The Early Revolutionary War Era - 1775

In 1775, there were not enough uniforms in the Continental Army to distinguish the officers from their men. The Continental Congress tried to standardize a uniform of brown, but without any authority to raise money this was easier said than done. Officers wore remnants of old military dress; with no thought given to similarity of color. The enlisted men wore their work or hunting clothes. Many had no coat or shoes and wore handkerchiefs for hats. When Gen. George Washington took command of the Army at Cambridge he was obliged to develop badges in order that rank would be indicated at sight.

One of his first orders issued read, "As the Continental Army has unfortunately no uniforms, and consequently many inconveniences must arise from not being able to distinguish the commissioned officers from the privates, it is desired that some badges of distinction may be immediately provided; for instance --

...that the corporals may be distinguished by an epaulette or stripe of green cloth sewed upon the right shoulder, the sergeants by one of red. The subalterns may have green colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff..."

"...that the field officer may have red or pink colored cockades in their hats...the aides-de-camp and brigade-majors by a green ribband worn across the heart between the coat and waistcoat..."

"...the brigadier and major general by a pink ribband worn in like manner. The major generals' sleeves be distinguished by a broad purple ribband. The commander-in-chief by a light blue ribband across his heart..."

Click for Uniforms of the Continental Navy and Marine Corps



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