Brief History of U.S Military Patches

Although originating in world war one, it wasn't until the Second World War that shoulder sleeve insignias become important for military uniforms. General John Pershing was the first to authorize limited use, but now they are much more commonplace within all branches of the military (as well as within collecting communities outside the military).

The sleeve insignia is an embroidered patch that distinguishes an individual's division, brigade, and the corps. Normally, it will be found high on a uniform sleeve (close to the shoulder), but it can also be placed on a helmet. The two options for attaching the patch are Velcro and sowing.

Prior World War 1, military uniforms were devoid of patches, except during the Civil War. Instead of creating patches, the soldiers carried their identification on the forage cap. The only markings that were on the sleeves were rank strips. During the Spanish-American war, the federal government did not issue any patches to soldiers.

When looking at military uniforms today, there is a lot more that is attached to the uniforms. Each custom made patches helps to distinguish individuals within the military. These patches have now become an important part of our military’s history.


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