on them since before the establishment
of the present standing army in 1661. By the end of the first half of
the 18th century some of these badges had been authorized for
placement on horse furniture or for wear on grenadier caps. This was
especially true of the regiments of horse and a few of the older
regiments of foot. The infantry regiments received numerical
designations in 1751, and these numbers were worn on waist belts,
shoulder belts, and cartridge-box plates. When the infantry units
acquired county titles in 1782, these names often were added to the
plates. In 1767 regimental numbers were ordered placed on the buttons
of officers and other ranks; in practice these numbers were often
combined with other devices.[1]

[Footnote 1: PARKYN'S _Shoulder-Belt Plates and Buttons_ contains a
wealth of information on British regimental devices.]

In the American Army such devices have taken many forms, ranging from
distinctive buttons, plumes, cockades, cap plates, shoulder-belt
plates, and waist-belt and cartridge-box plates to the well-known
shoulder sleeve insignia and distinctive unit insignia of the present
day. The origin of much of this insignia and many of the changes in
its design can be tied more or less directly to the organization of
the Regular Army--its contractions and expansions and its changes in
arm and service designations--and to the peculiar circumstances
surrounding the origin and growth of the volunteer or uniformed
Militia. Thus, a short discussion of the organization of each is in

[Footnote 2: For history of the organization of the Army, see
_American Military History, 1607-1953_; MAHON, "History of the
Organization of the United States Infantry"; and JONES, "History of
the Organization of the United States Field Artillery."

Unfortunately, there is no single, completely satisfactory source on
the militia system of the United States. The following works, however,
contain sound information and, when taken together, provide an
excellent background on the subject: TODD, "Our National Guard";
MAHON, "Citizen Soldier"; LUNDEBERG, "History of the North Carolina
Militia"; ANSELL, "Legal and Historical Aspects of the Militia";
GRONERT, "First National Pastime in the Middle West"; and RIKER,
_Soldiers of the States_.]

Organization of the Regular Army

Two months after the War of the Revolution officially ended with the
signing of a peace treaty on September 3, 1783, General Washington
directed the Army to turn in its arms and disband.[3] Since the
Continental Congress had made no provision for a permanent
establishment, Washington retained in service one infantry regiment
and a battalion of artillery to guard military stores and take over
posts to be evacuated by the British.[4] Early in June 1784 Congress
ordered these units disbanded except for detachments to guard stores
at Fort Pitt and West Point; then, in order to secure the frontier
against Indian unrest, it immediately authorized a regiment to be
raised from the militia of four of the States to comprise eight
companies of infantry and two of artillery.[5] This unit, called the
First American Regiment, gradually turned into a regular organization.

[Footnote 3: _Writings of George Washington_, vol. 27, p. 222.]

[Footnote 4: Ibid., pp. 256-258; also letter dated January 3, 1784,
from Henry Knox, Commander in Chief of the Army, to President of the
Continental Congress (in Knox papers).]

[Footnote 5: Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 27, p. 524;
also, UPTON, p. 69.]

The failure of an expedition commanded by Col. Josiah Harmar of the
First American Regiment against the Indians in 1790 awakened the
Congress somewhat to the threat in the Northwest and resulted in the
organization of another infantry regiment, which was designated the 2d
Infantry Regiment; the First American Regiment was redesignated the
"1st".[6] Trouble with the Indians continued, and after another severe
reverse Congress authorized the raising of three additional infantry
regiments and, at the same time, empowered the President to organize
the Army as he might see fit.[7]

[Footnote 6: Act of March 3, 1791 (_Military Laws_, pp. 90-91).]

[Footnote 7: Act of March 5, 1792 (_Military Laws_, pp. 92-94).]

Under this discretionary power, the Army was reorganized into the
Legion of the United States. This was a field army in which the three
combat branches--infantry, cavalry, and artillery--were combined. The
Legion was in turn broken down into four sublegions, with each
containing infantry, cavalry, artillery, and riflemen; thus, the
sublegions were the fore-runners of the modern combined arms team. The
1st and 2d Infantries became the 1st and 2d Sublegions. Of the three
additional infantry regiments authorized, only two were organized,
these becoming the 3d and 4th Sublegions.[8] Under the forceful
leadership of Gen. Anthony Wayne the Legion reversed the record on the
frontier and decisively defeated the Indians at the Battle of Fallen
Timbers. The temporary peace which followed turned attention to the
problem of protecting the Atlantic seaboard, and in 1794 Congress
authorized a large increase in the artillery, assigned engineer
officers, and designated the new organization the Corps of
Artillerists and Engineers.[9] The Legion was continued until it was
replaced in 1796 by the 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th Infantry Regiments, which
were constituted from the four sublegions, two troops of light
dragoons, and the above-mentioned Corps.[10]

[Footnote 8: _American State Papers_, pp. 40-41.]

[Footnote 9: Act of May 9, 1794 (_Military Laws_, p. 104).]

[Footnote 10: Act of May 30, 1796 (_Military Laws_, p. 114).]

The threat of war with France in 1798 brought further expansions. In
April of that year an "additional regiment" of artillerists and
engineers was authorized, with the Corps created in 1794 becoming the
1st and the new unit being designated the 2d Regiment of Artillerists
and Engineers.[11] In the following July, 12 more regiments of
infantry and 6 troops of light dragoons--to be combined with the two
troops in existence to form a regiment--were authorized; an additional
24 regiments of infantry, plus units of other arms, authorized the
following winter made a total of 40 regiments of infantry.[12]
Actually, the greatest part of this force remained on paper. Only the
1st and 2d Infantries ever attained their required strength, and only
3,400 men were enlisted for the 5th through the 16th. There were no
enlistments at all for the other regiments. Officers were assigned to
the six troops of light dragoons, but no enlisted personnel were
raised and no horses were bought.[13]

[Footnote 11: Act of April 27, 1798 (_Military Laws_, pp. 119-120).]

[Footnote 12: Acts of July 16, 1798, and March 2, 1799 (_Military
Laws_, pp. 127-128).]

[Footnote 13: _American State Papers_, p. 137.]

More quickly than it had arisen, the threat of a war with France
abated. Early in 1800 action was suspended under the two acts creating
the paper regiments, and the Army was reduced to the regular
establishment of four regiments of infantry, two regiments of
artillerists and engineers, and two troops of light dragoons.[14] Two
years later the antipathy of the new Jefferson administration to a
standing army further reduced this establishment to two regiments of
infantry and one of artillery. The Corps of Artillerists and Engineers
was abolished; a Corps of Engineers was organized to be stationed at
West Point and "constitute a military academy"; and the light dragoons
were disbanded.[15]

[Footnote 14: Acts of February 20 and May 14, 1800 (_Military Laws_,
pp. 139, 141); also, _American State Papers_, p. 139.]

[Footnote 15: Act of March 16, 1802 (_Military Laws_, pp. 141-149).]

The Jeffersonian theories regarding a strong militia and a small
professional army were rudely shaken in 1807 by the _Chesapeake-Leopard_
affair. With war seeming imminent, Congress added to the Regular
Establishment, though cautiously "for a limited time," five regiments of
infantry, one regiment of riflemen, one of light artillery, and one of
light dragoons. The new regiments of infantry were numbered the 3d
through the 7th.[16] There was no further preparation for a fight with
England until just before war was actually declared. In January 1812, 10
regiments of infantry, two of artillery, and one regiment of light
dragoons were added; three months later a Corps of Artificers was
organized; and in June provision was made for eight more infantry
regiments, making a total of 25.[17] In January 1813, following the
discouragements of the early campaigns in the Northwest, Congress
constituted 20 more infantry regiments, bringing the total to 45, the
largest number in the Regular Establishment until the 20th century.[18]
A year later three more regiments of riflemen, designated the 2d through
the 4th, were formed.[19]

[Footnote 16: Act of April 12, 1808 (_Military Laws_, pp. 200-203).]

[Footnote 17: Acts of January 11, April 23, and June 26, 1812
(_Military Laws_, pp. 212-215, 222-223, 230).]

[Footnote 18: Act of January 1813 (_Military Laws_, pp. 238-240).
There is some confusion as to just how many infantry regiments were
organized and actually came into being. The Act of January 29, 1813,
authorized the President to raise such regiments of infantry as he
should see fit, "not exceeding twenty." It seems that 19 were actually
formed, made up partly of 1-year men and partly of 5-year men. There
are 46 regiments listed in the Army Register for January 1, 1815, and
it is known that several volunteer regiments were designated as units
of the Regular Establishment and that a 47th and a 48th were
redesignated as lower numbered units when several regiments were
consolidated because of low recruitment rate. Mahon (in "History of
the Organization of the United States Infantry") is not clear on this
point. There is an organizational chart of the Army for this period in
the files of the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department
of the Army.]

[Footnote 19: Act of February 10, 1814 (_Military Laws_, pp.

In March 1814 Congress reorganized both the artillery and the
dragoons. The three artillery regiments, which had never operated as
such, but rather by company or detachment, were consolidated into the
Corps of Artillery; and the two regiments of dragoons, which had never
been adequately trained and generally had given a poor account of
themselves, were merged into one.[20] The Regiment of Light Artillery
remained untouched.

[Footnote 20: Act of March 30, 1814 (_Military Laws_, pp. 252-255);
JONES, p. 58; "History of the Organization of the United States

Almost as soon as the war ended, Congress moved to reduce the Army[21]
by limiting the peacetime establishment to 10,000 men, to be divided
among infantry, artillery, and riflemen, plus the Corps of Engineers.
The number of wartime infantry units was reduced to eight, and the
rifle units to one. The Corps of Artillery and the Regiment of Light
Artillery were retained, but dragoons were eliminated.[22]

[Footnote 21: Act of March 3, 1815 (_Military Laws_, pp. 266-267).]

[Footnote 22: The reorganization of 1815 is treated by MAHON "History
of the Organization of the United States Infantry" (pp. 11-12), JONES
"History of the Organization of the United States Field Artillery"
(pp. 59-60), and WIKE, unpublished study.]

By 1821 the prospects of a prolonged peace appeared so good that
Congress felt safe in further reducing the Army. Consequently, in that
year the number of infantry regiments was cut to seven; the Rifle
Regiment was disbanded; the Corps of Artillery and the Regiment of
Light Artillery were disbanded, with four artillery regiments being
organized in their stead; and the Ordnance Department was merged with
the artillery,[23] an arrangement that continued until 1832.

[Footnote 23: Act of March 2, 1821 (_Military Laws_, pp. 303-309).]

The opening of the West in the decades following the War of 1812
brought an important change in the organization of the Army.
Experience having shown that infantry were at a distinct disadvantage
when pitted against the fleetly mounted Indians, in 1832 a battalion
of mounted rangers was organized to quell disturbances on the
northwest frontier,[24] but this loosely knit force was replaced by a
regiment of dragoons the following year.[25] The mounted arm had come
to stay in the Army.

[Footnote 24: Acts of April 5 and June 15, 1832 (_Military Laws_, pp.
322-323, 325-326).]

[Footnote 25: Act of March 2, 1833 (_Military Laws_, pp. 329-330).]

When the second Seminole War broke out in 1836, a second regiment of
dragoons was organized.[26] And, as the war dragged through another
inconclusive year, a reluctant Congress was forced to increase the
size of existing line units and to authorize an additional regiment of
infantry, the 8th. Meanwhile, increasing demands for surveying and
mapping services resulted in the creation of the Corps of
Topographical Engineers as a separate entity.[27]

[Footnote 26: Act of May 23, 1836 (_Military Laws_, pp. 336-337).]

[Footnote 27: Act of July 5, 1838 (_Military Laws_, pp. 341-349).]

Meanwhile, the responsibilities of the Army in the opening of the West
continued to increase, and in 1846 the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen
was organized to consolidate the northern route to the Pacific by
establishing and manning a series of posts along the Oregon Trail.[28]
However, the outbreak of the War with Mexico postponed this mission.

[Footnote 28: Act of May 19, 1846 (_Military Laws_, pp. 371-372).]

At the start of the War with Mexico Congress leaned heavily on
volunteer units, with the hard core of the Regulars remaining
unchanged. But early in 1847 it was found necessary to add nine
regiments of infantry and one regiment of dragoons.[29] Of the
infantry unit's, eight were of the conventional type; the ninth was
formed as the Regiment of Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen. Theoretically,
only half of this latter regiment was to be mounted. Each horseman was
to be paired with a foot soldier who was to get up behind and ride
double when speed was needed. In practice, however, none of the
Voltigeurs were mounted; the entire unit fought as foot riflemen.[30]

[Footnote 29: Act of February 11, 1847 (_Military Laws_, pp.

[Footnote 30: MAHON, "History of the Organization of the United States
Infantry," p. 16.]

All of these new units proved merely creatures of the war, and the
coming of peace saw a reduction to the old establishment of eight
regiments of infantry, four of artillery, two of dragoons, and one
regiment of mounted riflemen.[31] This organization remained
substantially unchanged until 1855.[32]

[Footnote 31: Official Army Register, 1848.]

[Footnote 32: UPTON, p. 223.]

Organization of the Militia

The "common" Militia was first established by the various colonies of
all able-bodied men between roughly the ages of 16 and 60 for
protection against Indian attack. These militiamen were required by
law to be enrolled in the unit of their township or county, furnish
their own arms and equipment, and appear periodically for training.
They were civilian soldiers who had little or no taste for things
military, as their performance in both peace and war almost invariably
demonstrated. They were not uniformed and contributed little or
nothing to the field of military dress.

The "volunteer" or "independent" Militia companies, on the other hand,
were something else again. These units, composed of men who enjoyed
military life, or rather certain aspects of it, appeared rather early
in the Nation's history. The first of these, formed in 1638, was The
Military Company of the Massachusetts, later and better known as the
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. By 1750
there were a number of independent companies in existence--many of
them chartered--and membership in them had become a recognized part of
the social life of the larger urban centers.

The concept of volunteer Militia units was confirmed in the Uniform
Militia Act of 1792, which prescribed flank companies of grenadiers,
light infantry, or riflemen for the "common" Militia battalions and a
company of artillery and a troop of horse for each division, to be
formed of volunteers from the Militia at large and to be uniformed and
equipped at the individual volunteer's expense. Thus, from within the
national Militia structure emerged an elite corps of amateur--as
opposed to civilian--soldiers who enjoyed military exercise, and the
pomp and circumstance accompanying it, and who were willing to
sacrifice both the time and the money necessary to enjoy it. Since the
members were volunteers, they were ready to submit to discipline up to
a point; they trained rather frequently; many of the officers made an
effort to educate themselves militarily; they chose their own
officers; and their relative permanency gave rise to an excellent
esprit de corps. In actuality, these organizations became private
military clubs, and differed from other male social and fraternal
groups only in externals.

The great urban growth of the Nation during the period 1825-1860 was
the golden age of the volunteer companies, and by 1845 these units had
all but supplanted the common Militia. It would be difficult to even
estimate the number of volunteer companies during this period. They
sprang up almost everywhere, more in answer to a demand by the younger
men of the Nation for a recreation that would meet a social and
physical need and by emigrant minorities for a group expression than
for reasons military. It was a "gay and gaudy" Militia, with each unit
in its own distinctive and generally resplendent uniform. If the
"Raleigh Cossacks," the "Hibernia Greens," the "Velvet Light Infantry
Company," or the "Teutonic Rifles" were more "invincible in peace"
than visible in war, they were a spectacular, colorful, and exciting
integral of the social and military life of the first half of the 19th

Insignia of the Regular Army

Uniform regulations prior to 1821 were loosely and vaguely worded, and
this was especially true in regard to officers' insignia. For example
General Orders of March 30, 1800, stated: "... the swords of all
officers, except the generals, to be attached by a white shoulder belt
three inches wide, with an oval plate three inches by two and a half
ornamented with an eagle."[33] In 1801 the 1st Infantry Regiment
directed that "the sword ... for platoon officers ... be worn with a
white belt over the coat with a breast plate such as have been by the
Colonel established,"[34] and in 1810 a regulation stated that "those
gentlemen who have white sword belts and plates [are] to consider them
as uniform, but those not so provided will be permitted to wear their
waist belts."[35] As a result, the officers generally wore what they
wished, and there was a wide variation in design. Most officer
insignia were the product of local jewelers and silversmiths, although
some known specimens are obviously the work of master craftsmen.
Quality varied as well as design, depending on the affluence of the
officer concerned. Some of the plainer plates appear to have been made
by rolling silver dollars into an oval shape.

[Footnote 33: General Orders, March 30, 1800 (Records AGO).]

[Footnote 34: Standing Order Book, folio 1, October 1, 1801.]

[Footnote 35: Records AGO.]

In regard to enlisted men's insignia, only the descriptions of the
1800 dragoon helmet plate and the 1814 and 1817 riflemen's cap plates
give us anything approaching a clear picture. "Oblong silver plates
... bearing the name of the corps and the number of the regiment" for
the infantry in 1812, "plates in front" for the 1812 dragoons, and
"gilt plate in front" for the 1812 light artillery are typical
examples. As a result, the establishment of a proper chronology for
these devices has depended on the careful consideration of specimens
excavated at posts where specific units are known to have served at
specific times, combined with research in pertinent records of the
period in the National Archives.

Cap and Helmet Devices


_USNM 66330-M (S-K 86). Figure 1._

[Illustration: FIGURE 1]

The first known distinctive metal branch insignia authorized for the
Army was this helmet plate. General Order, U.S. Army, dated March 30,
1800, prescribed for "Cavalry ... a helmet of leather crowned with
black horse hair and having a brass front, with a mounted dragoon in
the act of charging."[36] This oval plate, struck in thin brass with
lead-filled back, has a raised rim, within which is a mounted,
helmeted horseman in the act of charging; overhead is an eagle with a
wreath in its beak. A double-wire fastener soldered to the back is not

[Footnote 36: Records AGO.]


_USNM 60283-M (S-K 41). Figure 2._

[Illustration: FIGURE 2]

Although from a different die, this plate, struck in thin brass,
appears to be a die sample of the plate described above. It is also
possible that it is a sample of the dragoon plate authorized in 1812.

¶ The 1813 uniform regulations specified for enlisted men of the
artillery a "black leather cockade, with points 4 inches in diameter,
a yellow button and eagle in the center, the button in uniform with
the coat button."[37] This specification gives some validity to the
belief that a cockade with an approximation of the artillery button
tooled on it may also have been worn.

[Footnote 37: General Order, Southern Department, U.S. Army, January
24, 1813 (photostatic copy in files of division of military history,
Smithsonian Institution); also, _American State Papers_, p. 434.]


_USNM 60256-M (S-K 14). Figure 3._

[Illustration: FIGURE 3]

This cockade is of black leather of the size prescribed by the 1813
regulations. Tooled into the upper fan is an eagle-on-cannon device
with a stack of 6 cannon balls under the trail; an arc of 15 stars
partially surrounds the eagle device. It is believed to have been worn
on artillery _chapeaux de bras_ as early as 1808.

The specimen is unmarked as to maker, but from correspondence of
Callendar Irvine, Commissary General of Purchases from 1812 to 1841,
it seems very possible that cockades similar to this one were made by
Robert Dingee of New York City. Dingee is first listed in New York
directories as a "saddler" (1812); he is listed later as "city
weigher" (1828) and "inspector of green hides" (1831). The
eagle-on-cannon design is similar to that of several Regular artillery
buttons worn between 1802 and 1821, but it most closely approximates a
button Johnson assigns to the period 1794-1810.[38]

[Footnote 38: Specimen no. 156 in JOHNSON, vol. 1, p. 43, vol. 2, p.

¶ The question has been raised as to whether the Regulars ever wore a
cockade with such a device. The 1813 and 1814 uniform regulations
merely specified black leather cockades of 4 inches and 4-1/2 inches
in diameter respectively. However, since the Militia generally did not
start adopting Regular Army devices until the 1820's it seems probable
that this cockade was an item of Regular Army issue, despite the lack
of evidence of specific authorization.

As early as January 1799 War Office orders specified: "All persons
belonging to the Army, to wear a black cockade, with a small white
eagle in the center. The cockade of noncommissioned officers,
musicians, and privates to be of leather with Eagles of tin."[39] This
regulation was repeated in 1800.[40] By 1802 these cockade eagles had
taken the colors used for the buttons and lace of the different arms.
The Purveyor of Public Supplies in that year purchased cockade eagles
in tin (white) for infantry and in brass (yellow) for artillery
enlisted men at a cost of one and two cents, respectively.[41] The
cockade eagles of infantry officers were to be of silver and those of
artillery officers of gold. Cockades for company officers and enlisted
personnel were to be of leather. The loosely worded regulation of 1813
infers that field officers' cockades might be of silk similar to the
"black Ribbon" binding specified for their hats.[42]

[Footnote 39: TODD, "Three Leather Cockades," pp. 24-25.]

[Footnote 40: General Order, March 30, 1800 (Records AGO).]

[Footnote 41: "Statement of Articles of Clothing, 1802," in papers of
Purveyor of Public Supplies (Records AGO).]

[Footnote 42: General Order, Southern Department, U.S. Army, January
24, 1813 (photostatic copy in files of division of military history,
Smithsonian Institution); also, _American State Papers_, p. 434.]

It is extremely difficult to determine whether cockade eagles are of
Regular Army or Militia origin, and to date them if the latter. They
have been found in a wide variety of design and size, ranging from the
rather plain example (fig. 6) to the highly refined one on the general
officer's _chapeau de bras_ (fig. 4). Examination of hats worn by both
Regulars and Militia prior to 1821 reveals that there is little to
choose between the eagles worn by the two components. After 1821,
however, when Militia insignia tended to become more ornate and
Regular devices more uniform, some of the Militia specimens emerge as
distinct types because they have no Regular counterparts. Origin of
the specimen, including excavations of military cantonment sites where
the make-up of the garrison can be determined, has been the primary
criterion used in assignment to either Regular Army or Militia, and to
a lesser extent in dating. Over-all design and method of manufacture
have also been considered in dating.


_USNM 12813. Figure 4._

[Illustration: FIGURE 4]

Unusually refined in design, the eagle is of gold, with head to right,
federal shield on breast, and olive branch in right talon. Three
arrows, with points outward, are held in left talon.

This cockade eagle is on a _chapeau de bras_ formerly belonging to
Peter Gansevoort, brigadier general of the New York State Militia and
brigadier general, U.S. Army, 1809-1812. Although Gansevoort wore this
_chapeau_ while serving as a Militia officer, as evidenced by a New
York State button attached to it, this eagle is included with Regular
Army devices because it is typical of those probably worn by
high-ranking officers of both components.

COCKADE EAGLE, C. 1800-1821

_USNM 60362-M (S-K 118). Figure 5._

[Illustration: FIGURE 5]

Cast in pewter and gold-finished, this eagle looks to the right,
stands on clouds, and holds three arrows (facing inward) in the right
talon and an upright olive branch in the left.

The eagle-on-clouds design is first seen on coins on the 1795 silver
dollar.[43] It was popular during the War of 1812 period, and was not
used in new designs by the Regular Army after 1821. Eagles of
identical design and size are also known in pewter without finish.
Such an eagle could have been worn by Militia as well as Regulars.
Similar specimens have been excavated at Regular Army cantonment sites
of the period.

[Footnote 43: Engraved by Robert Scott after a design by Gilbert


_USNM 66352-M. Figure 6._

[Illustration: FIGURE 6]

This cockade eagle, which is struck in thin brass and silvered, was
excavated on the site of a War of 1812 cantonment. Comparison with
similar specimens in other collections indicates that the missing head
was turned to the right. This eagle is classed as an officer's device
because of its silvered brass composition. The elements comprising the
arc on which the eagle stands cannot be identified because of the
lightness of the strike.

¶ When the dragoons were disbanded in the 1802 reduction following the
dissipation of the French scare, distinctive hat devices other than
cockades disappeared from the service. In 1808, when the Army was
increased, the newly constituted regiments of light dragoons, light
artillery, and riflemen were authorized to wear leather caps. The cap
devices for these units were prescribed as Roman letters, "U.S.L.D.,"
"U.S.L.A.," and "U.S.R.R.," rather than plates. The letters were to be
of brass, 1-1/2 inches "in length."[44]

[Footnote 44: TODD, "Notes on the Dress," p. 10. Also, receipts from
George Green and Son, and letter dated August 6, 1808, from J. Smith
(Commissary General at Washington) to Tench Coxe requesting "brass
letters U.S.R.R." (Records AGO). George Green is listed in
Philadelphia directories of the period as a "brass founder and

[Illustration: FIGURE 7.--Specimens in Campbell collection.]

Illustrated in figure 7 are the letters "U" and "L", of brass,
slightly more than 1 inch "in length" and a letter D, of pewter, 1
inch "in length." The latter was excavated at Sackets Harbor, New
York, where elements of the light artillery dragoons and riflemen are
known to have served during 1813 and 1814. It seems obvious that
pewter letters were worn by the dragoons as consonant with their other
trimmings, for in July 1812 Col. James Burn of the 2d Light Dragoons
requested official permission to issue such.[45]

[Footnote 45: Letter dated July 8, 1812, from J. Burn to William
Eustis (Secretary of War) and letter dated July 9, 1812, from B.
Mifflin (Deputy Commissary General of Purchases). Both letters are in
Records AGO.]

With the large increase in the Army in 1812 came a change in the
headgear of some corps and also a change in insignia. The light
artillery was to wear a yoeman-crowned (i.e., wider at the crown than
at the base) black cap with "gilt plate in front," and the infantry
platoon officers and enlisted men were finally to have the black
cylindrical caps (first prescribed in 1810) with "an oblong silver
plate in front of the cap bearing the name of the corps and number of
the regiment."[46] The rifle platoon officers and enlisted men were
also to wear infantry caps, but with yellow trimmings.[47] The
dragoons were authorized "helmets" with "plates" in 1812, and the foot
artillery regiments in the fall of the same year were ordered to wear
caps like the light artillery instead of the _chapeaux de bras_
previously worn, which would have necessitated the use of plates.

[Footnote 46: General Orders, January 24, 1813 (Records AGO).]

[Footnote 47: Letter dated March 30, 1812, from Coxe to Eustis
(Records AGO); McBarron, "Regiment of Riflemen," p. 100.]

The foot units received their new insignia almost immediately, the cap
plates having been designed, contracted for, and delivered by late
February 1812 for the 5th, 6th, 12th, and 15th Infantry Regiments[48]
(the latter two were new units). This rapid action in regard to the
infantry plates appears to be strong witness to the emphasis placed on
distinctive insignia as morale factors and aids to enlistment, for
active recruiting for the 10 new regiments did not begin until several
months later. There were three different patterns of this infantry
plate manufactured and issued, two of which are described below.

[Footnote 48: Bill dated February 24, 1812, from William Crumpton
(Records AGO).]

All arms were wearing cap plates by the middle of 1813, for there is
record of such issue to the dragoons as well as record of rejection of
ill-struck specimens for infantry, artillery, and rifles.[49] These
plates were made variously by William Crumpton and George Armitage of
Philadelphia, and Aaron M. Peasley of Boston.[50] Philadelphia
directories list Crumpton as a button maker and silversmith between
1811 and 1822. Armitage is first listed in Philadelphia directories,
in 1800, as a "silver plate worker"; in 1801 he is listed as
"silverplater," and in 1820 as a "silverplater and military ornament
maker." Peasley was an ornament and insignia maker in Boston during
the same period.[51]

[Footnote 49: Letter dated August 31, 1812, from Eustis to Irvine;
General Order of January 24, 1813, Southern Department; letter dated
March 31, 1813, from Irvine to Amasa Stetson (Deputy Commissary
General of Purchases, Boston); and letter dated July 13, 1813, from
Irvine to M. T. Wickham. This material is in Records AGO.]

[Footnote 50: Letter from Irvine to Wickham dated July 13, 1813, and
bill from William Crumpton dated February 24, 1812 (both in Records

[Footnote 51: Statement of purchases for September 1813, by Stetson
(Records AGO).]

¶ The three types of infantry cap plates issued between 1812 and 1814
are somewhat similar, and all carry the prescribed "name of the corps
and number of the regiment." All three specimens of these types are
ground finds, two having been excavated after this work was in draft.
The first pictured specimen (fig. 8, left) is believed to be the
earliest pattern issued. Infantry plates as specified in the
regulations were contracted for with William Crumpton late in 1811 or
early 1812 by Tench Coxe, Purveyor of Public Supplies, and issued to
troop units not later than the early summer.[52] They had been in use
but a few months when their generally poor quality of composition
forced several regimental commanders to complain to the new Commissary
General of Purchases, Callendar Irvine, who had just superseded Coxe,
and to request something better. Irvine approved, and he let a
contract for new plates with George Armitage of Philadelphia.[53]
Irvine's reaction to the matter of the plates is an example of his
opinion of his predecessor, Coxe, and Coxe's work in general, which he
had observed while serving as Superintendent of Military Stores in
Philadelphia. In replying to the complaint of Colonel Simonds,
commanding officer of the 6th Infantry, Irvine wrote: "The plates are
mere tin, in some respects like the man who designed and contracted
for them, differing to him only as to durability ... I am contracting
for a plate of decent composition to issue with your next year's

[Footnote 52: Bill dated February 24, 1812, from William Crumpton
(Records AGO).]

[Footnote 53: Letter dated November 8, 1812, from Irvine to Colonel
Simonds (Commanding Officer, 6th Infantry); letter dated November 3,
1812, from Irvine to Colonel Pike (Commanding Officer, 15th Infantry);
and letter dated November 23, 1812, from Irvine to Armitage. These
letters are in Records AGO.]

[Footnote 54: Letter from Irvine to Simonds cited in preceding note.]

The first pattern carries the "name of the corps and the number of the
regiment," the 15th Infantry, commanded by Col. Zebulon Pike who was
one of the officers who complained to Irvine about the poor quality of
cap plates. The specimen is of tinned iron and the letters and
numerals have been struck with individual hand dies.

The two Armitage plates, very similar in over-all design (figures 8,
right, and 9), have been designated the second and third patterns. At
least one of these--perhaps both--apparently was designed by, and its
die sunk by, Moritz Furst, well-known die sinker and designer of
Philadelphia. On March 6, 1813, Irvine wrote the Secretary of War:
"Mr. Furst executed a die for this office for striking infantry cap
plates, designed by him, which has been admitted by judges to be
equal, if not superior, to anything of the kind ever produced in this
country."[55] Furst was Hungarian by birth. He studied design and die
sinking at the mint in Vienna and came to the United States in 1807
with the expectation of becoming Chief Engraver at the Philadelphia
Mint, an appointment which he did not receive. He sank the dies for
many of the medals voted to War of 1812 leaders, did the obverse die
work for a number of Indian peace medals, and is believed to have
designed the swords given by the State of New York to Generals Brown,
Scott, Gaines, and Macomb.[56]

[Footnote 55: Letter in Records AGO.]

[Footnote 56: "A Bit of U.S. Mint History," pp. 45-50; and
Chamberlain, pp. 588-592.]


_USNM 66456-M. Figure 8, right._

[Illustration: FIGURE 8, left.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 8, right.]

This is the second pattern of the infantry cap plate described in the
1812 regulations as an "oblong silver plate ... bearing the name of
the corps and the number of the regiment." The specimen was excavated
on the site of Smith's Cantonment at Sackets Harbor, New York, known
to have been occupied by Regular infantry during the 1812-1815 period.
The piece is struck in "white metal" and tinned [the term "silver" in
the regulation referred only to color]. It is rectangular, with
clipped corners, and is dominated by an eagle, with wings outspread,
grasping lightning bolts in the right talon and an olive branch in the
left talon. Below is a panoply of stacked arms, flags with 6-pointed
stars, two drums, and a cartridge box marked "U.S." The corps
designation "U.S. INFANTRY" is above; the unit designation is blank
with the letters "REGT." on the left. The plate is pierced with four
pairs of holes on each side for attachment.

Another example of this second pattern is known; it is attached to an
original cap and bears the unit designation "12 REGT."


_USNM 60249 (S-K 7). Figure 9._

[Illustration: FIGURE 9]

This is the third pattern of the infantry cap plate prescribed in the
1812 regulations. Like the preceding plate, of the second pattern, the
original plate from which this reproduction was made was excavated on
the site of Smith's Cantonment at Sackets Harbor, New York. Made of
tin-alloy, as is the original, and rectangular with clipped corners,
the piece is dominated by an unusually fierce looking eagle that first
appeared on one of the 1807 half-dollars struck at the Philadelphia
Mint. The eagle has an out-sized, curved upper beak and is grasping
lightning bolts in the right talon and an olive branch in the left.
Below is a panoply of flags and muskets with drum, saber, and
cartridge box. The corps designation "US INFAN{Y}." is above, and the
unit designation "16 REG{T}" is below. The "16" appears to have been
added with separate die strikes. The specimen is pierced with two
pairs of holes on each side for attachment.

This third pattern was also struck in brass and silvered for wear by
officers. Several fragments of such a plate were excavated at Sackets
Harbor; these, although of the third pattern, are the product of a die
different from that used in striking the piece described above.


_USNM 62054-M (S-K 1807). Figure 10._

[Illustration: FIGURE 10]

This is an almost exact duplicate of the 1800 dragoon plate except
that it is struck in pewter, "white metal," the color used by the
infantry and dragoons. It is rectangular with clipped corners that are
pierced for attachment. No detailed description of the 1812 plate has
ever been found, but several identical specimens are known attached to
dragoon helmets made by a contractor named Henry Cressman. The name
"Cressman" is stamped on the lower side of the visor alongside the
initials of an inspector named George Flomerfelt, who is known to have
been employed by the Army as an inspector in Philadelphia during the
period. Henry Cressman is listed in the Philadelphia directories from
1807 through 1817 as a shoemaker. From 1825 to 1839 he is listed as a
military cap maker.

¶ On January 12, 1814, Irvine wrote to the Secretary of War as
follows: "I send herewith an infantry cap plate which, with your
permission, I will substitute for that now in use. The advantages of
the former over the latter are that it is lighter, neater, and will
not cost half [the] price. The present plate covers the greater part
of the front of the cap, is heavy in its appearance, and adds much to
the weight of the cap ...[57]" This proposal was approved on January

[Footnote 57: Letter in Records AGO.]

[Footnote 58: Letter from Secretary of War to Irvine (Records AGO).]

[Illustration: FIGURE 11.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 12.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

But here we enter an area of some confusion and controversy. Were
these new plates to carry the name of the corps and/or the number of
the regiment? Irvine's correspondence gives us no clue, but on the
following March 28 he wrote at least two of his deputy commissary
generals that he was forwarding 8,752 plates for distribution to 14
specifically named infantry regiments plus 851 "blank" plates.[59]
From the total of 8,752 forwarded for specific units, it would seem
that these were probably plates of the new design, but then the
variance in the number sent for individual regiments--from a low of
152 for the 5th Infantry to highs of 1,016 and 1,050 for the 19th and
25th, respectively--appears odd. Specimens of the 1812 pattern are
known both with and without the regimental number, while no examples
of the 1814 pattern have been found with unit designation. Two extant
examples of the 1814 pattern, representing two very similar but
distinct designs (figs. 11, 12), were excavated at Sackets Harbor, New
York, and Fort Atkinson, Nebraska, where Regular infantry served
during 1813-1816 and 1819-1821, respectively. Both plates are "blank,"
and there is no appropriate place on either for the addition of the
number of the unit, as in the case of the 1812 pattern.

[Footnote 59: Letters in Records AGO.]

Another example of the 1814 pattern is known; it is attached to a
bell-crowned cap of Militia origin, which indicates that the plate was
adopted by the Militia after being discarded by the Regular
Establishment. A plate of the same design, but struck in pewter and
cut in the diamond shape popular in the 1820's and 1830's, is also
known; it is obviously a Militia item.


_USNM 60284-M (S-K 42). Figure 13._

[Illustration: FIGURE 13]

Like practically all die samples, this one is struck in brass. It is
rectangular with unclipped corners, but is marked for clipping.
Within a raised oval an eagle, very similar to that on the 1812 plate,
carries an olive branch in its beak, three arrows in its right talon,
and thunder bolts and lightning in its left talon; below, there is a
trophy of stacked muskets, drum, flag, and shield. Although this
specimen is struck in brass, the plate in used specimens is known only
in silver on copper, despite the fact that there was considerable talk
of issuing it in brass.[60]

[Footnote 60: Letters in Records AGO: Irvine to James Calhoun (Deputy
Commissary General of Purchases, Baltimore), January 14, 1815; Irvine
to General Scott, January 13, 1815; Irvine to George Armitage, July
10, 1815.]


_USNM 604747 (S-K 892). Figure 14._

[Illustration: FIGURE 14]

This plate, which is original to the hat to which it is affixed, may
well have been worn by a regular infantry officer during the period
1814-1821. The cap is of the style first issued in October 1813, with
the front rising above the crown.[61]

[Footnote 61: See MCBARRON, "The 18th U.S. Infantry," pp. 48-49.]

The plate, of silver on copper, is rectangular with four scallops top
and bottom. A floral border, 3/16 of an inch wide, that surrounds the
whole, strongly suggests that it was an officer's plate. Within a
central oval an eagle, with wings outspread, is superimposed upon a
trophy of arms and flags; above, on a ribbon, are "E PLURIBUS UNUM"
and 15 5-pointed stars. It is possible that this plate is a Militia
item, but the fact that it appears to be original on a leather cap of
the type worn by Regulars makes it more likely that it is another
example of officers' license in the matter of insignia during this
period. Its attachment to the cap is a variant method: two hasp-like
metal loops, affixed to the plate, have been run through holes in the
hat and a leather thong threaded through them. Most cap plates of
this period were pierced at the corners for attachment by threads.

[Illustration: FIGURE 15.--Specimen in Fort Erie Museum, Ontario,

[Illustration: FIGURE 16.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

¶ The cap plates issued to the artillery regiments (less the Regiment
of Light Artillery) and the riflemen during the period 1812-1821 are
known, but only a fragment of one is represented in the national
collections. Illustrations of all extant are included to complete the
picture. Two of the 1812 plates issued the 2d Regiment of Artillery
(fig. 15) have been excavated at Fort Erie, Ontario, and are in the
collections of the museum there. A plate of the 3d Regiment (fig. 16)
excavated at Sackets Harbor, New York, is of an entirely different
design. The lower third of a plate of the 1st Regiment (fig. 17),
again of a different design, was excavated by the authors in 1961. In
1814, when the three regiments were consolidated into the Corps of
Artillery, these plates were superseded by one bearing the
eagle-on-cannon device closely resembling the button of the artillery
for the period 1814-1821, which has the word "Corps" inscribed.[62]
Specimens of this latter plate representing two distinct though
similar designs have been excavated at posts known to have been manned
by Regular artillery in 1814 and later (figs. 18, 19). The same
general design appears also on cross-belt plates and waist-belt plates
(see below pp. 34-35).

[Footnote 62: See JOHNSON, vol. 1, p. 45, and vol. 2, p. 10.]


_USNM 67240-M. Figure 17._

[Illustration: FIGURE 17]

The over-all design of the plate of which this brass-struck fragment
represents approximately one-third can be rather accurately surmised
by comparing it with several of the ornamented buttons issued to the
infantry in 1812-1815. It is probably the work of the same
designer.[63] The plate is rectangular with clipped corners. Within a
raised border is an oval surrounded by cannon, cannon balls, and a
drum, with the unit designation "1 R{T} ART{Y}". At the top of the
oval can be seen grasping claws, obviously those of an eagle (as
sketched in by the artist) and similar to those on the buttons
referred to above. Single holes at the clipped corners provided means
of attachment. It seems probable that the design of the missing
portion also include flags and additional arms and accoutrements.

[Footnote 63: See JOHNSON, vol. 2, specimen nos. 183, 184, 210-213.]

¶ The design of the "yellow front plate" authorized and issued to the
Regiment of Light Artillery[64] in 1812 was unknown for many years. In
May 1961 one of the authors fortunately located this plate (fig. 20)
in the collections of the Niagara Historical Society Museum at
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, included in a group of British badges of
the War of 1812 period. There can be no doubt that the specimen is
American: the eagle's head is of the same design as that on the third
pattern 1812 infantry cap plate (fig. 9); the wreath of laurel appears
on both the 1800 and 1812 dragoon helmet plates; and the thunderbolts
in the eagle's right talon are wholly American, as opposed to British,
and are of the period. In the Fort Ticonderoga Museum collections
there is a gold signet ring (original owner unknown) that has an
almost identical design.

[Footnote 64: Letter dated February 26, 1812, from Irvine to Secretary
of War (Records AGO). In clothing returns for 1812 of light artillery
companies stationed at Williamsville, N. Y., "caps and plates" are
listed as being "on hand" (Records AGO).]

[Illustration: FIGURE 18.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

This is one of the largest plates ever worn by the Regular
Establishment. It measures 4-1/4 by 5-1/4 inches, and it is not
surprising that it was replaced because of its size. On May 19, 1814,
the Commissary General of Purchases wrote Lt. Col. J. R. Fenwick,
second-in-command of the light artillery, asking his opinion of a new
design and stating flatly: "The present light artillery plate is too
large by one-half."[65] The plate illustrated as figure 21 is offered
as a possible example of the 1814 design. A matching waist-belt plate
is described below (p. 34).

[Footnote 65: Letter in Records AGO.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 19.--Specimen in U.S. Army Artillery and Missile
Center Museum, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 20.--Specimen in Niagara Historical Society
Museum, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 21.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 22.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 23.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

There are four different patterns of riflemen's cap plates that can be
fairly bracketed in three periods. The large (6-1/4 by 5 inches)
diamond-shaped brass plate with the letters "R.R." (fig. 22) was
adopted for wear in the spring of 1812 as replacement for the letters
"USRR" that had been worn on the cap since the organization of the
Regiment of Riflemen in 1808. It was excavated in the interior of one
of the barracks comprising Smith's Cantonment at Sackets Harbor, New
York, where riflemen were stationed as early as August 1812. The style
of the "R" is very similar to that on the 1812 Artillery cap plate,
and the "R.R." designation conforms to that on the button authorized
for the riflemen in 1808. The pattern of the second diamond-shaped
plate (fig. 23), also in brass and almost identical in size, although
a ground find, is more difficult to account for, despite the fact that
it most certainly falls in the same period. The most logical
explanation seems that the riflemen, who considered themselves a cut
above the common infantry, became disgruntled with the utter plainness
of their plates when compared with those just issued the infantry, and
asked for and received, possibly late in 1812, the plate with the
eagle and the designation "U.S. Rifle Men." The fact that the plate
bears the designation "1 REG{T}"--although there were no other rifle
regiments from 1812 to 1814--can be explained by reference to the
"national color" of the Rifle Regiment completed in 1808, which bore
the inscription "1st Rifle Regt.--U.S." and the standard and national
color of the light artillery which were inscribed "The First Regiment
of Light Artillery" when there was never more than one light artillery
unit in the Army.[66] In any case, accurate dating of the third and
fourth patterns definitely places the second pattern in the 1812-1813
period by process of elimination. It was superseded in 1814[67] very
possibly for the same reason that the infantry plate was
changed--heaviness in both appearance and weight--and replaced by a
plate with a "design similar to that of the button ... flat yellow
buttons which shall exhibit a bugle surrounded by stars with the
number of the regiment within the curve of the bugle."[68] At least
three specimens of this third-pattern plate are known. They all are
3-1/4 inches in diameter, and thus are large enough for a hat
frontpiece and too large to be a cockade device. One of these plates
is without a numeral (fig. 24); one has the numeral "1," and one has
the numeral "4" (fig. 25). The first and second of these were found at
Fort Atkinson, but very probably were not worn as late as 1819-1821.
Portions of specimens of this 1814 plate have also been recovered from
an early Pawnee village site in Webster County, Nebraska, indicating
their possible use as trade goods after the rifle regiment changed its
plates in 1817.[69] The fourth pattern, with an eagle over a horn
(fig. 26) was authorized[70] in 1817. Apparently it was worn until
1821, since several examples of it have been found at Atkinson; other
examples also are known.

[Footnote 66: See KUHN, pp. 263-267, and DAVIS, pp. 13-14 and pl. 3.]

[Footnote 67: Act of February 10, 1814 (_Military Laws_, pp.

[Footnote 68: Letter dated January 12, 1814, from Irvine to Secretary
of War (Records AGO).]

[Footnote 69: See KIVETT, p. 59.]

[Footnote 70: A letter dated July 29, 1817, from Irvine to Secretary
of War describes the device; a letter dated August 4, 1817, from the
Adjutant and Inspector General (Daniel Parker) to Irvine authorizes
the plate but gives no description. Both letters are in Records AGO.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 24.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 25]

[Illustration: FIGURE 26.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 27.--Specimen in collection of Waverly P. Lewis,
Devon, Connecticut.]

The cap plate for the U.S. Military Academy, c. 1815, is illustrated
(fig. 27) because it completes the cycle for insignia of the Regular
Establishment for the period. Apparently it is the work of the same
designer as most of the insignia of the period 1812-1815. Scratched
on its reverse side is the name George W. Frost, a Virginian who
entered the Military Academy as a cadet in 1814 and resigned on March
8, 1816.

The two plates of the U.S. Marine Corps, despite the fact that they
are naval rather than military, are included because they fit very
precisely into the device design pattern of the strictly army items of
the period and because they are unique in their rarity.


_USNM 58671-N-(1). Figure 28._

[Illustration: FIGURE 28]

This specimen was extremely puzzling for many years. The design is
obviously that of the War of 1812 period, bearing strong similarity to
both the 1812 and 1814 infantry plates and the 1814 Artillery Corps
plate, possibly the work of the same die sinker. The 1804 Marine Corps
uniform regulations specified merely a "Brass Eagle and Plate," but
the 1807 regulations called for "Octagon plates."[71] Thus there was
considerable reluctance to accept this die sample as the authentic
design. In the summer of 1959, however, the authors, excavating at
Fort Tomkins, New York, which was known to have had a small barracks
for the use of naval personnel ashore, recovered parts of two brass
plates of this identical design, and in the octagon shape--that is,
rectangular with clipped corners (fig. 29). The design may thus be
precisely dated.

[Footnote 71: See MCCLELLAN, pp. 25, 44.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 29]

The specimen is struck in rectangular brass with a raised edge. The
whole is dominated by an eagle that is very similar to the eagles on
the infantry and artillery corps plates described above. The talons
grasp the shank of a large fouled anchor; a ribbon, held in the beak
and streaming overhead, is embossed with the motto "FORTITUDINE." The
whole is on a trophy of arms and flags, and below the lower raised
edge is embossed the word "MARINES." The excavated specimens vary
slightly in size, but average 3-3/8 by 4-3/4 inches. Reproductions of
this die strike were made prior to its acquisition by the National
Museum, and specimens outside the national collections should be
considered with caution.


_USNM 58671-N-(2). Figure 30._

[Illustration: FIGURE 30]

This specimen is known only in die samples. Because of its similarity
in design to the 1814 infantry plates, it cannot be dated later than
1825. Since no naval uniformed Militia units are known for the period
1815-1825, and since the plate is obviously not a device of the
regular Navy, it must be assigned to the Marine Corps. In studying
this plate, however, we must recognize the possibility that the maker
may have been designing and sinking dies in the hope of having a
sample accepted and approved for issue rather than actually executing
a contract. The plate is struck in rectangular brass, and the corners
are marked for clipping. The design, within a wide oval with raised
edge, consists of an eagle above a trophy of arms, flags, and a
shield. The right talon grasps a fluke of a fouled anchor, and the
left talon holds the pike of a stand of colors. Reproductions of this
die strike were made prior to its acquisition by the National Museum,
and specimens outside the national collections should be considered
with caution.

¶ The 1821 uniform regulations were significant in several respects:
cap plates were eliminated as distinctive insignia of the various
arms; the color of certain items of dress and equipment remained the
sole distinction; and the rules regarding nonregulation dress were
more precisely stated than before. The cap plates were replaced by
eagles, measuring 3 inches between wing tips, and the number of the
regiment was cut in the shield. Regulations tersely stated that "all
articles of uniform or equipment, more or less, than those prescribed,
or in any manner differing from them, are prohibited."[72] General and
staff officers were to wear black sword belts with "yellow plates";
artillery officers were to wear white waist belts with a yellow oval
plate 1-1/2 inches wide and with an eagle in the center; infantry
officers were to wear a similar plate that was white instead of
yellow. Cockade eagles for _chapeau de bras_ were to be gold and
measure 1-1/2 inches between wing tips. Since enlisted men were no
longer authorized to wear swords, they had no waist belts.

[Footnote 72: _General Regulations_, pp. 154-162.]


_USNM 66603-M. Figure 31._

[Illustration: FIGURE 31]

Although several "yellow" eagles that can be attributed to the
1821-1832 period are known, this brass specimen on the bell-crowned
cap is the only one known to the authors that has the prescribed
regimental number cut out of the shield. The button on the pompon
rosette--which appears to be definitely original to the cap, as does
the eagle--carries the artillery "A," thus the assignment to that
branch of the service. The eagle bears a close similarity to the
eagles on the 1812 and 1814 infantry cap plates and the 1807 Marine
Corps cap plate, and is possibly the work of the same designer.


_USNM 60364-M (SK-120). Figure 32._

[Illustration: FIGURE 32]

Early in 1822, the Secretary of War, acting on a suggestion of
Callendar Irvine, ordered that all metal equipment of the infantry be
of "white metal" in keeping with its pompons, tassels, and lace.[73]
This specimen, struck in copper and silvered, is believed to have been
issued as a result of that order.

[Footnote 73: Letter dated January 4, 1822, from Secretary of War to
Irvine (Records AGO).]

¶ The 1821 regulations stated that cockade eagles should measure 1-1/2
inches between wing tips. In 1832 this wingspread was increased to
2-1/2 inches. Thus, specimens of a relatively uniform pattern and
measuring approximately 1-1/2 inches in wingspread will be considered
as of the Regular Army, 1821-1832. Similarly, those of a relatively
uniform pattern and measuring approximately 2-1/2 inches in wingspread
are dated 1832-1851.


_USNM 60371-M (S-K 127). Figure 33._

[Illustration: FIGURE 33]

This eagle, struck in brass, has wings extended, head to the right,
federal shield on breast with no stars, olive branch in right talon,
and three arrows in left talon.


_USNM 60372-M (S-K 128). Not illustrated._

This eagle is struck from the same die as the preceding specimen, but
it is in white metal rather than brass.


_USNM 60367-M (S-K 123). Figure 34._

[Illustration: FIGURE 34]

Of silver on copper, this eagle is similar to the two preceding
specimens, but is struck from a variant die. It possibly was worn by
the Militia.


_USNM 60373-M (S-K 130). Figure 35._

[Illustration: FIGURE 35]

This specimen is very similar to those above, but it has 13 stars in
the shield on the eagle's breast.

¶ Despite the fact that it was found attached to a shako of distinct
Militia origin, the cap plate shown in figure 36 is believed to be
that prescribed for the cadets of the Military Academy in the 1821
uniform regulations and described as "yellow plate, diamond shape."
The letters "U S M A" in the angles of the diamond, the word "CADET"
at the top of the oval, what appears to be the designation "W POINT"
at the left top of the map, and the tools of instruction (so similar
to those embellishing the cadet diploma, although totally different
in rendering), make it difficult to assign this plate to any source
other than the Academy. It is possible, of course, that this was a
manufacturer's sample which was never actually adopted for wear at
West Point. The apparent maker's name, "CASAD," at the bottom of the
oval, does not appear in the city directories of any of the larger
manufacturing centers of the period.

[Illustration: FIGURE 36.--Specimen in West Point Museum, West Point,
New York.]


_USNM 60365-M (S-K 121). Figure 37._

[Illustration: FIGURE 37]

Despite the facts that there was no change in cap insignia authorized
in the 1832 uniform regulations and that this specimen is similar in
most respects to the 1821 eagle, its refinement of design and
manufacture indicates that it possibly belongs to the period of the
1830's and 1840's. It is struck in thin brass and has three plain wire
fasteners soldered to the reverse.


_USNM 60366-M (S-K 122). Not illustrated._

Although similar to the preceding plate, this specimen measures 3-1/4
by 2-1/4 inches, is struck from a different die, and has a much wider
breast shield. Of somewhat heavier brass than most such similar eagles
and exhibiting a well-developed patina, it may have been an officer's


_USNM 60276-M (S-K 34). Figure 38._

[Illustration: FIGURE 38]

When the dragoons returned to the Army in 1833, their cap device was
described as "a gilt star, silver eagle ... the star to be worn in
front."[74] An 8-pointed, sunburst-type star, this plate is struck in
brass and has a superimposed eagle that is struck in brass and
silvered. The eagle is basically the Napoleonic type adopted by the
British after the Battle of Waterloo and altered by omitting the
lightning in the talons and adding a wreath to the breast. Plain wire
fasteners are soldered to the back.

[Footnote 74: General Order No. 38, Headquarters of the Army, May 2,
1833. (Photostatic copy in files of division of military history,
Smithsonian Institution.)]

¶ In 1834, possibly as a result of the newly organized dragoons
receiving distinctive branch insignia, the infantry and artillery once
again were authorized devices on the dress cap designating their
particular arm. The gilt eagle was retained. Below the eagle was an
open horn with cords and tassels in silver for infantry, and cross
cannons in "gilt" for artillery. The number of the regiment was added
over the cannon or within the curve of the horn. These devices
remained in use until the change in headgear in 1851.


_USNM 62055-M, 62056-M (SK-1808, 1809). Figure 39._

[Illustration: FIGURE 39]

This eagle is similar to the 1821 pattern, although somewhat more
compact in design. It is struck in brass, has wings upraised, head to
the right, shield on breast, olive branch in right talon, and three
arrows in left talon. The open horn, struck in brass and silvered, is
suspended, with bell to the right, by four twisted cords tied in a
3-leaf-clover knot; the tassels on the four cord-ends hang below.


_USNM 60426-M (S-K 182). Figure 40._

[Illustration: FIGURE 40]

This is the "gilt ... cross cannons" device prescribed for artillery
in the 1834 regulations. Struck in sheet brass of medium thickness,
the superimposed cannon has trunnions and dolphins.


_USNM 604967-M (S-K 1111). Figure 41._

[Illustration: FIGURE 41]

Although uniform regulations for the period of the 1830's and 1840's
make no mention of a distinctive device for the dragoon forage cap,
photographs in the National Archives show that officers' caps, at
least, carried a 6-pointed star, apparently gold-embroidered.[75] This
specimen is believed to be such a star. Made of gold bullion and with
rather large sequins sewed onto a heavy paper background, the star is
mounted on dark blue wool. The points of the star are extended with
gold embroidery on the cloth.

[Footnote 75: TOWNSEND AND TODD, pp. 1-2.]


_USNM 604529 (S-K 676) Figure 42._

[Illustration: FIGURE 42]

In 1839 the cadets at the Military Academy discarded the bell-crowned
caps they had worn since 1821 and wore a cylindrical black shako
similar to that worn by the Regular artillery and infantry. The
artillery gilt eagle and crossed cannon replaced the diamond-shaped
plate on the front. In 1842-1843 the crossed cannon were replaced by
the engineer castle as more in keeping with the original mission of
the Academy and the general orientation of its curriculum.

Shortly after the beginning of hostilities with Mexico in 1846, the
Congress authorized the enlistment of a company of "engineer soldiers"
that was designated the Company of Sappers, Miners, and Pontoniers.
These were the first enlisted men authorized the Corps of Engineers
since the period of the War of 1812. The headgear for these men was
prescribed as "Schako--same pattern as that of the artillery, bearing
a yellow eagle over a castle like that worn by the Cadets."[76]

[Footnote 76: _General Regulations for the Army of the United States,
1847_, pp. 192-193.]

Struck in thin to medium brass, this plate is the familiar turreted
castle of the Corps of Engineers so well known today. It was worn
below the eagle.

¶ To complete the branches of the Regular Establishment during the
Mexican War period, the Regiment of Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen must
be mentioned, although they were apparently without any distinctive
branch insignia.

The regiment was constituted on February 11, 1847, and its uniform[77]
was prescribed 9 days later in the War Department's General Order
No. 7. However, the regiment was issued infantry woolen jackets and
trousers and never received what little gray issue clothing was sent
to them in Mexico almost a year later. Uniform trimmings were to be as
for the infantry, with the substitution of the letter "v" where
appropriate. So far as presently known, this substitution affected
only the button pattern--an appropriate letter "v" on the shield
centered on the eagle's breast.

[Footnote 77: A detailed description is given in _Military Collector
and Historian_ (June 1952), vol. 4, no. 2, p. 44.]

The 1851 uniform regulations radically changed almost every item of
the Army's dress. Most of the distinctive devices were also altered,
although more in size and composition than general design. Some
devices were completely eliminated. While officers retained insignia
of their arm or branch on their hats, enlisted personnel, with the
exception of those of engineers and ordnance, had only the letter of
their company, their particular arm being designated by the color of
collars, cuffs, bands on hats, pompons, epaulets, chevrons, and the
like. A newly designed sword or waist-belt plate was prescribed for
all personnel. All items of uniform and insignia authorized in 1851
were included in an illustrated edition of the Regulations for the
Uniform and Dress of the Army of the United States, June 1851,
published by William H. Horstmann and Sons, well-known uniform and
insignia dealers in Philadelphia.[78]

[Footnote 78: A partial republication of this work appears in
_Military Collector and Historian_, vol. 10, no. 1 (spring 1958), pp.
16, 17; no. 2 (summer 1958), pp. 43-45.]


_USNM 604853 (S-K 998). Figure 43._

[Illustration: FIGURE 43]

Worn attached to the base of the pompon by all enlisted personnel,
this brass eagle, similar in general design to that worn on the shako
in the 1830's, stands with wings upraised, olive branch in right
talon, three arrows in left talon, and a scroll, with national motto,
in beak. Above are stars, clouds, and bursts of sun rays. Officers
wore an eagle of similar design of gold embroidery on cloth.


_USNM 604862 (S-K 1007). Figure 44._

[Illustration: FIGURE 44]

This specimen, in accord with regulations, is on dark blue cloth and
consists of a gold-embroidered wreath encircling Old English letters
"U.S." in silver bullion. Embroidered insignia of this period were all
made by hand, and they varied considerably in both detail and size.
During the 1861-1865 period the same design was made about half this
size for wear on officers' forage caps, and the device appeared in
variant forms. One example is known where the numeral "15" is
embroidered over the letters "U.S.";[79] and Miller's _Photographic
History of the Civil War_ includes several photos of general officers
whose wreath insignia on the forage cap substitute small rank insignia
stars for the letters.

[Footnote 79: LEWIS, p. 64.]


_USNM 300720. Figure 45._

[Illustration: FIGURE 45]

On dark blue cloth, this device comprises a gold-embroidered wreath of
laurel and palm encircling a turreted castle in silver metal as
prescribed in regulations. Other examples are known with the castle


_USNM 604872 (S-K 1017). Figure 46._

[Illustration: FIGURE 46]

This specimen adheres almost exactly to the 1851 regulations, but it
lacks the number of the regiment as called for. The number was a
separate insignia embroidered above the cannon. The cannon are of gold
embroidery. The device was also made in gold metal imitation-embroidery
in several variant designs.


_USNM 604888 (S-K 1033). Figure 47._

[Illustration: FIGURE 47]

On dark blue cloth, this device is the well-known looped horn in gold
embroidery with three cords and tassels. The regimental number "4," in
silver bullion, lies within the loop of the horn. This insignia is
also common in metal imitation-embroidery.


_USNM 604520 (S-K 667). Figure 48._

[Illustration: FIGURE 48]

Struck in brass, this device was worn on the caps and coat collars of
ordnance enlisted personnel. Although the shell and flame insignia
appears in a number of variations of design, this specimen conforms
exactly to the regulations of 1851 as published by Horstmann.


_USNM 61618. Figure 49._

[Illustration: FIGURE 49]

The 1851 uniform regulations called for a "castle of yellow metal one
and five-eighths inches by one and one-fourth inches high" on both the
coat collar and the hat of "Engineer Soldiers." This specimen, struck
in brass, conforms exactly to the descriptions and drawing in the
Horstmann publication of the regulations.


_USNM 604879 (S-K 1024). Figure 50._

[Illustration: FIGURE 50]

Comprising crossed sabers of gold, with edges upward, this insignia is
similar to the well-known device worn by the Regular cavalry as late
as 1953.

¶ In 1846 the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was organized to
consolidate the northern route to the Pacific by establishing and
manning a series of posts along the Oregon Trail.[80] The outbreak of
the War with Mexico postponed this mission and the unit was diverted
to the theater of operations. Shortly after the regiment was
constituted it was authorized to wear a forage cap device prescribed
as "a gold embroidered spread eagle, with the letter R in silver, on
the shield."[81] No surviving specimen of this insignia is known, and
there seems some doubt that it was ever actually manufactured.[82]

[Footnote 80: Act of May 19, 1846 (_Military Laws_, pp. 371-372).]

[Footnote 81: General Order No. 18, June 4, 1846, War Department
(photostatic copy in files of division of military history,
Smithsonian Institution).]

[Footnote 82: Insignia of the riflemen are discussed by Townsend and
Todd, pp. 2-3.]


_USNM 604854 (SK 999). Figure 51._

[Illustration: FIGURE 51]

In 1850 the regiment was given a "trumpet" hat device. Officers were
to wear "a trumpet, perpendicular, embroidered in gold, with the
number of the regiment, in silver, within the bend."[83] This trumpet
is also known in metal imitation-embroidery. The prescribed regimental
number, which is illustrated in the Horstmann publication of the
regulations (pl. 15), is not included on the device, probably because
there was but one such unit in the Regular Establishment.

[Footnote 83: General Order No. 2, February 13, 1850, War Department
(photostatic copy in files of division of military history,
Smithsonian Institution).]


_USNM 62053-M (SK-1806). Figure 52._

[Illustration: FIGURE 52]

The same general order that gave rifle officers a gold-embroidered
trumpet prescribed for enlisted men a similar device to be of "yellow
metal." This insignia lasted but one year for the men in the ranks,
being unmentioned in the 1851 regulations.

Shoulder-Belt and Waist-Belt Plates

Oval shoulder-belt plates were worn by American officers during the
War of the Revolution, but no extant specimens are known. Highly
ornamented or engraved officers' plates for the period after 1790 are
in several collections (fig. 53) and others are illustrated in
contemporary portraits (fig. 54). Just what year shoulder-belt plates
were issued to enlisted personnel is unknown, but their use appears to
have been well established by 1812. The uniform regulations for that
year specified swords for sergeants of infantry to be "worn with a
white cross belt 3-1/2 inches wide," but nothing was said about a
device on the belt.[84]

[Footnote 84: General Order, Southern Department U.S. Army, January
24, 1813 (photostatic copy in files of division of military history,
Smithsonian Institution).]

[Illustration: FIGURE 53.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

Normally, brass or "yellow metal" plates were authorized for the
artillery and silvered or "white metal" for the infantry and dragoons,
as consonant with the rest of their trimmings. In actuality, however,
white-metal shoulder-belt plates do not seem to have been issued to
the infantry prior to 1814, and brass ones were still being issued in
1815.[85] Most of these plates were plain oval, although a few are
known that were struck with devices similar to those on cap plates;
and at least one rectangular cap plate, fitted with the two studs and
hook on the reverse normal to shoulder-belt plates, has been found. It
seems probable that these were officers' plates. Oval brass plates
have been found that are identical in size and construction to the
plain ones but with the letters "U.S." embossed on them; however,
these are difficult to date.

[Footnote 85: Letters from Irvine in Records AGO: To Colonel Bogardus
(Commanding Officer, 41st Infantry), February 16, 1814; to James
Calhoun, January 14, 1815; and to General Scott, January 31, 1815.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 54.--Portrait in collection of The Filson Club,
Louisville, Kentucky.]

It is extremely doubtful that waist-belt plates were issued to
enlisted personnel of foot units during this period. In 1808 enlisted
dragoons were authorized a waist-belt plate of tinned brass and, as
far as known, perfectly plain.[86]

[Footnote 86: Letter to the Purveyor of Public Supplies in 1808.]

The 1812 regulations prescribed for the light dragoons a "buff leather
waist belt, white plate in front with eagle in relief," and there is
the possibility that the light artillery had such. In actuality, there
was no call for a waist belt where a shoulder belt was authorized.
Neither civilian trousers nor the few surviving military "pantaloons"
of the period are fitted with belt loops, trousers being held up
either by suspenders or by being buttoned directly to the shirt or
waistcoat. No example of the dragoon plate has been found. However, a
rather tantalizing possibility exists--a fragment of a pewter belt
plate (fig. 55) was excavated at Sackets Harbor, New York, where the
light dragoons are known to have served. The 1816 regulations
specified for artillerymen "waist belts of white leather two inches
wide, yellow oval plate of the same width." It is not made clear,
however, whether this belt and plate was for officers only or for all
ranks. The unusually striking oval specimen (fig. 56) may be this
plate, but its ornateness indicates that this particular design was
for officers only.

[Illustration: FIGURE 55.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

[Illustration: FIGURE 56.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]


_USNM 12804. Figure 57._

[Illustration: FIGURE 57]

This plate was worn by Peter Gansevoort sometime during his military
career, probably after 1790. Gansevoort, between 1775 and his death in
1812, was successively major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and
brigadier general of New York State Militia and brigadier general U.S.
Army (1809-1812). Although distinctly Militia in design, the specimen
is included here as an example of the wide variety of such devices
worn by officers of the 1800-1821 period.

This plate is octagonal, slightly convex, and has beveled edges. The
design is hand engraved on copper, and the whole is gold plated.
Within an engraved border is the eagle-on-half-globe device of New
York State. Two studs and a hook soldered to the reverse are not
believed to be original.


_USNM 604313 (S-K 469). Figure 58._

[Illustration: FIGURE 58]

This rectangular, slightly convex plate of silver on copper has
beveled edges and a small slot in the center for the attachment of an
ornament. The ornament is missing, although it can be surmised that it
was an eagle. The reverse is fitted with two studs and a hook and
bears the hallmark of "W. Pinchin, Philad{a}." William Pinchin is
listed in the Philadelphia directory for 1809 as a silversmith at 326
Sassafras Street. The 1810 directory lists only "Widow of," but
another William Pinchin (probably the son) appears in the 1820's.


_USNM 60452-M (S-K 208). Figure 59._

[Illustration: FIGURE 59]

The design of this rectangular plate, struck in rather heavy brass, is
the same as that offered as the 1814-pattern cap plate for the light
artillery, although it is the product of a different and somewhat more
crudely sunk die. The piece is dominated by an eagle with wings
upraised, a shield on its breast, three arrows in its right talon, and
an olive branch in its left talon. Crossed cannon are in the
foreground, and there is a pile of six cannon balls in the lower right
corner. The whole is superimposed on a trophy of colors and bayoneted
muskets. Above is a 5-pointed "star of stars" made up of 20 5-pointed


_USNM 60448-M (S-K 204). Figure 60._

[Illustration: FIGURE 60]

The rectangular plate is struck in brass on a die of the same design
as that used in making the 1814 Artillery Corps cap plate, type I (p.
18). Before the strike was made, a piece of thin sheet iron, slightly
narrower than the finished product, was applied to the reverse of the
brass. After the strike, which shows through clearly on the iron, the
ends of this applied metal were bent inward into tongues for
attachments to the belt, and the remainder of the back was filled with
pewter. The edges of the obverse were then beveled to finish the
product. It seems very probable that plates such as this were produced
for sale to officers.


_USNM 60247 (S-K 5). Figure 61._

[Illustration: FIGURE 61]

This is a companion piece to the Artillery Corps waist-belt plate
described above. It was struck in brass from the die of the 1814
Artillery Corps cap plate, type I, again with a thin sheet of iron
applied to the reverse before the strike. There is no pewter filling;
the beveled edges of the piece together with the adhesive effect of
the strike--which shows through very clearly--holds on the back. The
plate is fitted with two simple bent-wire fasteners for attachment,
indicating that it was intended for ornamental use only. Like its
waist-belt plate counterpart, this specimen must be considered an
officer's device.


_USNM 60248-M (S-K 6). Figure 62._

[Illustration: FIGURE 62]

This specimen is of the same design as the 1814 Infantry cap plate,
type I (p. 15). It is oval, with raised edge. Within the oval is an
eagle with an olive branch in its beak, three arrows in its right
talon, and thunder bolts and lightning in its left talon. Below is a
trophy of stacked muskets, drum, flag, and shield. The plate is silver
on copper, with sheet-iron backing and bent-wire fasteners. As in the
case of the Artillery Corps plate, just preceding, this must be
considered an officer's plate. A similar oval plate bearing the design
of the 1812 dragoon cap plate, and of similar construction, is known.


_USNM 66478-M. Figures 63, 64._

[Illustration: FIGURE 63]

[Illustration: FIGURE 64]

Excavated on the site of Smith's Cantonment at Sackets Harbor, New
York, this plate is interesting in that it differs in both
construction and method of attachment from similar plates of the same
period in the national collections. Rather than being struck in thin
brass with a backing and fasteners applied to the reverse, this
specimen is cast in brass and the edges rather unevenly beveled, with
two studs and a narrow tongue for attachment cast integrally with the
plate and with hexagonal heads forced over the ends of the studs. This
means of attachment, which indicates that the plate was intended to be
utilitarian as well as merely ornamental, is similar to that on
British plates of the period between the Revolution and the War of
1812. The plate could have been worn by either infantry or artillery,
for both were issued brass plates during this period,[87] however, it
is more probable that it was worn by the infantry, since the majority
of the artillery in the Sackets Harbor area were stationed nearby at
either Fort Pike or Fort Tomkins.

[Footnote 87: Letters from Irvine in Records AGO: To Colonel Bogardus,
February 16, 1814; to James Calhoun, January 14, 1815.]


_USNM 604311 (S-K 467). Figure 65._

[Illustration: FIGURE 65]

The plain, oval, slightly convex plate of brass has a raised edge. The
face is lapped over a piece of sheet-iron backing. On the reverse is
soldered an early form of bent-wire fasteners. British shoulder-belt
plates of the Revolutionary period normally had fasteners cast as
integral parts of the plate proper.


_USNM 604312 (S-K 468). Not illustrated._

This plate is identical to the one described immediately above except
that it is struck in copper and the surface is silvered.


_USNM 604314 (S-K 470). Not illustrated._

This plate, struck from solid brass, has a slightly beveled edge and
bent-wire fasteners. It is slightly convex. Since it is smaller than
the two preceding plates, it could have been designed for the Militia.


_USNM 60399-M (S-K 155). Figure 66._

[Illustration: FIGURE 66]

The two specimens of this plate in the national collections are
undocumented. Similar in size and construction to the plain oval brass
and silvered plates, it has the raised letters "U.S.," three-fourths
inch high in the center. Definitely not later than 1832, it may well
have been issued soon after the end of the War of 1812. It is
considered a Regular Army item since the Militia did not use the
designation "U.S." at this early period. In this latter connection it
is interesting to note that an example of the 1812 Infantry cap plate,
type II, with the letters "US" crudely stamped out, is known attached
to a cap of distinct Militia origin.


_USNM 38212. Figure 67._

[Illustration: FIGURE 67]

After the War of 1812, the State of New York presented swords to
several prominent officers of the Army and Navy who had distinguished
themselves in actions within New York or near its borders. One of
these swords (USNM 10294)[88] and an unusually fine gold embroidered
belt (USNM 33097) with this gold belt buckle were presented to Maj.
Gen. Jacob Brown.

[Footnote 88: Detailed descriptions of this sword are given by HAROLD
L. PETERSON, pp. 193-194, and BELOTE, pp. 30-31.]

Chased in very fine gold, the buckle is considered by experts in the
goldsmithing and silversmithing fields to be one of the outstanding
pieces of American craftsmanship of its kind.[89] The central motif is
the New York State eagle-on-half-globe device on a wreath of the
colors. The head of the eagle is very similar to that on the cap
plates of the 1807 Marine Corps, 1812 infantry, and 1814 Artillery
Corps. The border is of a rose pattern distinctly American in feeling,
and in each corner within the border are acanthus leaves in unusually
delicate Viennese baroque design.

[Footnote 89: Mr. Michael Arpad, well known and highly regarded
silversmith, of Washington, D.C., has called this specimen "an
exquisite piece of work by a master craftsman."]

The maker of this buckle is unknown, but since it is reasonably
certain that the hilt of the sword was designed by Moritz Furst (see
p. 12), it is possible that the design of the buckle is his also,
especially in view of the Viennese touch in the acanthus leaves, his
training at the mint in Vienna, and the probability that he designed
the 1812 infantry cap plate.

¶ Although the 1821 regulations were very specific about the
prohibition of nonregulation items of uniform and equipment, they were
somewhat vague regarding specifications. General staff and engineer
officers were to wear black belts with a "yellow plate," artillery
"yellow oval plates ... with an eagle in the center," and infantry the
same but "white" instead of yellow.[90] No oval plates meeting these
vague descriptions are known, but the specimens described below may
well have been those actually approved by the Ordnance Department, and
thus, worn.

[Footnote 90: _General Regulations for the Army_, pp. 154-162.]


_USNM 604118-M (S-K 274). Figure 68._

[Illustration: FIGURE 68]

This plate, struck in copper and silvered, is round with an outer
ring. It is attached to a white buff belt. The plate proper contains
an eagle with wings outspread, shield on breast, olive branch in right
talon, and three arrows in left talon. The whole is within a ring of
24 5-pointed stars. The outer ring is decorated as a wreath, and the
narrow rectangular belt attachments are embossed with a floral
pattern. The 24 stars place this specimen between 1822 and 1836.
Similar buckles are known in yellow metal for either staff or
artillery and containing 24, 26, and 28 stars, indicating that they
probably were worn until the rectangular eagle-wreath plate was
prescribed in 1851.


_USNM 60454 (S-K 210). Figure 69._

[Illustration: FIGURE 69]

This specimen is offered as another possibility for the 1821
regulation plate. It is identical in size and similar in design to the
preceding plate. The plate proper contains an eagle with wings spread,
a breast shield containing the letter "I," an olive branch in right
talon, and three arrows in left talon. There is no outer ring of
stars. The outer ring of the buckle is decorated with a wreath, but
the rectangular belt attachments are plain. The 1821 regulations
called for eagle buttons of "yellow" and "white" metal with the
letters "A" and "I" (for artillery and infantry) on the eagle's
shield, and the belt plate may have been designed to conform. There is
also the possibility that this plate, as well as the one described
below, was designed to conform to the 1835 regulations which
prescribed a waist belt with a "round" clasp.[91]

[Footnote 91: _General Regulations for the Army of the United States_,
p. 222.]


_USNM 60455-M (S-K 211). Not illustrated._

Nearly identical to the infantry officer's plate above, this buckle,
in brass, has the artillery "A" on the eagle's breast shield.

¶ Although the regulations for this period do not mention
shoulder-belt plates for enlisted men (officers had none as they wore
their swords on their waist belts), it can be assumed that they were
worn. The two specimens described below must be dated later than
1812-1821 because of the belt attachments. The earlier specimens had
rudimentary bent-wire fasteners, but these, more refined, have two
round studs and a hook soldered to the plate proper.


_USNM 604316 (S-K 472). Figures 70, 71._

[Illustration: FIGURE 70]

[Illustration: FIGURE 71]

This plate, of silver on copper, is plain oval and slightly convex.


_USNM 604315 (S-K 471). Not illustrated._

This specimen is identical to the preceding one except that it is in
plain brass.

¶ The 1832 uniform regulations brought some well-defined changes.
General and staff officers were to wear gilt waist-belt plates "having
the letters U S and a sprig of laurel on each side in silver," and the
bottom of the skirts of officers' coats were to bear distinctive
devices--a gold-embroidered star for general officers and officers of
the general staff, a shell and flame in gold embroidery for artillery
officers, and silver-embroidered bugles for infantry officers.


_USNM 664. Figure 72._

[Illustration: FIGURE 72]

The plate and the belt to which it is attached formerly belonged to
Capt. Charles O. Collins, an 1824 graduate of the Military Academy.
The belt is of patent leather, as specified for undress wear, and is
1-1/2 inches wide. The plate is cast in brass and has raised edges.
Rather than having "a sprig of laurel on each side," it has a wreath
of laurel enclosing the letters "U S," in Old English, in silvered
metal affixed to the front. It is attached on the right side by a
rectangular belt attachment with a flat hook on the left rear.

¶ The 1832 regulations specified for engineer officers a waist-belt
plate to be "gilt, elliptical, two inches in the shortest diameter,
bearing the device of the button." Such a plate (fig. 73) is in the
collections of the Valley Forge Chapel Museum. It is entirely possible
that this plate is even earlier than 1832, for the 1821 and 1825
regulations state that the engineer buttons were to contain "the
device and motto heretofore established."

[Illustration: FIGURE 73]

In the collections of the West Point Museum is a button, carrying the
"Essayons" device, that was excavated in the area behind the "Long
Barracks," which burned in 1825. Another such button excavated at
Sackets Harbor on the site of an 1812-1815 barracks bears a maker's
name (Wishart) of the 1812-1816 period.


_USNM 604145-M (S-K 301). Figure 74._

[Illustration: FIGURE 74.--Specimen in Valley Forge Chapel Museum,
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.]

This buckle is similar to the one (shown in fig. 73) that belonged to
Capt. Charles O. Collins, but it is different in that the letters
"U.S." are enclosed not by a laurel wreath but by a sprig of laurel on
the right side and a sprig of palm on the left. The 1841 uniform
regulations specified such a belt plate for officers of the Corps of
Engineers, but with a "turreted castle, raised in silver" rather than
the letters "U.S." This places the probable date of manufacture of
this specimen in the 1840's.


_USNM 8040. Figure 75._

[Illustration: FIGURE 75]

This skirt ornament, on buff cloth, is from a coat worn by Capt.
Thomas Swords when he was assistant quartermaster general in 1838. The
design consists of three 6-pointed stars of gold bullion cord: a line
star of twisted cord superimposed upon a larger star of closely
stitched cord that in turn is superimposed upon a still larger star of
sunburst type.


_USNM 62057-M (S-K 181). Figure 76._

[Illustration: FIGURE 76]

Like the preceding specimen, this ornament, on buff cloth, is
comprised of three stars. A star made of lines of sequins secured by
two strands of twisted bullion is superimposed upon a 6-pointed star
of gold embroidery that in turn is superimposed upon a 6-pointed star
made up of gold sequins secured by gold bullion cord.


_USNM 15929. Figure 77._

[Illustration: FIGURE 77]

This specimen, on red cloth, is on a coat worn by William Tecumseh
Sherman when he was a lieutenant in the 3d Artillery. The bomb is made
of whorls of gold bullion cord, while the flames are composed of
curving lines of twisted bullion. The lowest flame on either side
terminates in arrow heads.

There are a number of gold-embroidered shell and flame devices in the
national collections, all varying considerably in size and
composition. Some are skirt ornaments for artillery officers, both
Regular Army and Militia, while some are cap ornaments for ordnance
officers. Indeed, two coats formerly belonging to Maj. Levi Twiggs,
U.S. Marine Corps, carry the same device.


_USNM 59861-M. Figure 78._

[Illustration: FIGURE 78]

The silver coat-skirt horn ornaments of infantry officers varied
almost as much as the shell and flame devices, generally in relation
to the affluence of the individual concerned. Unlike such ornaments of
the other services, the horns were paired in rights and lefts on the

This specimen, of silver bullion cord, is on a coat that once belonged
to Lt. William Williams Mather, an 1828 graduate of the Military
Academy who left the service in 1836. The horn is looped, and it is
suspended by twisted bullion from a simple 3-leaf-clover knot. The
whole is backed on blue cloth.


_USNM 1056. Figure 79._

[Illustration: FIGURE 79]

This rather elaborate specimen is on a coat worn by John Porter Hatch
when he was a lieutenant of infantry in 1845. The body of the
horn--which is merely curved rather than looped--is made of silver
lamé encircled by three ornamented bands of bullion. The mouthpiece
and bell are of bullion. The whole is suspended by a rather ornate
3-leaf-clover knot of bands of edged bullion and is backed on blue


_USNM 22702. Figure 80._

[Illustration: FIGURE 80]

The uniform regulations for the period 1832-1846 carry no mention of
coat-skirt ornaments for the Corps of Topographical Engineers, rather
only prescribing the "slashed skirt flaps to be embroidered in gold,
with oak leaves and acorns" like the collar and cuffs. There is in the
national collections, however, a uniform for the Corps that
corresponds with 1839 regulations in every way except that the coat
skirts carry this ornament--a shield within a wreath of oak leaves--of
gold embroidery. The device appears to be of the same vintage as the
other embroidery on the coat.

¶ Although the 1832 uniform regulations make no mention of swords for
noncommissioned officers, in 1833 the Ames Manufacturing Company of
Chicopee, Massachusetts, began the manufacture of a new sword for the
Regular artillery. Based on a European pattern, this weapon was the
popular conception of the short Roman stabbing sword, or _gladius_. In
1834 this weapon was also authorized for infantry noncommissioned

[Footnote 92: _Regulations for the Government of the Ordnance
Department_, p. 64; and HAROLD L. PETERSON, pp. 42-43.]


_USNM 654384 (S-K 531). Figure 81._

[Illustration: FIGURE 81]

This is the belt-plate assembly designed for carrying the short "Roman
pattern" NCO sword. The plate is of two round pieces joined by an
S-hook that is open on one end for unbuckling. Each round piece has a
flat loop for attachment to the white buff belt. The right-hand round
piece has an eagle with head to the left, wings drooping, three arrows
in the right talon, and an olive branch in the left talon. The
left-hand piece has crossed cannons and the letters "U.S." The whole
is cast in rough bronze.

Assemblies of this type were popularly known as "Dingee" belts,
because one of the primary contractors for them was Robert Dingee of
New York City. The eagle on this plate is very similar to the one on
Dingee's contract rifle flasks of 1832.[93]

[Footnote 93: See PATTERSON, p. 8.]


_USNM 604111 (S-K 267). Figure 82._

[Illustration: FIGURE 82]

This plate and belt are identical to the artillery specimen above
except that the left-hand round portion exhibits three stacked muskets
and a drum instead of crossed cannon.

[Illustration: FIGURE 83.--Specimen in collection of William E. Codd,
Towson, Maryland.]

¶ NCO belt plates similar to the two above also appeared in what might
be called a staff or branch immaterial pattern, with the crossed
cannon and/or stacked muskets and drum replaced by the letters "US"
alone (fig. 83). This pattern apparently was intended for wear by
NCO's other than those assigned to the infantry, artillery, or


_USNM 5664. Figure 84._

[Illustration: FIGURE 84]

This plate, which formerly belonged to Gen. William S. Harney when he
commanded the 2d Dragoons in 1836, is identical to the general and
staff officers' plate of the 1832 regulations except that the letters
"U.S." have been replaced by the letter "D" in Old English, as

[Footnote 94: General Order No. 38, Headquarters of the Army, May 2,
1833 (photostatic copy in files of the division of military history,
Smithsonian Institution).]


_USNM 604114-M (S-K 268). Figure 85._

[Illustration: FIGURE 85]

The 1835 uniform regulations replaced the rather impractical S-hook
NCO belt plate with a "round clasp" on which the branch designation
was replaced with the raised letters "U S." Similar in over-all design
to the 1821 officers' plate, round with outer ring, these plates were
rough cast in brass and had a stippled surface.


_USNM 604114 (S-K 270). Not illustrated._

This specimen is very similar to the preceding plate, but it is of a
definitely different casting and is generally heavier in over-all
appearance, the inner ring is much more convex, and the letters "U S"
are raised only slightly and spread farther apart.


_USNM 40886. Figure 86._

[Illustration: FIGURE 86]

The 1839 uniform regulations specified a shoulder belt (rather than a
waist belt) for carrying the sword, with a "breast plate according to
the pattern to be furnished by the Ordnance Department." This plate,
which was worn by Capt. Erastus Capron, 1st Artillery, an 1833
graduate of the Military Academy, is believed to be that
specified.[95] The specimen is rectangular with beveled edges, cast in
brass, and has the lines of a modified sunburst radiating outward. In
the center, within a wreath of laurel, are the letters "U S" in Old
English. Both the wreath and letters are of silvered copper and are
applied. The plate is attached by three broad hooks rather than two
studs and a hook.

[Footnote 95: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (April 1841), illustrations for
"United States Infantry, Full Dress" and "United States Artillery


_USNM 604330 (S-K 486). Not illustrated._

This plate is almost identical to the Capron specimen above except
that the letters "U S," instead of being in Old English, are formed of
oak leaves.


_USNM 22702. Figure 87._

[Illustration: FIGURE 87]

The 1839 uniform regulations prescribed this plate for the Corps of
Topographical Engineers. The oval inner plate, which contains the
prescribed eagle, shield, and the letters "U S" in Old English, is
struck in medium weight copper and gilded. This inner plate is
soldered to a cast-bronze and gilded tongue which in turn is brazed to
a cast-bronze belt attachment. The oval outer ring, bearing the
prescribed "CORPS OF TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS" in Roman capitals, is
cast in brass and gilded. To the inner edge of this outer ring are
brazed two curved seats for the inner oval. The whole is brazed to the
belt attachment, also cast in brass and gilded.

¶ In view of the large and somewhat elaborate cap plates as well as
shoulder-belt plates adopted by both the Regulars and Militia early in
the 19th century, it is somewhat surprising that apparently neither
component had ornamentation on its cartridge boxes until the Ordnance
Regulations of 1834 prescribed a very ornate design embossed on the
leather flap.[96] Certainly there was precedent for such, for both the
British and German mercenary troops of the Revolution and the British
and Canadian troops of the War of 1812 wore metal ornaments on their
cartridge boxes. At least partial explanation for this omission may
lie in one of Callender Irvine's reasons for rejecting brass cartridge
boxes in favor of leather ones: "The leather ... affords no mark for
the enemy to sight at. The brass ... would afford a central object, as
regards the body of the Soldier, and one which would be seen at a
great distance to fire at."[97] Why Irvine did not object equally to
the large white and yellow metal cap and shoulder-belt plates as
targets is unknown. In any case--with a possible few Militia
exceptions such as a Militia cartridge box with a plate bearing the
likeness of Washington in silver, both about 1835--the 1839 model oval
plates were the first to be worn.

[Footnote 96: _See Military Collector and Historian_ (June 1950), vol.
2, no. 2, pp. 29-30.]

[Footnote 97: Letter dated June 29, 1813, from Irvine to Secretary of
War (Records AGO).]

The ordnance regulations of 1839 and the ordnance manual of 1841
brought in two distinctly new types of plates, the familiar brass oval
waist-belt and cartridge-box plates with the letters "U. S." and the
round shoulder-belt plate with the eagle. The oval plates fall into
two general sizes, 3.5 inches by 2.2 inches (for plates on the
infantry's cartridge box and the cavalry's waist belts)[98] and 2.8
inches by 1.6 inches (for plates on the infantry's waist belts and the
cavalry's carbine cartridge boxes and pistol cartridge boxes). The use
of each plate is determined by the type of fastener. These plates were
struck in thin brass and the backs generally leaded, although some
were used without such backing, probably to save both weight and
material. Cartridge boxes were also embossed with the outline of this
oval plate in lieu of the plate itself. It is interesting to note that
the larger plates with lead backs weighed about 5-1/2 ounces and the
smaller ones just over 2 ounces.

[Footnote 98: The cavalry waist-belt plate is actually specified to be
3.6 inches by 2.2 inches.]


_USNM 604408 (S-K 555). Figures 88, 89._

[Illustration: FIGURE 88]

[Illustration: FIGURE 89]

The specimen is oval, slightly convex, and struck in thin brass. The
face has a raised edge and the letters "U S." The reverse is leaded,
carries two studs and a hook (indicating its use), and is stamped with
the maker's name, "W. H. Smith, Brooklyn." Smith is listed in New York
City directories of the Civil War period as a contractor for metal and
leather supplies.


_USNM 604403 (S-K 550). Figure 90._

[Illustration: FIGURE 90]

This plate is identical to the preceding one except that it is leaded
and fitted with two looped-wire fasteners. The reverse is stamped with
the name of the maker, "J. L. Pittman," who, like Smith, was a
contractor in the New York City area in the Civil War period.


_USNM 604395 (S-K 542). Not illustrated._

This is the oval "US" plate of the smaller size (2-3/4 by 1-1/8 in.),
otherwise identical to the larger plate. It is fitted with two
looped-wire fasteners.


_USNM 604398 (S-K 545). Figure 91._

[Illustration: FIGURE 91]

This specimen is identical to the preceding plate except that it is
fitted with two brass hooks for attachment to the belt and the reverse
is stamped with the maker's name, "Boyd & Sons." No trace of a
manufacturer of such products by the name of Boyd has been found. It
is probable that he worked during the Civil War period when there were
many such contractors.


_USNM 604399 (S-K 546). Not illustrated._

This plate is identical to those above except that the reverse is
stamped with the maker's name. "H. A. Dingee."


_USNM 604397 (S-K 544). Figure 92._

[Illustration: FIGURE 92]

The reverse side of this plate is fitted with the rather rudimentary
wire fasteners similar to those on shoulder-belt plates of the
1812-1821 period. In other respects the specimen is identical to the
preceding ones of 1839.

¶ The 1839 regulations specified a bayonet-belt plate "round, brass,
with eagle." The 1841 ordnance manual was more exact, specifying the
plate to be "brass, circular, 2.5 in. diameter, with an Eagle," and
then stating: "The bayonet belt is about to be discontinued ..."
Although not so authorized at the time, this plate, so familiar during
the Civil War period, was switched over to the shoulder belt
supporting the cartridge box. Such plates were manufactured in great
quantities and in many variations of the original design by a dozen or
more contractors during the period 1861-1865.


_USNM 60338-M (S-K 94). Figure 93._

[Illustration: FIGURE 93]

This circular plate, with raised rim, is dominated by an eagle of
refined design that is very similar to the eagles appearing on the War
of 1812 plates. The eagle has its wings drooped, head to the left,
three arrows in the right talon, and an olive branch in the left
talon. This specimen can be dated with the earliest cartridge-box
plates because of its backing and the type of fasteners. Whereas the
backs of the later models were lead-filled, this plate was struck in
thin brass over tin and the edges of the obverse crimped to retain the
backing. The fasteners are of the bent-wire type typical of the
1812-1832 period and are not the "2 eyes of iron wire" called for in
the ordnance manual of 1850. None of the later examples of this design
evidence any of the refinement of the original. At least eight
variations are represented in the national collections.


_USNM 60339-M (S-K 95). Not illustrated._

This is a die sample, struck in copper, of the plate described above.


_USNM 38017. Figures 94, 95._

[Illustration: FIGURE 94]

[Illustration: FIGURE 95]

The 1851 regulations prescribed this plate for all officers and
enlisted men. It was specified to be "gilt, rectangular, two inches
wide, with a raised bright rim; a silver wreath of laurel encircling
the 'Arms of the United States'; eagle, scroll, edge of cloud and rays
bright. The motto, 'E Pluribus Unum,' in silver letters upon the
scroll; stars also of silver; according to pattern."[99]

[Footnote 99: _Regulations for the Uniform and Dress_, pl. 21.]

This plate has had a longer history than any other similar Army
device. It was authorized for all personnel until 1881 when it was
dropped as an item of enlisted equipment. It was retained for
officers, first for general wear, then for dress only. It was worn
with officers' dress blue uniforms until 1941, but was not revived
when blues reappeared after World War II. A plate of the same general
size and pattern, although gilt in its entirety, was prescribed for
senior NCO's of the Marine Corps until about 1950 or 1951.

The buckle appears in many variations of design, at least 12 being
represented in the national collections. Many of these variations are
the result of the plate being produced in great numbers by many
different contractors during the Civil War. The original design itself
is interesting. The 1851 description called for an "edge of cloud and
rays" and the official, full size drawing in _Regulations for the
Uniform and Dress of the Army_ includes the "edge of cloud" and
pictures the eagle with its head to the heraldic left. At least 50 of
these plates were examined by the authors, but only this specimen had
the "edge of cloud," silver letters and stars, and the eagle with its
head to the left. In most specimens the plate proper is bronze, in one
piece, and with the wreath silvered or left plain; in a few specimens
the wreath is in white metal and has been applied after casting. This
particular specimen is of an early issue. It is cast in heavy brass,
with the wreath applied, and has the narrow brass tongue for
attachment on the reverse (fig. 95), typical of the early types.


_USNM. 60342-M (S-K 98). Figure 96._

[Illustration: FIGURE 96]

This is a sample struck from a die which apparently was not approved
for the 1851 pattern plate. The eagle has wings upraised (2 inches tip
to tip), head to right, shield on breast, scroll with "E Pluribus
Unum" in beak, three arrows in right talon, and an olive branch in
left talon. Stars are intermixed with "edge of cloud" and rays.

The specimen leads to the interesting speculation as to the weight
given to correct heraldic usage at this period. The significance of
the clouds, or lack of them, is unknown, but it should be noted that
in all but the earliest specimens the eagle's head is turned to the
right, or the side of honor, and the olive branch is placed in the
right talon, indicating peaceful national motives as opposed to the
three arrows, signs of belligerency, in the left talon. In this
respect, it is interesting to note that until 1945 the eagle on the
President's seal and flag carried its head turned to the heraldic

_Insignia of the Uniformed Militia_

Cap and Helmet Devices


_USNM 14978. Figure 97._

[Illustration: FIGURE 97]

This silver ornament is one of the most unusual pieces of military
insignia in the national collections. Obviously military, it is just
as obviously of Militia origin. Although hardly artistic in design, it
has a rather attractive simplicity and has been made with considerable
care. The eagle is of the "frogleg" design that first appeared on
buttons of the post-Revolutionary Army and, later on, of the Legion.
In its right talon the eagle is grasping what appear to be rather
stylized thunderbolts, and in its left, arrows. The arc above the
eagle's head is comprised of sunrays, an edge of clouds, and 16
6-pointed stars. If the number of stars is of significance, the piece
would date prior to November 1802 when the 17th state, Ohio, was
admitted to the union. The "frog-legged" aspect of the design would
tend to confirm such dating, and the thunderbolts in the right talon,
symbolic of a belligerent attitude, could be attributed to the
national temper during the "quasi war" with France, 1798-1800. The
"ID," in delicate floriated script on the eagle's breast, quite out of
consonance with the design and execution of the piece proper and
obviously the work of a talented engraver, is interpreted as
"Independent Dragoons." Too small for a hat frontpiece, it was
probably worn as a side ornament on a dragoon helmet.


_USNM 60257-M (S-K 15). Figure 98._

[Illustration: FIGURE 98]

The leather fan cockade became a part of the uniform in the late 18th
century, having evolved from the cloth cockade adopted early in the
Revolution.[100] Enlisted men's cockades of the early 19th century
were of leather, as were those of line officers.[101] This cockade, of
black tooled leather with painted gold fan tips, was a common form of
the period and was worn with an eagle in the center or possibly on the
upper fan. It is assigned to the Militia because of the gold

[Footnote 100: FINKE, pp. 71-73.]

[Footnote 101: TODD, "Three Leather Cockades," pp. 24-25.]

CAP PLATE, C. 1810

_USNM 60275-M (S-K 33). Figure 99._

[Illustration: FIGURE 99]

This grenadier-type plate, which is untrimmed and thus may be a die
sample, is a rare example of the use of coiled snakes as a military
device after 1800. A familiar motif of the Revolution, coiled snakes
were not revived as a popular military symbol during the War of 1812.
This specimen is struck in brass and is believed to have been made for
a specific independent Militia organization, designation unknown, for
wear prior to 1812.

COCKADE EAGLE, 1812-1815

_USNM 60361-M (S-K 117). Figure 100._

[Illustration: FIGURE 100]

The eagle-on-clouds design, which first appeared on coins on the 1795
silver dollar, was popular on insignia during the period 1812-1821.
The heraldic significance of the clouds, if any, is unknown. Somewhat
larger than most cockade devices, this eagle is struck in brass and
silvered and has two simple wire fasteners soldered to the reverse. A
very similar badge is shown by Rembrandt Peale in an oil portrait of
Col. Joseph O. Bogart of the 3d Flying Artillery.[102]

[Footnote 102: Reproduced in _Antiques_ (July 1947), vol. 52, no. 7,
p. 16.]


_USNM 60379-M (S-K 135). Figure 101._

[Illustration: FIGURE 101]

This eagle, of the general design first seen on the 1807 half-dollar,
is very similar to the one on buttons ascribed to staff officers,
1814-1821.[103] The eagle, struck in brass, has wings upraised and the
familiar hooked beak; it stands on a wreath of the colors. The wire
fasteners on the reverse are of a somewhat unusual type and may not be

[Footnote 103: JOHNSON, specimen nos. 101-105.]

¶ Die work for cap, shoulder-belt, and waist-belt plates was
expensive, and many Militia organizations found it expedient to
purchase devices "ready made" from existing dies. By varying the
trimming and adding borders of various designs, the same dies could be
used to strike all three types of plates. Such badges are called
"common" plates.

The common plates that follow were very popular during the period
1812-1835 and, although relatively rare today, were made in
considerable quantity and in many die variations for the Militia in
every part of the country. They are known in brass, copper, and
silver-on-copper. It is possible that specimens such as these may have
been worn by some officers of the Regular Establishment between 1814
and 1821.

CAP PLATE, 1814-1825(?)

_USNM 60263-M (S-K 21). Figure 102._

[Illustration: FIGURE 102]

This is a typical example of the common plates of the 1814-1835
period. The piece is struck in brass and has an edged and stippled
border. The design is dominated by an eagle with wings outspread, head
to left, arrows in right talon, olive branch in left talon, and with
the national motto on a ribbon overhead. The whole is superimposed on
a trophy of arms and colors with an arc of 13 6-pointed stars above. A
plume socket, apparently original, is soldered to the reverse, as are
two looped-wire fasteners. The fasteners are of a later period.

CAP PLATE, 1814-1825(?)

_USNM 60264-M (S-K 22). Figure 103._

[Illustration: FIGURE 103]

Struck in copper and silvered, this piece is a die variant of the
preceding plate. A floral border replaces the plain border, and the
overhead arc has 5-pointed rather than 6-pointed stars. The floral
border marks it as probably an officer's device.

CAP PLATE, 1814-1825(?)

_USNM 60313-M (S-K 69). Figure 104._

[Illustration: FIGURE 104]

A die variant of the preceding plate, this device has an unusually
wide floral border. As in so many of the common pieces of this period,
the center device was purposely designed small so that the die could
be used to strike matching waist-belt plates. Examples of waist-belt
plates struck from dies of this particular design are known. Struck in
copper, there is a plume socket soldered to the reverse along with two
looped-wire fasteners. The fasteners are not contemporary.

CAP PLATE, 1814-1825(?)

_USNM 60314-M (S-K 70). Figure 105._

[Illustration: FIGURE 105]

This is a die variant of the three plates immediately preceding.
However, the center device lacks the fineness of detail of the others,
a fact that suggests that several makers working with different die
sinkers produced this basic pattern. The plate is struck in copper,
and originally it had a plume socket attached to the reverse. The
present looped-wire fasteners are not original.

CAP PLATE, 1814-1825(?)

_USNM 60299-M (S-K 57). Figure 106._

[Illustration: FIGURE 106]

This plate, which is of brass, is of a less common design than its
predecessors. However, since there is another such plate, but of
silver-on-copper, in the national collections, it can be surmised that
pieces of this same pattern were made for use by several different

A floral-bordered shield is topped by an out-sized sunburst with 13
stars, clouds, and the motto "Unity is Strength." In the center of
the shield is the eagle, with wings widely outspread and with
lightning bolts in the right talon and an olive branch in the left
talon. The lightning bolt device, obvious sign of belligerency, first
appeared about 1800 and is not seen in plates designed after 1821. The
motto and the date 1776 are far more typical of Militia than Regular
Army usage.

¶ In 1821 the Regular Army discarded all its large cap plates and
adopted the bell-crown leather cap. Militia organizations lost no time
in adopting a similar cap and, conversely, placing on it--and on the
tall beaver which followed in the 1830's--the largest plates it could
accommodate, using variations of discarded Regular Army patterns as
well as original designs.

From 1821 until well into the 1840's large cap plates were
mass-produced by manufacturers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and
perhaps other cities of the New England metal manufacturing area. The
few early platemakers, such as Crumpton and Armitage of Philadelphia
and Peasley of Boston, were joined by a number of others. Prominent
among these were Charles John Joullain, who made plates in New York
during the 1820's, and William Pinchin of Philadelphia. Joullain is
first listed in New York directories, in 1817, as a "gilder," and so
continues through 1828. Sometimes his given name is listed as Charles,
sometimes as James, and finally as Charles James. From 1820 to 1828
his address is the same, 32 Spring Street. There is a William Pinchin
(Pinchon) listed in the Philadelphia directories as a silverplater or
silversmith almost continuously from 1785 through 1863, indicating the
possibility of a family occupation.

It is believed that some of the New England makers of uniform buttons
also manufactured plates. Among such buttonmakers of the 1820's and
1830's were R. and W. Robinson, D. Evans and Co., Leavenworth and Co.,
Benedict and Coe, and others in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Buttonmakers often stamped their names or easily recognizable
hallmarks on the back of their products.

In most cases it is virtually impossible to ascertain the precise
units for which these different plates were first designed, and the
problem is further complicated because the maker would sell a specific
plate design to several different units. Those designs that
incorporate all or part of a state's seal were originally made for
Militia organizations of the particular state, but in several
instances these plates were sold--altered or not--to units in other
parts of the country. Militia organizations that were widely separated
geographically purchased cap plates from distant manufacturers who had
perhaps a dozen or more stock patterns to offer at a cost much lower
than that involved in making a new die from which to strike
custom-made ornaments. It made no difference to the Savannah Greys, in
Georgia, that their new cap plates were the same as those worn by
organizations in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Toward the end of
this period of large cap plates, manufacturers came out with two-piece
ornaments. After 1833, when the Regiment of United States Dragoons was
authorized its large sunburst plate with separate eagle ornament in
the center, insignia makers introduced a veritable rash of full
sunburst, three-quarter sunburst, and half-sunburst cap plates with
interchangeable centers. And for the first time small Militia units
could afford their own distinctive devices at little extra cost.
Shoulder-belt and waist-belt plates underwent the same evolution, and
by the late 1830's such plates had become a mixture of either single
die stampings or composite plates made of several parts soldered or
otherwise held onto a rectangular or oval background.

Study of cap plates and other insignia in the Huddy and Duval prints
in _U.S. Military Magazine_ points to the years between 1833 and
perhaps 1837 or 1838 as the transition period from single to composite
ornaments, years during which there was also tremendous growth in the
popularity and number of independent Militia units. In contrast to the
1820's when the Militia often waited until the Regulars discarded a
device before adopting it, in 1840 there were no less than five
organizations, mounted and dismounted, wearing the 1833 dragoon plate
in full form while it was still in use by the Regulars. _U.S. Military
Magazine_ illustrates such plates for the Richmond Light Infantry
Blues, the Georgia Hussars, the Macon Volunteers, the Jackson Rifle
Corps of Lancaster, Pa., the Montgomery Light Guard, and the Harrison
Guards of Allentown, Pa. The plate of the Harrison Guards is an
example of the license sometimes practiced by Huddy and Duval in the
preparation of their military prints. The color bearer in this print
is depicted wearing a full sunburst plate, while the description of
the uniform called for "a semi-circular plate or _gloria_."[104]

[Footnote 104: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (March 1839), p. 4.]

In the following descriptions of plates, the term "stock pattern" is
used because the insignia are known to have been worn by more than one
organization, because their basic designs are so elementary that it
appears obvious that they were made for wide distribution, or because
they are known to have been made both in silver and in gilt metals.


_USNM 60307-M (S-K 64). Figure 107._

[Illustration: FIGURE 107]

On the raised center of this shield-shaped plate is the
eagle-on-cannon device within an oval floral border; the Federal
shield is below. The whole is superimposed on a trophy of arms and
colors with portions of a modified sunburst appearing on the sides.
The plate is struck in brass. The eagle-on-cannon first appeared on
Regular artillery buttons in 1802. About 1808 it was used as an
embossed device on the leather fan cockade, and in 1814 it became the
principal design element of the cap plate for Regulars. This plate is
thought to be one of the earliest of the post-1821 series of Militia
cap plates incorporating the discarded design of the Regular


_USNM 60331-M (S-K 87). Figure 108._

[Illustration: FIGURE 108]

This silver-on-copper plate is unique in size, shape, and over-all
design. It is one of the most unusual Militia insignia in the national
collections. The standing eagle of the 1807 mint design with Federal
shield, the panoply of arms and colors, and the rayed background all
suggest that this plate was made not later than the early 1820's.
Quite possibly it is a cap plate of the War of 1812 period, but
positive dating is impossible. Three simple wire fasteners are affixed
to the reverse.


_USNM 60255-M (S-K 13). Figure 109._

[Illustration: FIGURE 109]

Although the Regular riflemen wore a diamond-shaped plate from 1812 to
1814, this shape does not appear on Militia caps until the mid-1820's.
It was a common form through the 1830's, but since it was always made
as a one-piece die-struck plate it became out-dated in the late 1830's
when the composite plates came into vogue.

This plate, struck in brass and bearing the eagle-on-cannon device,
must be considered a stock pattern available to many organizations.
Insignia struck from the same die could have been easily made into
shoulder-belt plates as well.


_USNM 604748 (S-K 893). Figure 110._

[Illustration: FIGURE 110]

This brass plate is similar in many respects to the regular infantry
cap plate, type I, 1814-1821. It is attached to a bell-crowned shako
of distinctly Militia origin and is cut in the diamond shape popular
with the Militia in the 1820's and 1830's. The design lies within a
raised oval dominated by an eagle similar to ones used on War of 1812
insignia. Below the eagle is a Federal shield and a trophy of stacked
muskets, a drum surmounted by a dragoon helmet, a gun on a truck
carriage, and colors--one the National Colors with 16 stars in the

The plume holder attached to the cap above the plate is an unusually
interesting and distinctive device. It is a hemisphere of thin brass
with a round plume socket at the top. The hemisphere has an eagle on a
shield and a superimposed wreath device in silver. The blazonry of the
shield cannot be identified with any particular state or locality.

CAP PLATE, C. 1821

_USNM 60262 (S-K 20). Figure 111._

[Illustration: FIGURE 111]

The familiar hooked-beak eagle dominates the center of this brass,
scalloped-edge plate. The arrows of belligerency, however, are held in
the left talon. Surrounding the eagle is a three-quarter wreath of
olive with the national motto above and the date 1776 below. While
there is a possibility that this plate may fall into the period
1814-1821 because of its outline shape, it lacks the panoply of arms
associated with that era. It is much more probable that this is one of
the earliest plates made for Militia during the years 1821-1830. Since
this plate is also known in silver-on-copper, it is considered a stock


_USNM 60306-M (S-K 63). Figure 112._

[Illustration: FIGURE 112]

This oval, brass-struck plate framed within a large wreath of laurel
is one of the finest in the national collections, comprising as it
does a number of devices of excellent design and considerable detail
standing in high relief. The curving line of 21 stars above the motto,
decreasing in size laterally, is an interesting detail, and the eagle
and panoply of arms is reminiscent of those on the plate ascribed to
the Regiment of Light Artillery, 1814-1821, and on several of the
common Militia plates of the same period. It is assigned to the
artillery because of its "yellow metal" composition. It has simple
wire fasteners, applied to the reverse, and carries no plume socket.


_USNM 60273-M (S-K 31). Figure 113._

[Illustration: FIGURE 113]

This unusually large, shield-shaped plate, struck in brass, is
dominated by an eagle--within a smaller shield with raised
edge--standing on a half globe and wreath of the colors, both of which
are superimposed on a trophy of arms and flags; clouds and sun rays
are above. The specimen represents one of the large cap plate patterns
adopted by the Militia for wear on the bell-crown cap soon after it
came into general use in the early 1820's. While a stock pattern in a
sense, its use was most likely confined to New York State Militia
because its principal device, the eagle-on-half-globe, is taken
directly from that state's seal. These large plates were widely worn
until the middle or late 1830's when newer styles began to replace
them. The plume socket affixed to the reverse appears to be
contemporary, but has been resoldered.


_USNM 60356-M (S-K 112). Figure 114._

[Illustration: FIGURE 114]

This is a variant of the preceding plate and well illustrates how an
insignia-maker could adapt a single die for several products. The
eagle-on-half-globe, with a portion of the trophy of arms and colors,
and the clouds and sunburst above have merely been cut out from the
plate proper for use alone. The plate is struck in brass.

Another specimen, of silver-on-copper, is known, indicating that this
insignia was made for wear by infantry as well as by other branches of
the service; consequently, it may be termed a stock pattern.


_USNM 60266-M (S-K 24). Figure 115._

[Illustration: FIGURE 115]

Illustrating fine craftsmanship, this elaborate brass cap plate
comprises perhaps the most ornate and intricately detailed design ever
attempted by a military ornament die sinker. The strike itself has
been so well executed that the most minute details are even today
readily discernible, even after very apparent use. Made for New York
Militia, its central theme is the eagle-on-half-globe superimposed on
a trophy of arms and flags.

Many of the facets of detail are of particular interest. Almost every
ray of the aura of sunlight can still be clearly seen; the North Pole
is well marked with a vertical arrow; the Arctic Circle, Tropic of
Capricorn, and the Equator are included on the half-globe, as are the
meridians of longitude and the parallels of latitude; both North
America and South America are shown, and that portion of North America
east of the Mississippi basin is clearly denominated "UNITED STATES."
An unusual feature of the design is the way the arrows are held in the
eagle's left talon--some of the arrow heads point inward, some
outward. What appears to have been a contemporary plume socket has
been resoldered to the reverse.

Although this plate is unmarked as to maker, another plate of a
similar design but of silver-on-copper has the maker's mark "J.
JOULLAIN, MAKER, N. YORK." Since two distinct but similar designs are
known, and the finished product is found in both brass and
silver-on-copper, it seems probable that this plate was produced by
more than one maker, and for all arms of the service. It is therefore
deemed a stock pattern.


_USNM 60267-M (S-K 25). Figure 116._

[Illustration: FIGURE 116]

Almost immediately after the last Regular rifle regiment was disbanded
in 1821, Militia riflemen adopted the large open horn with loops and
tassels that the Regulars had worn from 1817 to 1821. The basic device
was altered slightly by showing an eagle in flight and the horn
suspended much lower on its cords. The illustrated brass plate is one
of four die variants, and more than a dozen similar to it have been
examined. It is significant that all are of brass, for these were made
and worn during the period when the trimmings for infantry were silver
or "white metal."

This plate differs from the others examined in that it has 17
6-pointed stars along the upper and lower parts of the shield inside
the border. The number of stars cannot be significant in dating for
the plate was obviously made long after 1812 when the 18th state,
Louisiana, was admitted to the Union. A plume socket affixed to the
reverse appears to be original.

Undoubtedly made as a stock pattern by several manufacturers, these
plates continued in use for at least 15 years after they first
appeared about 1825. Although _U.S. Military Magazine_ illustrates
many large cap plates for the period 1839-1841, none has a shield
outline. This may indicate a decline in the popularity of the design,
but it must be remembered that Huddy and Duval presented the uniforms
of only a small cross-section of the Militia of the period.


_USNM 60267-M (S-K 26). Figure 117._

[Illustration: FIGURE 117]

This is a second form of Militia riflemen's plates. Struck in brass,
it differs from the preceding primarily in the placement of 17
5-pointed stars along the upper half of the shield, between the
borders. Other small differences show that the basic die was not that
used for the preceding specimen. The most obvious difference is the
legend "E PLURIBUS UNUM" carried on the ribbon behind the knotted cord
of the horn, an element not present in the other.

A third form, not illustrated, substitutes a floral border for the
plain border around the edge of the shield and contains no stars as
part of the design. Still a fourth form, also not illustrated, has the
same center device of eagle and open horn placed in a longer and
narrower shield, with 23 6-pointed stars between the borders.

¶ These various combinations of devices give a good clue as to the
method of manufacture of stock patterns, and indicate the use of
several different dies and hand punches. The blank metal was first
struck by a die that formed the plain or floral border and cut the
outline of the plate. Next, a smaller die containing the center device
of eagle and horn was used. Then the stars, and sometimes elements of
the floral border, were added by individual striking with a hand
punch. This latter method is clearly revealed by the comparison of
several "identical" plates in which the stars or elements of the
border are irregularly and differently spaced.


_USNM 60398-M (S-K 154). Figure 118._

[Illustration: FIGURE 118]

This plate is called "rifleman pattern" because it is silver-on-copper
and is the only known example of this type of insignia made for wear
by infantry, or possibly for Militia riflemen whose trimmings were,
incorrectly, silver.

There are several conjectures about this cut-out device made from a
die of the preceding series of shield plates. It may have been made
after 1834, when the open horn with cord and tassels was adopted by
the Regular infantry as a branch device. It is equally possible that
it was submitted to a Militia infantry organization by some maker as a
sample during the 1820's and when selected was silvered to conform
with other trimmings. In either case, it illustrates how a single die
could serve to make many different variations from a basic design.


_USNM 60304-M (S-K 61B). Figure 119._

[Illustration: FIGURE 119]

The very unusual construction of this brass plate for riflemen
indicates that it is possibly one of the earliest of the composite
plates. Within a wreath of crossed laurel boughs is a small center
circle with raised edge to which has been soldered the eagle and horn
device struck in convex form.


_USNM 60252-M (S-K 10). Figure 120._

[Illustration: FIGURE 120]

The diamond-shaped plate was in vogue with Militia units during the
late 1820's and the 1830's. Examples of such plates for the Washington
Grays (Philadelphia) and the Philadelphia Grays are recorded in _U.S.
Military Magazine_.[105] This brass plate, possibly made for a
particular unit from stock dies, is a typical example of the endless
variety possible with the use of a few dies. The blank was struck with
a die for the center device of eagle and horn, but the irregularity of
the spacing of the stars shows that they were added later by hand.
Similar plates may be found with essentially this same device, but
placed on small shields or backgrounds of other shapes.

[Footnote 105: April 1839, pl. 5; June 1839, pl. 11.]

CAP PLATE, C. 1835

_USNM 604851-M (S-K 996). Figure 121._

[Illustration: FIGURE 121]

The eagle and horn devices were sometimes separated by the
manufacturer to produce this type ornament open with cord and tassels.
Struck in brass, it differs in form and detail from the silver horn
adopted by the Regular infantry in 1834 as a cap plate.

Several Militia units of the late 1830's and 1840's used a horn as an
additional ornament on the rear of the cap, notably the State
Fencibles (Philadelphia) and the National Guard (Philadelphia). On the
rear of the leather cap of the State Fencibles were "two broad rich
stripes of silver lace, starting from the same point at the top and
running down, forming an angle, in the center of which is a bugle
ornament...."[106] The cap of the National Guard has been described as
being "of blue cloth ... and in the rear a plated bugle

[Footnote 106: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (March 1839), p. 3 and pl. 2.]

[Footnote 107: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (October 1841), p. 32.]

¶ In the following series of rather similar plates, four different
dies are used for the center ornament, perhaps made by as many
different die sinkers. The relatively large number of these plates
still in existence suggests that they were worn very extensively.
Those with silver finish were used by infantry; the gilt or copper
ones by artillery and perhaps by staff officers. All specimens are
currently fitted with plain wire fasteners and plume sockets, both of
which may or may not be original.


_USNM 60271-M (S-K 29). Figure 122._

[Illustration: FIGURE 122]

The floral-bordered shield outline of this silver-on-copper infantry
plate is known to have been used also with the rifleman's eagle-horn
device in the center. The panoply of arms and flags used as a
background for the center device, which is characterized by the long
neck of the eagle swung far to the right, links it closely to the
plate of similar type worn during the period 1814-1821. Because of its
large size, it is assigned to the post-1821 era of the bell-crown cap,
contemporary with the riflemen's large plates. The 13 5-pointed stars
were added with a hand punch.

CAP PLATE, C. 1825

_USNM 60298-M (S-K 56). Figure 123._

[Illustration: FIGURE 123]

This brass plate is a duplicate of the preceding, lacking only the
hand-applied stars. The crispness of detail indicates that it was one
of the very early products of the die.

CAP PLATE, C. 1825

_USNM 60269-M (S-K 27). Figure 124._

[Illustration: FIGURE 124]

The second variation of the series is a product of perhaps the best
executed die of the group, with unusually fine detail in the eagle's
wings and with neatly stacked cannon balls at the bottom of the center
device. It includes other excellent detail not found in other dies: an
eagle-head pommel on one sword, a star pattern made of smaller stars
in the cantons of the flags, and crossed cannon, rammer, and worm
behind the Federal shield. It is struck in brass.

CAP PLATE, C. 1825

_USNM 60297-M (S-K 55). Figure 125._

[Illustration: FIGURE 125]

A tall, slender, rather graceless eagle with broad wings and erect
head reminiscent of the Napoleonic eagle is the outstanding difference
in this third example of the series. The floral border lacks a
finished look because the plate, which is of brass, was apparently
hand trimmed.

CAP PLATE, C. 1825

_USNM 60270-M (S-K 28). Figure 126._

[Illustration: FIGURE 126]

This fourth variation, of silver-on-copper, bears an eagle with very
small legs (somewhat out of proportion), an erect head, a fierce mien,
and a heavy round breast. The design is struck on a shield-plate with
the exact measurements as on one of the riflemen series.


_USNM 60302-M (S-K 60). Figure 127._

[Illustration: FIGURE 127]

The oldest known plate made expressly for musicians, this
silver-on-copper, floral-bordered shield bears an eagle similar to one
for riflemen of the same period (see fig. 116). Among the early
musical instruments easily identifiable in the design are the tambor,
the serpent, the French horn, and the rack of bells. Such a plate was
undoubtedly a stock pattern, available in either gilt or silver
finish, and was probably sold well into the 1840's. The reverse is
fitted with what appears to be a contemporary plume socket, although
resoldered, and two simple wire fasteners.


_USNM 6030-M (S-K 61A). Figure 128._

[Illustration: FIGURE 128]

This gilded brass plate, while not as old as the preceding one, is of
an unusual pattern. Made for New York State Militia, it carries the
eagle-on-half-globe device at the top. The central design includes a
French horn, a serpent, and a straight horn, all intertwined about an
open roll of sheet music. It is probably a stock pattern. The reverse
is fitted with three simple bent-wire fasteners.

CAP PLATE, C. 1830

_USNM 60250-M (S-K 8). Figure 129._

[Illustration: FIGURE 129]

The design on this brass plate, reminiscent of that on the regular
infantry cap plate, 1814-1821, was adopted for wear by the Militia
after being discarded by the Regular Establishment. The ornate floral
border and diamond shape place it in the late 1820's and the 1830's,
although the lightning in the eagle's left talon and the arrows in its
right talon are usually associated with plates designed prior to 1821.
It has been suggested that this is the plate worn by the West Point
cadets after 1821, but such seems doubtful.

¶ No Militia plates enjoyed wider use or longer life than those
patterned after the plate that disappeared from the Regular
Establishment with the disbanding of the dragoons in 1815. More than a
dozen die variants are known, several worn by more than one Militia
unit. Although size and shape may vary, any plate exhibiting a mounted
trooper with upraised saber can safely be assigned to mounted Militia.
However, the dating of such plates is a real problem because they are
known to have been in use as late as 1861.

A Huddy and Duval print of the Washington Cavalry of Philadelphia
County shows that unit wearing a plate similar to the one used by the
Regulars, differing only in its brass composition, as opposed to the
original pewter of the 1812 regulations.[108] A cap in the collections
of the Valley Forge Museum that was worn by a member of this unit in
the period 1835-1845 is very similar to the one shown in the Huddy and
Duval print. The cap is a copy of the 1812 Regular Army pattern, with
somewhat more ornate brass bindings in place of the iron strips. A
similar cap, carrying the label "Canfield and Bro., Baltimore," is
owned by Lexington, Virginia, descendants of a member of the
Rockbridge [Virginia] Dragoons. That unit is said to have worn such a
cap upon first entering Confederate service in 1861.

[Footnote 108: See _U.S. Military Magazine_ (February 1840), pl. 29.]

In the national collections there is a dragoon cap (USNM 604767, S-K
912) carrying a plate of this design struck on a massive
diamond-shaped piece with concave sides. There are additional
variations in several private collections and at the Fort Ticonderoga
Museum. The mounted horseman device was also struck on heart-shaped
martingale ornaments.


_USNM 60254-M (S-K 12). Figure 130._

[Illustration: FIGURE 130]

The horseman on this brass plate, designed with a rather crude,
childlike simplicity, is garbed quite differently than the Regular
dragoon on the 1812 pewter specimen. The plate is assigned to the
general 1830 period to fit the era of the diamond-shaped plates, but
its use doubtless continued on into the 1840's. By nature of its
design it would have been a manufacturer's stock pattern.


_USNM 60301-M (S-K 59). Figure 131._

[Illustration: FIGURE 131]

The eagle on this brass plate is similar to the ones on the preceding
shield plates, but the Federal shield on which he stands is ornamented
with three star devices composed of smaller stars. An unusual feature
of this plate is the addition of the flaming portion of a grenade
rising from the eagle's head, a device not a part of any other known
cap plate. This symbol suggests artillery, and the plate is of the
proper color. Although an unusual over-all design, the lack of any
components of state arms or crests indicate that it may have been a
stock pattern. The reverse is fitted with two simple bent-wire


_USNM 60355-M (S-K 111). Figure 132._

[Illustration: FIGURE 132]

This silver-on-copper plate bears the familiar elements of the
Massachusetts seal: Indian, in hunting shirt, with bow in right hand,
arrow with point downward in left hand, and star above right shoulder.
The crest--an arm grasping a broad sword on a wreath of the colors--is
superimposed on a burst of sun rays above. The State's motto is
written around the shield. The earlier plates containing elements of
state arms were for the most part confined to the States of
Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. No large plates bearing
Pennsylvania State symbols that can be dated prior to 1835 are known.

This seal was not authorized by law until 1885. However, the devices
and the motto were elements of the seal of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts ordered prepared by the state legislature in 1780 and,
although apparently never formally approved, used as such for many
years. It differs considerably in detail from the seal in use from
1629 to 1684.[109]

[Footnote 109: See ZIEBER, pp. 141-144.]


_USNM 60316-M (S-K 72). Figure 133._

[Illustration: FIGURE 133]

This scalloped plate, which is struck in thin iron metal and silvered,
bears elements of the Massachusetts seal, minus the motto, and the
legend "MASSACHUSETTS MILITIA." Its silver color assigns it to the
infantry. The form of the specimen indicates that it was probably
designed prior to 1839. In consideration of its over-all design and
the use of the word "MILITIA," it was probably made as a stock pattern
and sold to several different organizations. A plume holder, which has
been resoldered to the reverse, appears to be of the same metal as the
plate proper. It is pierced at the sides for attachment.

¶ Painted cap fronts were worn during the War of the Revolution by
several units of the Continental Army--including the Light Infantry
Company of the Canadian Regiment, Haslet's Delaware Regiment, and the
Rhode Island Train of Artillery[110]--and it is probable that the
practice continued among some volunteer corps up to the War of 1812.
Their use in the uniformed Militia units generally declined after the
introduction of die-struck metal cap plates. Two notable exceptions
are a cap plate of the Morris Rangers that is attached to a
civilian-type round hat of the 1812-1814 period[111] and the cap front
described below (fig. 137).

[Footnote 110: Illustrated in LEFFERTS, pls. 4, 7, 21.]

[Footnote 111: In the collections of the Morristown National
Historical Park. The Morris Rangers was one of three uniformed Militia
units in Morris County, New Jersey, at the outbreak of the War of
1812; it saw service at Paulus Hook in 1814 (HOPKINS, pp. 271-272).]

Although discarded by the more elite volunteer corps, painted metal
hat fronts in the "tombstone" shape similar to that of the Morris
Rangers continued to be used, to some extent, by the common Militia.
Easily attached to the ordinary civilian hat of the period, they
provided the common Militia a quick and inexpensive transformation
from civilian to military dress at their infrequent musters perhaps as
late as 1840. There are several contemporary sketches of these musters
and in one, dated 1829 (fig. 134), these "tombstone" plates can be

[Illustration: FIGURE 134.--From Library of Congress print.]

A total of perhaps a dozen of these hat fronts are known. Most are of
Connecticut origin, although at least two containing New York State
devices are extant. The most elaborate of these devices bears, oddly
enough, elements of the Connecticut State seal, the motto _Qui Trans.
Sust._, and the crest of the Massachusetts coat of arms--an arm
grasping a broad-sword (fig. 135). The elaborate detail of this plate
indicates that it was probably an officer's. The fact that unit
designations on other such known hat fronts run as high as the "23d
Regt." is definite proof that these were devices of the common Militia
as opposed to the volunteer corps.

[Illustration: FIGURE 135.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]


_USNM 604764-M (S-K 909). Figure 136._

[Illustration: FIGURE 136]

This painted front, of leather rather than metal, forms an integral
part of the cap itself. Edged in gold, it has the unit designation
"LIGHT INFANTRY: 2d COMP." in gold at the top; a shield in the center
contains elements of the Connecticut State seal, and below it is the
state motto "QUI TRANS SUST" ("He who brought us over here will
sustains us").

CAP FRONT, C. 1830

_USNM 60243-M (S-K 1). Figure 137._

[Illustration: FIGURE 137]

A majority of these hat fronts are very similar in design, size, and
shape, and are painted over a black background on thin precut sheets
of tinned iron. This specimen carries a gold eagle with the Federal
shield on its breast and a ribbon in its beak. The unit designation,
"2d COMP{Y}. 23d REG{T}.", also in gold, is below. The artwork,
although somewhat unartistically executed, has an attractive
simplicity. Other such hat fronts in the national collections are of
the 2d Company, 6th Regiment; 3d Company, 6th Regiment; and 1st
Company, 8th Regiment. The plate shown here has metal loops soldered
to the reverse close to the edge midway between top and bottom for
attachment to a civilian type hat by means of a ribbon or strip of
cloth. Other such plates have hole for attachment with string.


_USNM 60318-M (S-K 74). Figure 138._

[Illustration: FIGURE 138]

This crescent-shaped, silver-on-copper plate bears an eagle that is
very similar in design to the one adopted by the Regular Army in 1821.
Sometimes mistakenly identified as a gorget because of its shape, the
crescent form of the specimen is an old South Carolina State heraldic
device. A cap worn by the Charleston Light Dragoons after the Civil
War, and probably before, carries a similar crescent-shaped plate,
with the familiar palmetto tree device substituted for the eagle.[112]
The design of the eagle, however, places this piece in the 1835-1850
period. A silvered ornament, it may have been made originally for
either infantry or dragoons, and must be considered a manufacturer's
stock pattern.

[Footnote 112: Illustrated in _Military Collector and Historian_
(1951), vol. 3, no. 3, p. 59.]


_USNM 60251-M (S-K 9). Figure 139._

[Illustration: FIGURE 139]

This brass, diamond-shaped plate was worn by the Washington Grays, a
light artillery outfit of Philadelphia. Within a raised oval are a
profile of Washington--with his shoulders draped in a toga, a
typically neoclassic touch--and, below, the unit designation "GRAYS"
in raised letters. A matching oval shoulder-belt plate struck from the
same die is known.[113]

[Footnote 113: See _U.S. Military Magazine_ (April 1839), pl. 5.]

Many Militia units named themselves after prominent military
personalities. There were Washington Guards, Washington Rifles,
Jackson Artillerists, and so forth.


_USNM 60291-M (S-K 49). Figure 140._

[Illustration: FIGURE 140]

An illustration in _U.S. Military Magazine_[114] shows this plate
being worn by the National Greys; however, with such a nondistinctive
center ornament as the rosette of six petals, it must surely have been
a stock pattern sold to many different organizations. The sunburst
proper is struck in brass, as is the rosette, and each of the rays is
pierced at the end for attachment. The rosette is affixed with a brass
bolt, also for attachment, which must have extended through the front
of the cap.

[Footnote 114: May 1839, pl. 7.]


_USNM 60333-M (S-K 89). Figure 141._

[Illustration: FIGURE 141]

This plate is struck in very thin brass. The combination of devices in
the design, especially of the cannon and cannon balls, indicates that
it was probably made for Militia artillery. Its shape suggests that it
may have been worn high on the cap front, with the sunburst serving an
added function as a cockade of sorts. It was very probably a stock


_USNM 60319-M (S-K 75). Figure 142._

[Illustration: FIGURE 142]

From the size of this brass plate it can be assumed that it was worn
without other ornament on the front of the round leather cap
associated with mounted troops. The upper portion of the shield bears
8-pointed stars, an unusual feature. The arrows in the eagle's left
talon point inward, a characteristic of eagle representation between
1832 and 1836. The plate is known both in brass and with silver
finish. It was probably a stock pattern issued to both cavalry and
mounted artillery.

CAP EAGLE, C. 1836

_USNM 60391-M (S-K 147). Figure 143._

[Illustration: FIGURE 143]

This brass eagle was worn in combination with backgrounds of full-,
half-, and three-quarter sunbursts and as a single ornament on the cap
front. The inward-pointed arrows in the left talon place it in the
1832-1836 period. Known in both brass and silver-on-copper, it was a
popular stock pattern sold to many units.

CAP PLATE, C. 1836

_USNM 60381-M (S-K 137). Figure 144._

[Illustration: FIGURE 144]

Struck in copper, and silvered, this eagle, which is very similar in
design to that prescribed for the Regular Establishment in both 1821
and 1832, was made for Militia infantry from about 1836 to perhaps as
late as 1851. Specimens struck in brass are also known, and the same
eagle is found on half-sunburst backgrounds. It is quite possible that
this is the eagle illustrated in the Huddy and Duval prints as being
worn by both the Washington Blues of Philadelphia and the U.S. Marine

[Footnote 115: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (February 1840), pl. 28;
(November 1840), unnumbered plate.]


_USNM 60287-M (S-K 45). Figure 145._

[Illustration: FIGURE 145]

This brass ornament is a die sample or unfinished badge. After the
circular device was trimmed from the brass square, it would have been
worn as an officer's chapeau ornament or as a side ornament on the
round leather dragoon cap of the period. The four arrows in the
eagle's left talon are unusual.


_USNM 604962-M (S-K 1156). Figure 146._

[Illustration: FIGURE 146]

This large, round chapeau cockade with its gold embroidery and sequins
on black-ribbed silk and its ring of 24 silver-metal stars appears to
be identical to cockades that have been shown as being worn around
1839 by Gen. Edmund P. Gaines and Gen. Winfield Scott[116] but without
the added center eagle. Close examination of this cockade shows it to
be complete, with no traces of a center eagle ever having been added.
The 24 stars would have been appropriate at any time between 1821 and

[Footnote 116: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (May 1841), unnumbered plate;
(March 1841), unnumbered plate.]


_USNM 604780 (S-K 925). Figure 147._

[Illustration: FIGURE 147]

The Jackson Artillerists of Philadelphia, after the appearance of the
regular dragoon cap plate in 1833 and the large crossed cannon of the
regular artillery one year later, lost no time in combining these two
devices to make their distinctive cap device.[117] It seems probable,
however, that the plate was adopted by other artillery units and
eventually became more or less of a stock pattern.

[Footnote 117: Illustrated in _U.S. Military Magazine_ (January 1840),
pl. 26.]


_USNM 604608-M (S-K 755). Figure 148._

[Illustration: FIGURE 148]

The Washington Grays of Philadelphia wore a diamond-shaped plate with
a likeness of George Washington in the center (see fig. 139), but
this plate, for some other "Washington" unit, bears his likeness in
silver metal on a brass sunburst background. This silver outline of
the head of Washington is also known on cartridge-box flaps of the


_USNM 60288-M (S-K 46). Figure 149._

[Illustration: FIGURE 149]

This uncut, brass cap plate may have been a manufacturer's die strike
sent out as a sample, with others, so that a distant Militia
organization could select a pattern. The finished plate is known on a
bell-crown cap of the pattern of the 1820's, but its design indicates
that it probably should be dated after 1834 when the Regular artillery
first adopted the crossed-cannon device. The eagle is distinctly
similar to the one adopted by the Regulars in lieu of cap plates in
1821, and the modified sunburst background probably was taken from the
1833 dragoon device.

CAP PLATE, C. 1836

_USNM 60292-M (S-K 50) Figure 150._

[Illustration: FIGURE 150]

This cap plate is a somewhat wider variation of the 1833 dragoon
device than most of the Militia plates of that type popular in the
late 1830's and the 1840's. While the brass sunburst has the usual
8-pointed form, the eagle, applied to the center, is unusually small
(1-3/8 by 1 in.) and gives every indication of having been originally
designed as a cockade eagle at a somewhat earlier period.

CAP PLATE, C. 1836

_USNM 60274-M (S-K 32). Figure 151._

[Illustration: FIGURE 151]

This pattern of the 1833 dragoon eagle on a half-sunburst, struck in
brass and silvered, was worn by the Washington [D.C.] Light Infantry
[118] and possibly by other units of the period. Both the eagle and
the half-sunburst were obviously stock items.

[Footnote 118: Illustrated in _U.S. Military Magazine_ (August 1839),
pl. 15.]


_USNM 604606 (S-K 753). Figure 152._

[Illustration: FIGURE 152]

This silver-metal plate can be accurately identified by reading its
devices. The center device is from the seal of the State of Georgia.
During the period that the plate was worn, one of the best known of
the State's Militia organizations was the Republican Blues--the "RB"
on the plate--of Savannah.[119] The silver color of the plate also
agrees with the other trimmings of the uniform of that unit.

[Footnote 119: A volunteer Militia company known as the Republican
Blues was organized in Savannah in 1808. From notes filed under
"Georgia National Guard" in Organizational History and Honors Branch,
Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army,
Washington, D.C.]


_USNM 604605 (S-K 752). Figure 153._

[Illustration: FIGURE 153]

This three-quarter-sunburst plate with the monogram "I D" applied in
silver is identical to one on a brass-bound dragoon cap in the
national collections carrying in its crown the label "Irish Dragoons,
Brooklyn, N.Y." (USNM 604691, S-K 837). It is typical of the two-piece
sunburst-type plates and was probably worn until the 1850's. The plate
was attached by means of two looped-wire fasteners that were run
through holes in the helmet and secured by leather thongs.


_USNM 604688-M (S-K 834). Figure 154._

[Illustration: FIGURE 154]

With no regulations but their own to restrain them, Militia
organizations designed their uniforms to suit their fancies, although
generally following the regulations for the Regulars. This often led
to odd and unusual cap shapes and trimmings and bindings on clothing,
and to somewhat garish horse furniture in in some mounted units.

The illustrated cap and plate is very similar to the ones worn by the
Boston Light Infantry[120] about 1839-1840 except that the upper or
"mortar board" portion is beige instead of red and the plate is a full
instead of a three-quarter sunburst. The mortar board form is that
introduced by the Polish lancers in Europe in the early years of the
19th century and worn by most European lancer regiments of the same
period. Lancer units in the British Army adopted this type cap in 1816
when they were first converted from light dragoons.[121] The large,
brass, eagle-on-sunburst plate was obviously patterned after the one
prescribed for the Regular dragoons in 1833.

[Footnote 120: Depicted in _U.S. Military Magazine_ (November 1839),
pl. 22.]

[Footnote 121: BARNES, p. 106 and pl. 2(14).]


_USNM 60377-M (S-K 133). Figure 155._

[Illustration: FIGURE 155]

As an example of more than a dozen known variants of the eagle, this
silver-on-copper specimen is illustrated to show the general form and
size of Militia cockade eagles that became distinct types in the
1830's and continued until about 1851. All such eagles were obviously
stock patterns.


_USNM 604960-M (S-K 1104). Figure 156._

[Illustration: FIGURE 156]

This gold-embroidered cockade eagle with a wreath of silver lamé about
its breast appears to have been patterned directly after the eagle on
the 1833 Regular dragoon cap plate (see fig. 38). It possibly is one
of a type worn by general officers of Militia. On this specimen, both
the eye and mouth of the eagle are indicated with red thread.


_USNM 604959-M (S-K 1103). Figure 157._

[Illustration: FIGURE 157]

This gold-embroidered eagle, with wings and tail of gold embroidery
and gold sequins, was worn by staff and field officers, and possibly
general officers, of Militia. A duplicate on an original chapeau is in
the collections of the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore,
Maryland. Eagle ornaments such as this were generally centered on a
round cloth cockade about 6 inches in diameter. The eagle's mouth is
indicated by embroidery with red thread. Similar eagles of a smaller
size are known on epaulets of the same period.

CAP PLATE, C. 1840

_USNM 60451l-M (S-K 658). Figure 158._

[Illustration: FIGURE 158]

The flaming grenade, adopted by the Regulars in 1832 after long usage
by the British and other foreign armies, was quickly adopted by the
Militia. This specimen, of silver-on-copper, was worn as a cap plate
either in conjunction with another device below it on the cap front or
as a lone distinctive ornament. It cannot precisely be identified as
an artillery plate, but since some Militia artillery units are
definitely known to have worn silver buttons of the artillery pattern,
such is highly probable. Also known in brass and in smaller sizes, it
is a stock pattern.

CAP PLATE, C. 1840

_USNM 604526 (S-K 673). Figure 159._

[Illustration: FIGURE 159]

Although this plate appears to be of possible French or British
origin, close examination indicates that it is probably an American
Militia device of the 1840's. Its looped-wire fasteners indicate that
it is a cap plate. The design of the modified Napoleonic-type eagle is
almost exactly that used in the 1833 Regular dragoon cap plate and
other Militia plates; and the period of apparent manufacture coincides
with the early use of the flaming grenade as an American device.
Incorporating two devices common to the period, it would have been a
stock pattern.


_USNM 60432-M (S-K 188). Figure 160._

[Illustration: FIGURE 160]

The 1840 button for the Ordnance Corps bears a flaming grenade over
crossed cannon, devices that date from 1832 and 1834 respectively.
Consequently, it seems likely that this combination emerged as a stock
pattern for Militia artillery early in the 1840's. This specimen,
struck from a single piece of brass, is a copy of the French artillery
device of the same period, and, while it is believed to be American,
it may be a foreign insignia. Confusion arises in the case of foreign
designs, for die sinkers often used as a model either an actual
imported badge or a scale drawing of one.


_USNM 604548-M (S-K 695). Figure 161._

[Illustration: FIGURE 161]

This is a variation of the pattern of the preceding specimen in which
silver-metal devices have been placed on a small, gilt, half-sunburst
plate. This was probably a stock pattern available to any Militia
organization beginning about 1840 and worn for the next 20 or 30


_USNM 604533-M (S-K 680). Figure 162._

[Illustration: FIGURE 162]

The palmetto of South Carolina in outline form first appeared as a
large cap ornament about 1840, after having been worn in smaller size
as a cockade ornament and on the side of dragoon caps. A Huddy and
Duval print shows it on the caps of the DeKalb Rifle Guards of Camden,
South Carolina.[122] The illustrated specimen was worn into the
1850's, and it is highly probable that some South Carolina troops wore
plates such as this in the early days of the Civil War.

[Footnote 122: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (August 1841), unnumbered

The palmetto was adopted as the principal heraldic device of South
Carolina in commemoration of the defeat of Admiral Sir Peter Parker's
fleet by the garrison of Sullivan's Island under Col. William Moultrie
in June 1776. The defenses of the island were constructed primarily of
palmetto logs. The devices comprising this brass plate are all taken
from the state seal, including the mottos _Animis Opibusque Parati_
and _Dum Spiro Spero Spes_. The date "1776" alludes to the year of
Moultrie's victory and not to the organization date of any particular


_USNM 604532-M (S-K 679). Figure 163._

[Illustration: FIGURE 163]

Struck from a different die, with broader fronds and a wider base,
this brass plate is of the same period as the preceding one.

CAP PLATE, C. 1840

_USNM 60295-M (S-K 53). Figure 164._

[Illustration: FIGURE 164]

This grenadier-type plate, struck in brass, is one of the most
beautiful examples of the die maker's art in the national collections.
On a sunburst-over-clouds background is an eagle grasping the top of
the Federal shield superimposed on panoply of arms and colors. The
national motto is on a ribbon below. Certainly not from a stock
pattern, this plate obviously was made for a specific Militia unit of
considerable affluence. Three simple wire fasteners soldered to the
reverse provide means of attachment.

This specimen is one of the scarce examples of military plates bearing
the maker's name "BALE," which may be seen just above the raised lower
edge and below the "UNUM." This was probably Thomas Bale of New York
who is first listed in New York directories, in 1832, as an engraver
at 68 Nassau Street. The 1842 directory lists him as a die sinker at
the same address in partnership with a Frederick B. Smith. He is last
listed in 1851.


_USNM 604672 (S-K 819). Figure 165._

[Illustration: FIGURE 165]

The plate on this cap uses only the shield of the Pennsylvania seal
without crest or supporters. It is surrounded at the sides and bottom
with a wreath carrying a ribbon with the unit designation "first
artily." Equally interesting and unusual is the small separate
insignia at the pompon socket. It is based on the 1840 flaming grenade
ordnance device with crossed cannon superimposed.


_USNM 60394-M (S-K 150). Figure 166._

[Illustration: FIGURE 166]

This eagle is of a rather odd design, and the five arrows in its left
talon is an even more unusual variation. It is believed to be a
cockade eagle because of its form and size, but it may well have been
used elsewhere on the person as a piece of uniform insignia.


_USNM 60259-M (S-K 17). Figure 167._

[Illustration: FIGURE 167]

The State Fencibles of Philadelphia were originally organized as "Sea
Fencibles" in 1812 for duty at the port of Philadelphia. This cockade,
with brass eagle, was first worn about 1840 and it continued in use
for many years thereafter. Dates incorporated as parts of devices are
generally the original organizational dates of the units concerned--as
is the case in this instance--and bear no necessary relation to the
age of the badges. Some Militia cap plates bear the date "1776," and
there are waist-belt plates bearing organization dates of 100 years
earlier than the dates at which the plates were made.

¶ The transition to composite plates in the late 1830's was a
tremendous step forward in the field of military ornament. Handsome
insignia could be manufactured less expensively and individual units
were able to have plates distinctive to themselves at relatively low
cost; however, only gold and silver colors could be used. In the
mid-1840's there was introduced a new manufacturing technique which
opened this field even wider. In this innovation, various stock
patterns were struck with a round center as a part of the design. In
either the initial strike, or a second, this round center was punched
out, leaving a hole. Then pieces of colored leather or painted tin,
carrying distinctive numerals, letters, monograms, or other devices
were affixed to the reverse of the plate, in effect filling the hole.
Although this added a step in manufacture, it permitted the
incorporation of bright colors, which added zest and sparkle to the
finished product. Such plates remained popular until the 1890's, and a
few are still worn on the full-dress caps of some units. This type of
insignia came into use at the time when many of the independent
companies of the larger states, such as New York and Pennsylvania,
were starting to become elements of regiments and brigades within the
over-all Militia structure of the state, thus the use of distinctive
numbers and/or letters on the badges. Many of these units, however,
retained their original designation[123] and continued to wear
insignia distinctive to themselves on full-dress uniforms.

[Footnote 123: _New York Military Magazine_ (June 26, 1841), vol. 1,
no. 3, p. 45.]

CAP PLATE, 1845-1850

_USNM 604559-M (S-K 706). Figure 168._

[Illustration: FIGURE 168]

The first of the stock patterns, with basic wreath and 8-pointed
starlike sunburst, has the numeral "1" on black leather as a center
device. Other specimens in the national collections have single
numerals, single letters, branch of service devices, and state coats
of arms. This plate, and those following, were worn through the 1850's
on the dress cap copied after the pattern adopted for the Regular
Establishment in 1851. It is struck in brass.

CAP PLATE, 1845-1850

_USNM 604617-M (S-K 764). Figure 169._

[Illustration: FIGURE 169]

This stock pattern, in brass, is very definitely military in
composition, employing cannon and flag-staff spearheads radiating from
a beaded center and superimposed on a sunburst background. The metal
letter "1" is backed with black leather.


_USNM 604681-M (S-K 827). Figure 170._

[Illustration: FIGURE 170]

This unusually ornate and distinctive plate is that of the Albany [New
York] Burgesses Corps that was founded, as stated on the plate itself,
October 8, 1833. The arms and the motto "ASSIDUITY", appearing above
the ribbon with the letters "A B C," are those of the city of Albany.


_USNM 604666-M (S-K 813). Figure 171._

[Illustration: FIGURE 171]

The original buttons on the sides of this cap have the eagle with the
letter "R" (used by both Regulars and Militia) on the shield. The
brass plate proper, however, includes no device indicative of any
particular branch of service; combining flags and a Federal shield
surmounted by an eagle, it may well have been a stock pattern.

CAP PLATE, C. 1850(?)

_USNM 604551 (S-K 698). Figure 172._

[Illustration: FIGURE 172]

The type and form of this eagle plate give no clue to its age, or to
the identity of the unit that wore it other than the numeral "1" in
the eagle's beak and the letter "E" in the shield. It is a type more
apt to have been made about 1850 than later. The eagle is struck in
brass, and the stippled inner portion of the shield, product of a
separate strike, is soldered in place; thus, the plate proper must be
considered a stock pattern.

CAP PLATE, C. 1850(?)

_USNM 604552-M (S-K 699). Figure 173._

[Illustration: FIGURE 173]

A companion piece to the preceding plate, this specimen differs in
that the letters "R G" and their stippled background are struck
integrally with the plate proper--indicating that two dies were
combined for a single strike--and in that the shield, ribbon, and
numeral "1" have been silvered.


_USNM 60358-M (S-K 114). Figure 174._

[Illustration: FIGURE 174]

This plate is of a type form worn on Militia dress caps prior to the
Civil War. There is little doubt that plates such as this continued in
use for several decades after their initial appearance. This brass
specimen, surmounted by elements of the Massachusetts seal, is struck
as a stock pattern for Massachusetts troops with the center left
blank. The numeral "10" is applied to a black-painted metal disk
affixed with simple wire fasteners.


_USNM 604545-M (S-K 692). Figure 175._

[Illustration: FIGURE 175]

This plate and the one following are of Militia types worn on caps in
the 1850's and perhaps earlier. Such plates are known to have been in
use with little or no change almost to the present day on military
school dress shakos and dress caps worn by some National Guard units.
The plate proper, which is of brass, is the well-known half-sunburst
device so popular in the 1830's and 1840's. The Georgia state seal,
also in brass, is applied with wire fasteners. The plate is dated
later than a similar one of the Republican Blues (fig. 152) because of
the "feel" of the piece and the fact that it cannot be ascribed to a
particular unit whose existence can be dated.


_USNM 604547-M (S-K 694). Figure 176._

[Illustration: FIGURE 176]

This plate differs from the preceding one only in that it substitutes
the coat of arms of Virginia for that of Georgia. The backgrounds,
although very similar, are products of different dies.

Shoulder-Belt and Waist-Belt Plates


_USNM 60323-M (S-K 79). Figure 177._

[Illustration: FIGURE 177]

Undoubtedly one of the most interesting of all the Militia plates of
the War of 1812 period is this rectangular one worn by John S. Stiles
of (as indicated by the engraving) the "First Marine Artillery of the
Union." Engraved in brass, it bears an unusual combination of military
and naval devices--the familiar eagle-on-cannon of the Regular
artillery and the eagle with oval shield that appears on naval
officers' buttons of the period.[124] Actually, the devices befit the
character of the organization. The following quotation from _Niles
Weekly Register_ of Baltimore, June 26, 1813, tells something of the

     The First Marine Artillery of the Union, an association of the
     masters and mates of vessels in Baltimore, about 170 strong all
     told, assembled on Sunday last and proceeded to the Rev. Mr.
     Glendy's church in full uniform, where they received an address
     suited to the occasion; which, as usual, done honor to the head
     and heart to the reverend orator. We cannot pass over this
     pleasant incident without observing that the members of this
     invaluable corps are they who, of all other classes of society,
     feel the burthens and privations of the war.

[Footnote 124: JOHNSON, vol. 1, pp. 40, 74.]

Obviously, this organization was one of the state fencible units
enlisted for defense only, but little else is known about it. In 1814
there was in Baltimore, a Corps of Marine Artillery commanded by a
Capt. George Stiles. The roster of this unit, however, does not
include the name John S. Stiles. Other records do indicate that a Lt.
John S. Stiles commanded a section of the Baltimore Union Artillery at
the Battle of North Point in 1814.[125] It is probable that John
Stiles, originally a member of the 1st Marine Artillery of the Union
had transferred his commission to the Baltimore Union Artillery.

[Footnote 125: SWANSON, pp. 253, 382.]

¶ An example of Militia officers' shoulder-belt plates of the period
1812-1816 is a solid silver oval plate (fig. 178) engraved with an
eagle and elements of the arms of Massachusetts within a shield
suspended from the eagle's neck. Being silver, the plate probably was
worn by infantry or possibly dragoons. Many such plates were locally
made, as was this one, and examination of a number of specimens gives
reason to believe that many were made by rolling out large silver
coins into thin ovals, which were then engraved and fitted with
fasteners on the reverse. The fasteners on all pieces studied indicate
that the plates were intended to be ornamental rather than functional.

[Illustration: FIGURE 178.--Specimen in Campbell collection.]

In the Pennsylvania State Museum there is a similar oval plate that
was worn by Col. Philip Spengler of that State's Militia in 1812-1816.
Ornamented with an eagle, with the initials "PS" within an oval below,
it generally follows the construction of the illustrated plate,
differing only slightly in size. Since plates of this general type
were made locally by hand, each is unique in itself. Identification
must depend upon an interpretation of the devices engraved on the
face. The initials of the officer for whom the plate was made are
often included.


_USNM 604310-M (S-K 466). Figure 179._

[Illustration: FIGURE 179]

A second example of a Militia officer's plate is this engraved brass
specimen with the design placed along the longer axis of the oval.
Since there probably were many "Volunteer Rifle Companies," it is
impossible to determine precisely which one wore this plate. The
initials of the officer may be read either "I. B." or "J. B.," for
many of the early-19th-century engravers used the forms of the letters
"I" and "J" interchangeably. The two small hooks on the reverse
indicate that the plate was for a shoulder belt rather than for a
waist belt, and that it was ornamental rather than functional.


_USNM 60325-M (S-K 81). Figure 180._

[Illustration: FIGURE 180]

This brass buckle, obviously made for a sword hanger, has an eagle in
flight above, a 13-star flag below, and four 5-pointed stars on either
side. The spearhead on the pike of the flag is definitely of military
design, and, in the absence of nautical devices in the engraving, the
buckle must be considered an army item.


_USNM 604121-M (S-K 278). Figure 181._

[Illustration: FIGURE 181]

Cast in silver and then carefully finished, this rectangular plate
with beveled edge is one of the most ornate and beautiful known. In
the center is an officer's marquee with an eagle, wings spread,
perched on top. In front of the marquee are a field piece with bombs,
cannon balls, and drum; the whole on grassy ground and superimposed on
a trophy of colors and bayonetted muskets. The canton of one color
has, instead of stars, an eagle with a shield on its breast and a
ribbon in its beak. It has been suggested that the eagle-in-canton
flag would tend to date the piece after 1820 when many Militia units
had the design in its colors;[126] however, flags of such design are
known to have been used as early as the last year of the
Revolution.[127] In addition, the "feel" of the specimen is early, and
it is included here as a possible Militia dragoon officer's plate
since the dragoons of the War of 1812 period generally wore their
swords attached to a waist belt rather than to a shoulder belt.

[Footnote 126: The national collections contain several such Militia

[Footnote 127: See WALL.]


_USNM 60449-M (S-K 205). Figure 182._

[Illustration: FIGURE 182]

This plate is typical of the early waist-belt plates, which generally
were more square than rectangular. It bears the over-all design of the
1814-1821 series of "common" cap plates. Struck in copper and
silvered, it would have been appropriate for either infantry or
dragoons, as both wore "white metal" trimmings during this period.
There are as many die variations known for this type belt plate as for
the matching cap plates.

The wide latitude allowed officers in selecting their own insignia
makes it quite possible that this design was worn by some officers of
the Regular Establishment, particularly those in the high-numbered
regiments, which were organized during the course of the War of 1812.
A third use of this basic design is indicated by a museum specimen at
Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y.: cut into its outline form, it was worn on the
side of Militia dragoon caps.


_USNM 60451-M (S-K 207). Figure 183._

[Illustration: FIGURE 183]

This brass plate is one of several similar examples made of both brass
and silvered copper that differ only in small die variations and the
use of either 5-pointed or 6-pointed stars. The arc of 17 stars in
this specimen may or may not be significant, because there were 17
states in the Union from 1802 until 1812 when Louisiana was admitted.
Not until 1816 did the 19th state, Indiana, come into the Union. After
thinking in terms of and working with 17 stars for a 10-year period,
die sinkers may well have overlooked the inclusion of a star for
Louisiana. Buttons for the Regular rifles made after 1812 but before
1821 show an arc of 17 stars.[128] As in the case of the preceding
plate, there is a good possibility that this one was worn by Regular
officers in 1814-1821. It is also probable that the pattern was made
and sold to Militia for many years after 1821.

[Footnote 128: JOHNSON, vol. 1, pp. 61.]


_USNM 60453-M (S-K 209). Figure 184._

[Illustration: FIGURE 184]

While this plate could have been worn by an officer of the Regular
artillery in the period 1814-1821 when uniform regulations were vague
and seldom enforced, it is more probable that it was a Militia item of
about 1821-1835. The reason for this is that the eagle-on-cannon
device was adopted quickly by Militia units when it was discarded by
the Regulars in 1821, and the over-all design of the plate itself
follows the pattern adopted by the Regulars in 1821 (see fig. 68).
Several artillery organizations of the Massachusetts Militia wore the
discarded button pattern (eagle-on-cannon with the word "CORPS" below)
until the 1840's,[129] and this plate would have been an ideal match.

[Footnote 129: JOHNSON, vol. 1, pp. 161, 162.]

The whole is cast in brass, the inner ring rather crudely so. The
outer ring is embossed with zig-zag fretwork enclosing a circle of
5-pointed stars; the rectangular belt attachments have a floral


_USNM 604123 (S-K 279). Figure 185._

[Illustration: FIGURE 185]

This plate, struck in copper, contains the basic devices of the State
of Maine seal enclosed by a curled ribbon border embellished with
5-pointed stars. The specimen is more square than rectangular, a
characteristic of waist-belt plates of the early 1800's. It was
probably worn by Maine Militia no later than the 1820's, possibly a
few years earlier. The method of attachment also is indicative of this
early period: the heavy vertical wire is brazed to one end of the
reverse, and the L-shaped tongue to the other. This plate obviously
was a stock pattern.


_USNM 60329-M (S-K 85). Figure 186._

[Illustration: FIGURE 186]

This plate, cast in brass, is typical of the small plates, both round
and rectangular, that were worn with light-weight, full-dress staff
swords. It is an example of the early, hand-made, bench-assembled
types. The outer ring carries the wreath typical of the period, while
the inner ring carries the eagle with its head to the right, shield on
breast, arrows in left talon, and olive branch in right talon. The
whole lies within a ring of 13 5-pointed stars; the uppermost five
stars are mixed with a sunburst rising from the eagle's wings.

WAIST-BELT PLATE, C. 1821(?)-1830

_USNM 60466-M (S-K 222). Figure 187._

[Illustration: FIGURE 187]

This brass, bench-assembled plate is similar to the Regular artillery
belt plate of 1816 (fig. 56) in that the design on the inner ring is
struck with a series of separate hand-held dies on a piece of blank
round stock. The floral design on the belt attachments is cast. In
many of the early bench-made plates, the final assemblyman marked the
matching pairs so that they could readily be re-paired after buffing
and plating. In this specimen, each ring bears the numeral XXVIII.


_USNM 60467-M (S-K 223). Figure 188._

[Illustration: FIGURE 188]

This plate, with the center ring struck in medium brass and the belt
attachment cast, was worn by Militia of New York State, as indicated
by the eagle-on-half-globe device taken from that state's seal. Of
brass, it is assigned to the artillery. The quality of the belt to
which it is attached and the ornateness of the plate itself indicate
that it was made for an officer. The left-hand belt attachment is


_USNM 60470-M (S-K 226). Figure 189._

[Illustration: FIGURE 189]

This small, cast-brass plate is another example of the plates made for
social or full-dress wear with the light-weight staff sword. The
design on the inner ring is unusual in that the eagle, with upraised
wings, is standing on the Federal shield. The plate is a bench-made
product, with the inner and outer rings bearing the numeral VII. It
was very probably a stock pattern for officers.


_USNM 60414-M (S-K 300). Figure 190._

[Illustration: FIGURE 190]

Rather unusual in construction, this small silver-on-copper
rectangular plate was struck in thin metal. Two broad tongues, for
attachment to a belt, are inserted in the rear; and the reverse is
filled with lead to imbed the fasteners. The eagle design is very
similar to the one prescribed for the caps of the Regular
Establishment in 1821, although somewhat reduced in size. The general
lack of finish and polish in construction indicates that the specimen
was probably the product of an inexperienced and small-scale


_USNM 60326-M (S-K 82). Figure 191._

[Illustration: FIGURE 191]

This unusually large plate, which is struck in medium brass and with
the edges crimped over a heavier piece of brass backing, is believed
to be an officer's plate because of its size, gilt finish, and
over-all ornate design. Within a floral and star pattern border, the
specimen is dominated by an eagle, on a sunburst background, that
holds in its left talon five arrows with points inward; above are 25
stars and an edge of clouds above. Arrows held with points inward are
usually considered indicative of the general period 1832-1836. If the
number of stars is of any significance, such dating would be correct,
as the canton of the National Colors contained 25 stars from 1836 to
1837. The central design used without the border is also known in
smaller, more standard sized plates. The design is a stock pattern.
This type plate is also known in both brass and silver.


_USNM 604348-M (S-K 504). Figure 192._

[Illustration: FIGURE 192]

This may well be a companion piece to the diamond-shaped cap plate
ascribed to the Washington Greys[130] of Philadelphia (see fig. 139).
In any case, the two appear to have been struck from the same die. It
may also have been worn by the Washington Greys of Reading,
Pennsylvania, or by another company of the same designation. The
specimen is struck in thin brass with a tin backing applied before the
strike and the edges crimped over the reverse. Three soldered
copper-wire staples provide means of attachment.

[Footnote 130: The spelling of "Grays" may or may not be significant.
A Huddy and Duval print of the Washington Greys in _U.S. Military
Magazine_ (April 1839, pl. 5) used "Greys" in the title and "Grays" on
an ammunition box in the same print.]

¶ Militia organizations generally modeled their uniforms rather
closely on those of the Regular Establishment; of course, there were
certain exceptions, notably the flamboyant Zouave units. However, the
Militia often added additional trimmings that gave the "gay and gaudy"
touch for which they were noted. Following the example of the
Regulars, the Militia adopted coat-skirt ornaments almost immediately
after their appearance in 1832. They used the regulation flaming
grenades, open and looped horns, and 5-and 6-pointed stars, but in
both gold and silver on varicolored backgrounds and in a wide variety
of sizes. They also used a number of peculiarly Militia forms, such as
crossed-cannon, elements of state seals, and devices peculiar to
specific units.


_USNM 604961-M (S-K 1105). Figure 193._

[Illustration: FIGURE 193]

Typical of Militia coat-skirt ornaments is this pair of crossed cannon
devices for Militia artillery. They are of gold embroidery on a
background of black velvet. Similar pairs in the national collections
are embroidered in silver. The Regular artillery never wore the
crossed cannon device on the skirt of the coat; so used, it was
exclusively a Militia ornament.


_USNM 604963 (S-K 1107). Figure 194._

[Illustration: FIGURE 194]

Another coat-skirt ornament with an even more distinctly Militia touch
is this small palmetto tree of gold embroidery, with sequins, on
black wool cloth. As the palmetto tree is the basic device of the
South Carolina seal (see pp. 81 and 83), this specimen must be
attributed to the Militia of that state.

¶ Most Militia cartridge-box plates made in the decade after 1841 were
oval, following the pattern of the Regulars. While a few of these
varied from the prescribed sizes, most were almost identical in both
size and shape to those of the Regular Establishment, but with
strictly Militia ornamentation. The exact years in which these plates
were produced cannot be determined, but it is reasonably sure that
they were supplied to Militia for some years prior to the opening of
the Civil War. Not included here are similar types known to have been
made for units born of the war as the Pennsylvania Fire Zouaves,
Pennsylvania Home Guard, Pennsylvania Reserve Brigade, and the Ohio
Volunteer Militia. Cartridge-box and waist-belt plates often are
identical except for the methods of attachment. The plates for
cartridge boxes have two wire loops imbedded in the backing (see fig.
90), while those for waist belts have one or two round, or sometimes
arrowheaded, prongs on one side of the reverse, and with a narrow
tongue on the opposite side bent parallel to the plane of the plate
(see fig. 91).


_USNM 60400-M (S-K 156). Figure 195._

[Illustration: FIGURE 195]

This brass, oval cartridge-box plate, with its eagle on a panoply of
arms and colors, closely matches in size the 1841 Regular cavalry's
plates for carbine cartridge boxes and the infantry's waist belts.
Although plates of this design were worn as waist-belt plates, the two
looped-wire fasteners on the reverse of this specimen clearly indicate
its use on a cartridge box. This was undoubtedly a stock pattern. An
oil painting of Capt. George Bumm, Pennsylvania State Artillery, c.
1840, shows the subject wearing a waist-belt plate of this same

[Footnote 131: _Old Print Shop Folio_, p. 216.]


_USNM 60401-M (S-K 157). Figure 196._

[Illustration: FIGURE 196]

Slightly smaller than the preceding specimen, this brass plate bears
the eagle design popular from 1821 to 1851. Fitted with looped-wire
fasteners, it would have been a stock pattern for cartridge boxes.


_USNM 60354-M (S-K 606). Figure 197._

[Illustration: FIGURE 197]

A frequently misidentified plate is this brass-struck, lead-filled
oval with the raised letters "VMM" for Volunteer Maine Militia. It is
also known in a smaller size. The reverse is fitted with the two
looped-wire fasteners normal to such plates.

Other prewar oval plates bearing raised letters are known for the
Alabama Volunteer Corps (AVC), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina
(SC), State of New York (SNY), and New Hampshire State Militia (NHSM).
Many such plates recently have been reproduced for sale, and more
probably will be made if a market is created. Thus, all plates of
this general type should be cautiously considered.


_USNM 60354-M (S-K 110). Figure 198._

[Illustration: FIGURE 198]

One of the more unusual forms of the militant eagle used on ornaments
is shown on this brass die sample for a waist-belt plate. The eagle,
with fierce mien and wings outspread, stands high on a craggy ledge.
An example of an untold number of odd and unusual pieces of insignia,
this specimen is unidentified as to unit or area of intended use. It
may well have been designed for use as a stock pattern.


_USNM 604103-M (S-K 259). Figure 199._

[Illustration: FIGURE 199]

A stock pattern, this plate is struck in brass with the open-horn
device of riflemen, which has been previously discussed. Wire
fasteners are on the reverse. Although the outer ring of the plate is
missing, it was probably decorated with a wreath, a common form in the
1830's and 1840's.


_USNM 604385-M (S-K 532). Figure 200._

[Illustration: FIGURE 200]

This 2-piece, brass-cast plate was worn by members of a Charlestown,
Massachusetts, unit. The date "1786," as on nearly all dated pieces
of insignia, refers to the date of original organization of the unit.
The design of the plate is typical of early- to mid-Victorian taste.


_USNM 60497-M (S-K 253). Figure 201._

[Illustration: FIGURE 201]

Bearing elements of the seal of the State of Massachusetts, this plate
likely was a stock pattern sold to many officers. In construction, it
is a composite piece similar to the plate for officers of the Corps of
Topographical Engineers (see fig. 87 and p. 45) with the device
applied to the inner oval. Because of its unusually striking
appearance, it would have been a most appropriate type for staff and
field officers, and possibly general officers.


_USNM 604126-M (S-K 282). Figure 202._

[Illustration: FIGURE 202]

This plate, struck in poor-quality, medium-weight brass, is of a stock
pattern bearing the eagle-on-half-globe device and the motto
"Excelsior" from the New York State seal superimposed on a panoply of
arms and colors. This type of belt plate, with the device on the inner
panel and a wreath between the inner and outer borders, is most
characteristic of the 1840's. More than ten different plates are known
that vary only as to the design of the inner panel; some contain New
York State heraldic devices, and others contain variants of the usual
eagle design of the period.


_USNM 604390 (S-K 537). Figure 203._

[Illustration: FIGURE 203]

The devices on this cast-brass plate comprise the arms of the City of
Philadelphia, and its form and pattern, especially the floral design
of the outer ring, place it in the 1840's. The piece is bench-made and
carries on the reverse many marks of the file used in its final
assembly. It must be considered a stock pattern.


_USNM 604241-M (S-K 397). Figure 204._

[Illustration: FIGURE 204]

Somewhat larger than many plates of the period, this brass specimen
carries the South Carolina palmetto device. Such plates also were
struck in copper and silver plated. It obviously was a stock pattern
sold to several different units. The rectangular plate with the
vine-patterned border was a stock pattern in itself, with many
different devices being added in the center as ordered. This is one of
the many pieces of insignia too often called Confederate but which
ante-date the Civil War by almost two decades.


_USNM 604388-M (S-K 535). Figure 205._

[Illustration: FIGURE 205]

The eagle device on this silver-on-copper specimen closely resembles
that on the cap plate of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry
(USNM 604964-M) and may possibly be the matching belt-plate worn by
that organization. Such an eagle, however, would have been a stock
pattern of the manufacturer, and sold to many different units. A very
unusual aspect of this particular eagle are the three arrows held in
the left talon: two of them point inward, the third outward.


_USNM 604106-M (S-K 262). Figure 206._

[Illustration: FIGURE 206]

Although members of the artillery of the Regular Establishment wore
the crossed-cannon device on their shakos, they never wore it on
waist- or shoulder-belt plates. Thus, this cast-brass plate must have
been a stock pattern sold to many Militia units. The outer ring is


_USNM 604107-M (S-K 263). Figure 207._

[Illustration: FIGURE 207]

This specimen, roughly cast in brass and gilded, is unusual because
the Militia rarely used the letters "U S" on any of its equipment. The
pattern does not conform to anything prescribed for Regulars and the
quality does not come up to standards required by the Regular
Establishment; hence it must have been worn by Militia. It would have
been a stock pattern. There is the possibility that it might have been
worn by diplomatic personnel, but its poor quality makes this


_USNM 604387-M (S-K 534). Figure 208._

[Illustration: FIGURE 208]

The over-all design of this plate, which is cast roughly in brass and
gilded, reflects the growing ornateness of the Victorian era.
Obviously a stock pattern, it would have suited the fancy of several
units and cannot be identified further than "for Militia." The design
of the eagle is unusual in that three arrows are carried in the right
talon--although it is possible that this is intended to reflect the
belligerency inherent in the period of the War with Mexico--and there
is a single large star in the canton of the Federal shield.


_USNM 604458-M (S-K 605). Figure 209._

[Illustration: FIGURE 209]

The generalities that apply to all "stock pattern" insignia are
equally valid in referring to this brass-struck plate with a 5-pointed
star as its sole ornament. Dating its period of design poses no
difficulty, for it contains the panel with wreath inside an edging
border characteristic of the 1840's. The star device would have been
appropriate for Militia units of Maine ("North Star"), Texas ("Lone
Star"), or for dragoon units that took the star as a distinctive
insignia. Although it may have been worn by Texans, it is doubtful
that it was made originally for them. The design enjoyed a long life,
and plates of this general pattern were struck well into the 1880's.
The major difference between earlier and later specimens is that the
early ones were struck on rather heavy sheets of copper-colored brass,
with fasteners consisting of a tongue and heavy wire loops brazed to
the reverse. The later plates have a bright brassy color, are struck
on thin brass, and have the loop and tongue soldered rather than


_USNM 604108-M (S-K 264). Figure 210._

[Illustration: FIGURE 210]

The lack of a mane on the beast on this plate marks it as a tiger. The
best known and most affluent Militia organization with the nickname
"Tigers" was the Boston Light Infantry, although a number of others
also were so-called. The craftsmanship and general elegance of this
gold-plated brass specimen suggests that it was worn by an officer,
though an occasional volunteer company was so richly endowed that all
its members, officers and enlisted men alike, wore expensive devices.
The bench-assembled manufacturing technique, gaudy embellishment, and
lack of a distinct Victorian touch date the piece about 1840. The
tiger's head is applied.


_USNM 604104-M (S-K 260). Figure 211._

[Illustration: FIGURE 211]

The full-flowing mane on the beast on this plate identifies it as a
lion. The device would have been appropriate for wear by the Albany
Burgesses Corps, which, when founded in 1833, almost immediately
adopted the lion's head as its distinctive insignia. The unit
continued to wear this plate for about half a century. While that
unit's cap plate (fig. 170) is much more formal and is without a
lion's head, its buttons contain the lion--with head turned to
half-right--as a principal ornament. While it is probable that the
original die for this cast-brass plate was sunk for the Albany
organization, the manufacturer would not have hesitated to offer it
for sale to any interested Militia unit.


_USNM 60479-M (S-K 235). Figure 212._

[Illustration: FIGURE 212]

The raised letters "W G" on this cast-brass and gilded plate would
have been suitable for many Militia units of the period. We can only
suggest that it may have been worn by members of a "Washington Greys"
or "Washington Guard" from Pennsylvania or New York. A round plate
with an outer wreath would have been more appropriate for officers
than for enlisted personnel.


_USNM 604137-M (S-K 293). Figure 213._

[Illustration: FIGURE 213]

The waist-belt plates shown in the _U.S. Military Magazine_[132] for
the Washington Greys of Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania, while
indistinct, are definitely not of this pattern. Thus, this brass plate
with its sunken letters filled with black enamel must have been worn
by yet a third unit with such a name. Additional specimens in the
national collections have the company letters "G" and "K."

[Footnote 132: April 1839, pl. 5; June 1839, pl. 10.]


_USNM 604294-M (S-K 450). Figure 214._

[Illustration: FIGURE 214]

This oval, convex, brass plate, with two studs and a hook soldered to
the reverse for attachment, very probably was originally a
shoulder-belt plate. The letters "W L G" incised on the obverse are
very patently the added work of an engraver of no great talent. The
letters doubtless stand for Washington Light Guard, and, since there
were several Militia units of that designation, it seems possible that
one of the less affluent units bought the plates and had them engraved


_USNM 604386-M (S-K 533). Figure 215._

[Illustration: FIGURE 215]

There were City Guards in Charleston, South Carolina, New York City,
Philadelphia, and possibly in other places. Thus it is impossible to
determine just which of these units wore this cast-brass plate. The
ornamented outer oval is typical of the 1840's.


_USNM 60206-M. Figure 216._

[Illustration: FIGURE 216]

A number of Militia units carried the designation "National Guard."
The unit that used this particular plate was from New Jersey, for
scratched on the reverse is "Sergeant O. Clinton, October 9th, 1851,
1st Reg Hudson Brigade, NJSM"; However, the adjutant general, State of
New Jersey, was unable to give any information on such an
organization. The specimen is cut from rolled brass with sunken
letters filled with black enamel.

¶ Shoulder-belt plates underwent the same transition as cap plates did
beginning about 1837-1838, with the single die strike plate yielding
to the composite plate, and applied devices being attached to oval,
rectangular, or rectangular "clipped corner" plates. While some single
die plates were made and worn after 1840, no composite types that
predate 1835 are known. The following group of shoulder-belt plates
are typical of those that first appeared about 1840. Of these, several
continued unchanged through the Civil War and into the 1870's and


_USNM 604341-M (S-K 497). Figure 217._

[Illustration: FIGURE 217]

This unusually large, oval, brass plate with the letters "C G" in
silver applied with wire fasteners is another of that sizable group of
lettered insignia that cannot be attributed definitely to a particular
organization. The "C G" may stand variously for City Guard, Cleveland
Greys, Charleston Guard, or some other organization. With a stock of
oval and rectangular blanks and a set of lettering and number-cutting
dies, an almost limitless combination of plates could be turned out by
a single manufacturer.


_USNM 604470-M (S-K 617). Figure 218._

[Illustration: FIGURE 218]

The basic form of this brass plate--with one of the many variations of
the seal of the State of New York[133] applied with wire fasteners--is
a copy, with minor changes, of the bevelled plate prescribed for the
Regular Establishment in 1839. Distinctly an officer's plate, it would
have been appropriate for artillery or staff.

[Footnote 133: ZIEBER, p. 166.]


_USNM 604331-M (S-K 487). Figure 219._

[Illustration: FIGURE 219]

This composite plate, struck in brass, has a bevelled, rectangular
base almost identical to the base of the 1839 regulation plate (see
fig. 86). The design consists of a silvered center ornament comprising
a trophy of flags, a sword, and a liberty pole surmounted by a wreath
of laurel inclosing fasces and a Federal shield with 26 stars in its
canton. This silver ornament is applied with four simple wire
fasteners rather than soldered. Since the sun rays in the background
radiate outward not from the center but from the edge of a circle
about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, almost any desired center ornament
could have been added to the basic strike, or the plate could be
struck a second time to add a device integral to it. Thus the
background portion of the specimen must be considered a stock pattern.
A print of the National Guards of Philadelphia in _U.S. Military
Magazine_ for October 1841 shows an officer wearing a similar plate.
If the stars are significant, the plate can be dated between 1837 and


_USNM 604471-M (S-K 618). Figure 220._

[Illustration: FIGURE 220]

In this plate, the center ornament used in the preceding specimen has
been struck directly in a rectangular, bevelled background. However,
the background of this plate has a stippled surface rather than a
sunburst. An interesting feature is that there are four slots punched
through the plate for the attachment of an additional device over the
wreath and shield. This is another of the many examples of how a unit
might have an insignia distinctive to itself at little extra cost.
This plate is obviously of a stock pattern. The national collections
also contain a die sample of this particular plate.


_USNM 604472-M (S-K 619). Figure 221._

[Illustration: FIGURE 221]

Another example of the rectangular, bevelled-edged, shoulder-belt
plate for officers is this brass-cast copy of the 1839 Regular Army
pattern with the wire-fastened letters "S V G" substituted for "U. S."
The specimen bears a touchmark "W. Pinchin Philad" on the reverse (see
p. 33). The unit for which this plate was made is unidentified.


_USNM 604394-M (S-K 541). Figure 222._

[Illustration: FIGURE 222]

The silver letters "S F" applied with wire fasteners to the small
brass plate are most appropriate for the State Fencibles of
Philadelphia, and it is believed to have possibly been worn by that
unit in the 1840's. A print in the _U.S. Military Magazine_[134]
portraying this unit shows an officer wearing a plate of an entirely
different design, but since a plate in this simple form would most
probably have been worn by enlisted personnel, and the soldier in the
print is to be seen only from the rear, such identification as to unit
may be correct.

[Footnote 134: March 1839, pl. 2.]


_USNM 604339-M (S-K 495). Figure 223._

[Illustration: FIGURE 223]

This unusually large silver-on-copper plate with its brass letters "B
L I", "1798", and brass tiger's head is attributed to the Boston Light
Infantry. The applied devices are attached with simple wire fasteners.
The date 1798 is believed to be the year of the original organization
of the unit, but the adjutant general of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts was unable to verify this.


_USNM. 604351-M (S-K 507). Figure 224._

[Illustration: FIGURE 224]

The _New York Military Magazine_ provides us with a strong clue in
identifying this clipped-corner, bevelled-edged brass plate with a
silver-on-copper tiger's head applied. In a sketch of the Light Guard
of New York it is related that, following a visit in 1836 to the
Boston Light Infantry, members of the company "adopted, as part of
their uniform, a silver tiger's head, to be placed on the breast
plate, as a further memento of the spirited and elegant corps whose
guests they had been."[135] This specimen is in agreement with that

[Footnote 135: _New York Military Magazine_ (1841), vol. 1, p. 118.]


_USNM 604352-M (S-K 508). Figure 225._

[Illustration: FIGURE 225]

An unusual manufacturing technique was used in making this plate. It
was struck in very heavy brass about 1/16 inch thick and the whole
tinned; then, all the tin on the obverse, except that on the crested
helmet device, was buffed away, giving the center ornament the
appearance of having been silvered. The specimen obviously was made
for a particular mounted unit, designation unknown. An interesting
detail is the letter "A" on the half-sunburst plate of the dragoon
helmet device.


_USNM 604350-M (S-K 506). Figure 226._

[Illustration: FIGURE 226]

This plate, which is of brass with a cast, white-metal likeness of
Washington applied with wire fasteners, may well have belonged to
either the Washington Greys of Philadelphia or the unit of the same
designation of Reading, Pennsylvania. Prints of these two
organizations in _U.S. Military Magazine_[136] show profiles on the
shoulder-belts plates, although the plate of the Reading unit is
depicted as being oval.

[Footnote 136: April 1839, pl. 5; June 1839, pl. 10.]


_USNM 604337-M (S-K 493). Figure 227._

[Illustration: FIGURE 227]

This brass plate with its wire-applied devices obviously belonged to
an Irish-group Militia unit. The Huddy and Duval print of the Hibernia
Greens of Philadelphia[137] definitely depicts an Irish harp on both
the shoulder-belt plate and the cap plate, but the motto "ERIN GO
BRAGH" is not included. The specimen would have been suitable for
several Militia organizations, such as the Irish Jasper Greens of
Savannah, Georgia, and the Montgomery Hibernia Greens. Its devices are
wire-applied, and it possibly was a stock pattern.

[Footnote 137: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (January 1840), pl. 27.]


_USNM 604340 (S-K 496). Figure 228._

[Illustration: FIGURE 228]

This plain brass plate, having wire-applied pewter letters "S L I" is
believed to have been worn by the Salem Light Infantry of


_USNM 604343-M (S-K 499). Figure 229._

[Illustration: FIGURE 229]

Letters signifying the New England Guards are embossed on a shield of
white metal that is attached to this brass plate, which has scalloped
corners. Although the officer depicted in the Huddy and Duval print of
the New England Guards[138] wears a waist belt rather than a shoulder
belt for his sword, the soldier standing in the background is shown
with crossed shoulder belts. Thus, this plate may have been an item of
equipment for enlisted personnel rather than for officers.

[Footnote 138: _U.S. Military Magazine_ (November 1839), pl. 21.]


_USNM 604342-M (S-K 498). Figure 230._

[Illustration: FIGURE 230]

Although the white-metal arm and sword on wreath device wired to this
large brass plate immediately identifies the origin of the specimen as
Massachusetts, the considerable heraldic license taken by this
insignia-maker is only too evident. When the Massachusetts State seal
was first adopted in 1780, the blazonry of the crest was given as
follows: "On a Wreath a dexter Arm cloathed and ruffled proper,
grasping a Broad Sword...."[139] The designer has placed the arm in
armor and replaced the "broad sword" with a scimiter-like, edged
weapon. The use of the crest of a state seal or coat of arms to
indicate the state was common usage, with the eagle-on-half-globe of
New York providing an excellent example. This plate would have been
appropriate for wear by any Massachusetts unit, and is thus considered
to have been a stock pattern.

[Footnote 139: ZIEBER, pp. 143-144.]


_USNM 604454-M (S-K 601). Figure 231._

[Illustration: FIGURE 231]

The silver palmetto tree identifies this as a South Carolina plate.
The letters "L" and "A" are subject to several interpretations, the
more probable being "Light Artillery." The devices are attached with
simple wire fasteners, and the basic brass plate can be considered to
have been a stock item adaptable to any number of units.


_USNM 60357-M (S-K 113). Figure 232._

[Illustration: FIGURE 232]

This brass, lead-backed badge bears no devices that would assist in
identifying it as to unit, and its general composition would have made
it appealing to more than one Militia organization. It is considered a
stock pattern. The stars-on-belt motif, forming the border of the
oval, is very unusual, as are the 14 arrows in the eagle's left talon
and the star beneath its beak. The center eagle device is applied with
simple wire fasteners.

¶ Following the War with Mexico, many State Militia, especially those
in the south, began using their state coats of arms as the principal
devices on their waist-belt plates. The plates for officers followed
the earlier pattern for Regulars, a round device clasped within an
outer ring. Plates of enlisted personnel more often were rectangular,
but there were many exceptions. The following series includes examples
of both types.


_USNM 604221-M (S-K 377). Figure 233._

[Illustration: FIGURE 233]

The old Alabama State seal with a representation of a map of the State
hung from a tree trunk, as depicted on the inner ring of this
cast-brass waist-belt plate, became obsolete after the Civil War when
the "reconstruction" government changed the device to that of an eagle
resting on a Federal shield. Some years later, however, the original
seal, in somewhat modified form, was readopted. Although made in the
early 1850's, plates of this type were worn by personnel of the
Confederate States Army throughout the Civil War. Many plates of this
same basic pattern were made in England and run through the blockade.


_USNM 604389-M (S-K 536). Figure 234._

[Illustration: FIGURE 234]

The 31 six-pointed stars in the outer ring of this cast-brass plate
bearing the central elements of the California State seal indicate
that it was made after statehood was granted in 1850 but before 1858
when Minnesota became the 32d State. Actually, this design for the
arms of the State was adopted in anticipation of admission to the
Union, on October 2, 1849.[140] The ornate design of this plate is
more characteristic of the 1840's than later, indicating that it was
made very early in the 1850's.

[Footnote 140: ZIEBER, p. 114.]


_USNM 604224-M (S-K 380). Figure 235._

[Illustration: FIGURE 235]

The palm tree, standing alone, although sometimes mistaken for the
palmetto of South Carolina, is representative of the State of Florida.
Thus, this plate is ascribed to Florida Militia, about 1850. The late
Richard D. Steuart, of Baltimore, Maryland, an outstanding authority
on Confederate equipment and accoutrements, was firm in asserting that
this pattern should be ascribed to Florida.


_USNM 604124-M (S-K 280). Figure 236._

[Illustration: FIGURE 236]

While cast-brass plates of this type were first made in the early
1850's, their use continued for 20 years or more after that decade.
The principal device on this specimen is taken from the arms of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The form of the plate is identical to
the pattern of the eagle-wreath plate adopted by the Regulars in 1851.


_USNM 604244-M (S-K 400). Figure 237._

[Illustration: FIGURE 237]

The star device was used by the Militia of both Texas and Maine, as
well as by volunteer units located in other states; thus, this plate
cannot be ascribed to any particular geographical area. Plates such as
this, with the silver wreath of laurel and palm, are patterned
directly after the basic plate prescribed for officers of the Corps of
Engineers in 1841. They would have been stock items for general sale.


_USNM 604242-M (S-K 398). Figure 238._

[Illustration: FIGURE 238]

This cast-brass officer's plate, a pre-Civil War product of American
manufacture, would have been appropriate for wear by Texas Militia.
Obviously a stock pattern, it would also have been sold to Militia
organizations in other parts of the country. As in the case of most
round plates, the outer ring is of a standard design; variation in
pattern would occur on the inner ring.


_USNM 604125-M (S-K 281). Figure 239._

[Illustration: FIGURE 239]

This brass-struck rectangular plate carries the arms of the State of
New York[141] with its familiar eagle-on-half-globe device. The whole
is superimposed on a sunburst background. The plate originally was
made for Militia, but it is conceivable that such a plate may have
been worn by early uniformed police.

[Footnote 141: For the variations in the arms of New York see ZIEBER,
pp. 166-167.]


_USNM 60487-M (S-K 243). Figure 240._

[Illustration: FIGURE 240]

This brass-cast plate with its letters "S N Y" for State of New York
is copied directly from the 1836 plate for noncommissioned officers of
the Regular Establishment. The example is the oldest known use of the
letters "S N Y" for New York Militia. In later patterns, the letters
"S N Y" and "N Y" were placed on rectangular plates and on oval plates
worn on the waist belt and on cartridge boxes just prior to and during
the Civil War. Small square plates with silver, Old English letters
"NY" are included in the 1900 catalog of the Warnock Uniform Co. of
New York as regulation pattern that year for National Guard officers.


_USNM. 604141-M (S-K 297). Figure 241._

[Illustration: FIGURE 241]

This cast-brass plate bears the arms of the city of New York
superimposed on an almost full sunburst. The surrounding wreath of
laurel is taken directly from the plate authorized for general and
staff officers of the Regular Establishment in 1832. While this is
thought to be the plate for the New York City Guards, for whom a
matching shoulder-belt plate is known, there is the possibility that
it was also worn by uniformed police of the 1850's.


_USNM 604393-M (S-K 340). Figure 242._

[Illustration: FIGURE 242]

A stock pattern, this cast-brass and gilded plate would have been
appropriate for any of the several organizations called "National
Guards" or "National Greys" that existed in a number of states. The
letters "N G" do not connote the National Guard as we know it today.


_USNM 604136-M (S-K 292). Figure 243._

[Illustration: FIGURE 243]

The center piece applied to this cast-brass plate with wire fasteners
bears an early form of the arms of the State of Ohio.[142] The plate
proper has holes in it other than those needed to apply the present
device, which indicates that it was a stock part, or possibly that the
present center device is not original to the plate.

[Footnote 142: For an interesting discussion of the evolution of the
arms of Ohio see PREBLE, pp. 639-642.]


_USNM 604130-M (S-K 286). Figure 244._

[Illustration: FIGURE 244]

This plate bears another variation of the Ohio State arms. Here, the
arms lie within a wreath as prescribed for Regular general and staff
officers in 1832. The entire specimen is cast in brass; the wreath,
sun, arrows, canal wall, and hull of keelboat are silvered.


_USNM 60474-M (S-K 230). Figure 245._

[Illustration: FIGURE 245]

Officers of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia wore plates of this
type in the 1850's, although most were discarded in 1861 when
Pennsylvania troops went into active Federal service. The outer ring,
with floral wreath design, has been modified to give the appearance of
a solid rectangle. Another plate in the national collections bears the
letters "P V M" with the conventional outer ring.


_USNM 60480-M (S-K 236). Figure 246._

[Illustration: FIGURE 246]

Just prior to 1850 there were two Militia units in Philadelphia using
the letters "P G" to indicate organizational designation--the
Philadelphia Guards and the Philadelphia City Greys. This brass-cast
plate is believed to have been worn by the Philadelphia Guards, whose
buttons were marked "P G." The buttons worn by the Philadelphia City
Greys carried the three letters "P C G."[143]

[Footnote 143: JOHNSON, vol. 1, p. 145, vol. 2, pl. 63.]


_USNM 604147-M (S-K 303). Figure 247._

[Illustration: FIGURE 247]

The letters and device on this rather unusual brass plate make its
identification easy. The letters stand for the Providence [R.I.]
Marine Corps Artillery; the date 1801 is the unit's original
organization date. The crossed cannon indicate Militia artillery. The
letters and numerals are of white metal and brazed to the plate. The
brass crossed cannon are affixed with wire fasteners. The reverse is
fitted with a broad tongue and two wire hooks for attachment.


_USNM 604455-M (S-K 602). Figure 248._

[Illustration: FIGURE 248]

Although this specimen is not so old as the similar South Carolina
plate described previously (fig. 162), it is believed to date about
1850. The plate proper is of rolled brass, and the applied device,
which comprises well-known elements of the arms of South Carolina, is
struck in brass and attached by means of two wire staples and leather


_USNM 604253-M (S-K 409). Figure 249._

[Illustration: FIGURE 249]

This plate, carrying the Virginia seal, was made about 1850 for wear by
officers. Similar plates made by British manufacturers during the Civil
War to be run through the blockade are generally distinguishable by
their unusually sharp, clean die work. The center device of this
specimen is struck in brass and brazed in place; the remainder of the
plate is brass-cast.


_USNM 60489-M (S-K 245). Figure 250._

[Illustration: FIGURE 250]

The unit for which this plate was made cannot be precisely identified.
It is reasonable to assume that there were several Militia
organizations called "Gray Guards." The central "G" probably indicates
"Company G." The whole is cast brass.


_USNM 60490-M (S-K 246). Figure 251._

[Illustration: FIGURE 251]

This plain brass plate of unusually fine manufacture is very
definitely a stock pattern which could have been sold without ornament
or, as was more likely, with a center device added by soldering or
brazing. The plate was cast in three pieces, with the round center
brazed to the belt attachment. It was bench-fitted, as indicated by
the numbers on the reverse of the inner and outer rings.


_USNM 60498-M (S-K 254). Figure 252._

[Illustration: FIGURE 252]

This is a typical stock pattern with the company designation "E."
Other specimens in the national collections have the letters "D," "F,"
"K," and "R." Although rather crudely cast in brass, this piece has
been bench-fitted and then gilded.


_USNM 60492-M (S-K 248). Figure 253._

[Illustration: FIGURE 253]

This is another stock pattern with company designation. In this case,
the numeral "1" has been applied with wire fasteners rather than cast
integrally with the two portions of the plate. The national
collections also contain similar plates with the numerals "2," "26,"
and "36."


_USNM 60468-M (S-K 224). Figure 254._

[Illustration: FIGURE 254]

This is another typical stock pattern with the eagle-on-shield device
surrounded by 13 5-pointed stars as the center ornament. It is cast in
brass in two pieces. An example of this plate, on a belt, formed part
of a cased Sharps rifle outfit displayed at the 1960 National Rifle
Association meeting in Washington, D.C.


_USNM 60499-M (S-K 255). Figure 255._

[Illustration: FIGURE 255]

The musician's lyre has never been strictly a military ornament, being
widely worn by civilian bands; thus, this plate cannot precisely be
identified as military or nonmilitary. Unlike most plates of this type
and period, the entire piece is struck in brass rather than cast.


_USNM 60485-M (S-K 241). Figure 256._

[Illustration: FIGURE 256]

The letters "T C B" on this brass-cast plate open wide the doors of
conjecture as to interpretation. Possible combinations range from
Trenton City Blues (if such a Militia organization ever existed) to
Troy Cornet Band, a nonmilitary unit. Plates such as this can seldom
be positively identified.


_USNM 60478-M (S-K 234). Figure 257._

[Illustration: FIGURE 257]

As in the case of the preceding plate, the letters "H R" on this
specimen cannot be specifically identified. Similar unidentified
plates in the national collections have the letters "S O I" and "P B."


_USNM 604167-M (S-K 323). Figure 258._

[Illustration: FIGURE 258]

This plate is known both in heavy metal stamping and in thin, cheap
brass. Examples of the latter type appear to have been struck in the
period of the 1890's from a die then 50 years old. A plate similar to
this one has been excavated from a Civil War battlefield site. A stock
pattern, the design was obsolete for issue to Militia before the
Civil War, but it is known to have been continued almost to the end of
the century for use by groups such as secondary school cadet corps.

¶ The shoulder-belt plates worn in the 1850's were little changed from
those of the preceding decade. In the Regular Establishment the
shoulder belt and plate for officers had been discarded in favor of
the waist belt for carrying the sword, but Militia officers--bound by
no regulations--continued to wear the shoulder belt. Enlisted
personnel wore at least one shoulder belt, and in many cases used two
belts, which crossed, one belt carrying the cartridge box and the
other the bayonet and scabbard. Mounted Militia sometimes wore the
saber on a waist belt and the carbine cartridge box on a shoulder
belt. It is interesting to note that the custom of using elements of
state seals on waist-belt plates was not followed to any great extent
in the embellishment of shoulder-belt plates except in the Southern


_USNM 604451-M (S-K 598). Figure 259._

[Illustration: FIGURE 259]

In size and pattern this plate is exactly like that prescribed for the
Regular Establishment in 1841, substituting the arms of South Carolina
for the eagle. It possibly may date as early as 1845. Made for South
Carolina Militia, plates similar to this were worn during the Civil
War and several have been recovered from battlefield sites. The
specimen is struck in brass and the reverse filled with lead. It has
three bent-wire fasteners imbedded in the reverse, which indicates
that it was decorative rather than functional. A similar plate with
elements of the Virginia State seal is known. Modern reproductions of
both are being sold.


_USNM 604446-M (S-K 593). Figure 260._

[Illustration: FIGURE 260]

A popular stock pattern of the 1850's, this design with the silver
numeral "1" on a rectangle of rolled brass was worn for at least half
a century after it first appeared. Similar plates are known with all
numerals through 9 and a few higher numbers. Other plates of the same
general type are known with company letters "A" through "M." The plate
proper is fitted with two brass wire hooks and a medium width tongue,
indicating a functional use. The numeral is attached by means of two
staples with leather thongs reeved through on the reverse of the


_USNM 654360-M (S-K 516). Figure 261._

[Illustration: FIGURE 261]

This rolled-brass plate with its silver "TC" monogram is presently
unidentified. In the national collections there is a Militia helmet
with the same device used as part of the cap plate; also known is
another insignia, comprising the monogram alone, that was used as a
cartridge-box device. _New York Military Magazine_ for July 17, 1841,
refers to the elegant armory of the Troy [N.Y.] Corps where the Light
Guard of New York had been visitors. This plate may have been an
insignia of that organization. The monogram is affixed with staples
and leather thongs, and the plate proper carries a large safety pin
soldered to the reverse for purely decorative attachment. It is
unknown whether the safety pin fasteners are contemporary with the
plates to which they are attached. Rudimentary safety pins were known
in Egypt before Christ, but they apparently did not appear in America
until the 1830's and 1840's. Walter Hunt patented the first American
safety pin in 1849.[144]

[Footnote 144: U.S. Patent 6281 (April 10, 1849).]


_USNM 604361-M (S-K 517). Figure 262._

[Illustration: FIGURE 262]

Several Militia organizations of the 1840's and 1850's were called
"Republican Guards," and this silver "RG" monogram on a rolled-brass
rectangle would have been appropriate on shoulder belts of so-named
units. The monogram is affixed with wire fasteners, but the means of
attachment for the plate proper are missing.


_USNM 604362 (S-K 518). Figure 263._

[Illustration: FIGURE 263]

The silver letters "GG" on this rolled-brass plate present several
possibilities for identification. Among the uniformed Militia units
of the 1840's and 1850's were Garibaldi Guards, German Guards, and
Gray Guards. This piece could have been the device of any of the
three. The letters are affixed with wire fasteners, and a safety pin
is soldered to the rear of the plate proper for decorative attachment.


_USNM 604363-M (S-K 519). Figure 264._

[Illustration: FIGURE 264]

This oval brass plate with the wire-affixed silver-on-copper letters
"AG" is unidentified, but it might well have been worn by the American
Guards, or by a uniformed company from some city as Atlanta or Albany,
with the letter "G" representing "Grays," "Guards," "Grenadiers," or
the like. It was attached to the belt with three simple wire


_USNM 604335-M (S-K 491). Figure 265._

[Illustration: FIGURE 265]

The white-metal device on this brass plate comprises elements of the
arms of "New Amsterdam" topped by the crest of the arms of New York
State with supporting figures representing the original Indian owner
of Manhattan Island and the mariner who became the first white
settler. The specimen is believed to have been worn by the New York
City Guard. The device is affixed with three staples originally
intended to be reeved through with leather thongs, although now bent
over. The means of attachment of the plate proper are missing.


_USNM 604364-M (S-K 520). Figure 266._

[Illustration: FIGURE 266]

The letters "K L G" forming the white-metal monogram on this brass
plate indicate that it could well have been worn by the Kentish Light
Guard of Rhode Island. The monogram is attached by means of two
staples with thongs reeved through, and the plate proper is fitted
with four similar staples. The reverse bears the hallmark of William
H. Horstmann and Sons, well-known military outfitters of Philadelphia.


_USNM 604336-M (S-K 492). Figure 267._

[Illustration: FIGURE 267]

The white-metal letters "SG" on this brass plate lend themselves to so
many interpretations that no identification is attempted. The applied
device has two staples for attachment, and the plate proper is fitted
with a safety pin on the reverse.


_USNM 604338-M (S-K 494). Figure 268._

[Illustration: FIGURE 268]

Many volunteer companies used the designation "Rifle Guards," and this
plate with the initials "C R G" probably falls into such a category.
The "C," of course, cannot be identified. The monogram is of pewter
and has three round lugs fitted through holes in the plate proper for
attachment with pins. The plate itself has a safety pin soldered to
the reverse for attachment.


_USNM 604347-M (S-K 503). Figure 269._

[Illustration: FIGURE 269]

Although this plate bearing the profile of Gen. Winfield Scott is very
similar in design and construction to several bearing the head of
Washington and dated much earlier, it is believed to postdate the War
with Mexico when Scott's popularity was at its zenith. There were
several volunteer units called "Scott Legion" during this period. The
piece was struck, with a tin backing applied, and the edges of the
obverse were then crimped over. It is fitted with three wire staples
for attachment.


_USNM 604327-M (S-K 483). Figure 270._

[Illustration: FIGURE 270]

This is a stock pattern in cast brass. It is oval with raised edges
and has a white-metal "F" applied with simple wire fasteners. Although
the piece has the appearance of a waist-belt plate or cartridge-box
plate, the wire fasteners on the reverse indicate that it was intended
for shoulder-belt wear. In the national collections is a similar plate
with the letter "I," indicating that the letters designate companies
of larger units rather than a unit itself.


_USNM 604356-M (S-K 512). Figure 271._

[Illustration: FIGURE 271]

This rolled-brass plate with a wire-applied silvered "A" and pile of
cannon balls topped by the hand die-struck motto "ALWAYS READY" is
unidentified beyond the fact that it was worn by a member of Company A
of a Militia unit using a popular motto. Similar specimens in the
national collections have center letters "B," "D," and "E." The plate
was attached to the shoulder belt by means of two flat brass fasteners
soldered to the reverse. The fasteners are almost as wide as the plate


_USNM 60409-M (S-K 165). Figure 272._

[Illustration: FIGURE 272]

The baldric is a highly ornamented wide sash normally worn by drum
majors and sometimes by band leaders. During at least part of the
Civil War, baldrics were worn by some aides-de-camp, and the 1902
uniform regulations specified them for Signal Corps officers. This
specimen and the one that follows are the earlier of several examples
in the national collections; they fall in the early 1850's. The
shield, suspended from a lion's mouth by small chains, carries an
eagle with a shield on its breast. The stars and edge of clouds,
above, are somewhat similar to those on the 1851 regulation
waist-belt plate. The whole is superimposed on a three-quarter
sunburst. Both the lion's head and the shield are fitted with simple
wire fasteners for attachment.


_USNM 66622-M. Figure 273._

[Illustration: FIGURE 273]

The device is attached to a red, gold-edged-embroidered baldric worn
by the drum major of the 72d New York Militia during the Civil War but
believed to ante-date 1861. The brass shield, with ebony drum sticks,
is suspended from an eagle of the 1834 Regular Army pattern for wear
as a cap device. The shield, convex with beveled edges, is very
similar to waist-belt and shoulder-belt plates of about 1850.

¶ Few Militia gorgets are known, and this scarcity leads us to believe
that few were made and worn, despite the Militia's love for the "gay
and gaudy." Still, some units did adopt them, and officers of the
Portland [Maine] Rifle Corps were still wearing them in the late
1850's.[145] As a military symbol for officers, the gorget passed its
zenith in the late 18th century. Gorgets were worn during the War of
the Revolution by both American and British officers, and the British
also gave them to Indian chiefs as marks of authority. Officers in at
least one regiment of the Regular Establishment wore them as part of
their regulation dress about the turn of the 19th century, but they
were not a part of the prescribed uniform during or after the War of

[Footnote 145: In the national collections are a uniform jacket,
chapeau, and gorget once owned by Frederick Forsyth, a member of the
Portland Rifle Corps in 1857.]

GORGET, C. 1821(?)

_USNM 60311-M (S-K 67B). Figure 274._

[Illustration: FIGURE 274]

This gorget, of gilded brass, is of 2-piece construction. The
eagle-on-clouds, very similar to cockade eagles worn in 1808-1821, is
attached by four wire fasteners rather than brazed. The engraved
edging on the gorget proper is rather crudely done. Although composite
insignia did not come into general use until the mid-1830's, it seems
reasonable to assume that this particular design of the eagle device
applied to the chapeau might equally have been applied to a gorget. A
similar specimen in the national collections has a silver-on-copper
eagle instead of a brass one.

GORGET, C. 1830-1840

_USNM 60310-M (S-K 67A). Figure 275._

[Illustration: FIGURE 275]

This gorget is of 3-piece construction, the specimen proper being of
brass and the wreath and eagle of gilded brass applied with wire
fasteners. Although the eagle is of the early "on-clouds" design, the
feel of the piece is later, and this, together with the rather wide
crescent indicate that it belongs to the period of the 1830's and


_USNM 60309-M (S-K 66). Figure 276._

[Illustration: FIGURE 276]

This brass gorget, with wreath and letters in applied silver, is an
example of one of the later types worn by Militia. The letters "S F"
are interpreted as "State Fencibles," and the "Excelsior" buttons on
the ends of the crescent identify the origin of the unit as New York
State. Fencibles were basically troop units organized for home defense
only. There was a volunteer Militia company called the "State
Fencibles" in New York City as early as 1800. It apparently lost its
identity as such in 1847 or 1848 when the organization split, half
entering the 8th Regiment and half entering the 9th Regiment of New
York State Militia.[146]

[Footnote 146: Personal communication from Frederick P. Todd, July 6,
1960. Mr. Todd is the foremost authority on New York Militia units.]

U.S. Government Printing Office: 1963

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "American Military Insignia 1800-1851" ***

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