Union Army Uniforms And Insignia of the Civil War

Grade (Rank) Insignia

Circlet for Enlisted Overcoat When Worn By An Officer

Circlet Circlet
Captain from the Schuyler,
Hartley and Graham Catalog
Lieutenant in Metal
without branch color

The regulation overcoat for officers was a dark blue while that for the enlisted men was light blue. This was no problem for the peacetime army, but in wartime it made targets of the officers. In 1861 officers were permitted to acquire mounted enlisted men's overcoats, but as our photograph of the 35th Massachusetts officer shows it is not possible to know the officer's exact grade. Shoulder straps were not worn on overcoats and adding sleeve braid would be difficult in the field. Circlets appear in the Schuyler, Hartley and Graham catalog and were worn by some officers to indicate their grade. Another example of an original can be seen in Don Troiani's Soldiers in America. These were made either in metal or embroidery and are similar to the circlets appearing on epaulettes but have grade insignia not regimental numbers. A second lieutenant would have a plain circlet with the background of his branch color. The brass example above has a pin back, but the field lacks an enameled branch color that can be seen on Troiani's example.

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