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Basics > Flags and Insignia
Heraldry of the Artillery
Throughout history, armies have used various devises to particularly identify or distinguish different classes of soldiers; this practice reached its peak in America during the 1800s. Civil War Era armies were divided into three main branched of service, and each branch wore distinctive markings so they could be easily identified on the battlefield (and also to promote esprit de corps).

The most notable indication of branch of service on civil war uniforms was piping. Whereas the base color of Union uniforms was dark blue and the base color of Confederate uniforms was gray (at least in theory), uniforms were generally trimmed in colors representing branch of service. Infantry uniforms were trimmed in light blue, cavalry uniforms were trimmed in yellow¹, and artillery uniforms were trimmed in red.

Each branch was also represented by an small brass insignia worn on the cap. The symbol of the infantry was a hunting horn, the symbol of the cavalry was crossed sabres², and the symbol of the artillery was crossed cannon-barrels. The number of the regiment and letter of the company were also worn on the hat (below and above the branch insignia, respectively).

Flags of the Artillery: Union Artillery Flags, Confederate Artillery Flags.

¹ Prior to 1861, the Regular Army of the United States had three mounted corps (other than the artillery). These were the Dragoons (whose color was orange), the Mounted Riflemen (whose color was green), and the Cavalry (whose color was yellow). The difference between these corps were quite subtle, and in 1861 they were all consolidated as Cavalry.
² The Dragoons (See fn1.) wore their crossed sabre insignia with the blades pointed downward, whereas the Cavalry wore their insignia with the blades pointed upward. The symbol of the Mounted Riflemen was a trumpet standing on end.

Rank Insignia
Company Officers'Rank Insignia

U.S. Artillery Captain

C.S. Artillery Captain

U.S. Artillery 1st Lieut.

U.S. Artillery 2nd Lieut.

C.S. Artillery 1st Lieut.

C.S. Artillery 2nd Lieut.

Union army officers' rank insignia were worn on the shoulders, whereas Confederate rank insignia were worn on the collar. In addition to the insignia shown here, Confederate officers wore decorative knots (sometimes referred to as "chicken guts") on their lower sleeves. These knots also indicated rank by their thickness.

Company Non-Commissioned Officers' Sleeve Insignia (Both Armies)

First Sergeant

Quartermaster Sergeant




¹ The crossed hammers insignia of the Artificer was similar to the crossed axes insignia used by Pioneers. The Artificer insignia was worn on the right sleeve only.
  ©2005 Richard McCoy. View Copyright Info or learn more About the Author.