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Civil War Corps Badges

The badge of the First corps was simply a sphere, and consequently there has been no discussion as to its proper shape, although it varied somewhat in size. The trefoil of the Second corps had the stem sometimes straight and sometimes curved. Both forms were considered correct, or sufficiently so for practical purposes.

The Fourth and Seventh Corps were serving intially in the Department of Virginia, and were discontinued as corps organizations in August, 1863. The badge of the Fourth Corps - a triangle - and of the Seventh - a star and crescent. General Steele's corps in Arkansas, formed in January, 1864, was designated the Seventh, that number having been vacated by the discontinuance of the Seventh Corps Department of Virginia. The badge adopted by a circular issued from headquarters June 1, 1865, was a orescent, encircling the upper rays ot a five-pointed star.

When the Army of the Cumberland was reorganized in October, 1803, after the battle of Chickamauga, the old Twentieth and Twenty-first Corps were broken up and a new corps was formed, whioh waa made No. 4, to take the place left vacant by the dlabandment of the Fourth Corps of the Department of Virginia. This corps, on April 26, 1864. adopted the design of an equilateral triangle.

The Eighth Corps adopted a six-pointed star, with smaller star in the center, in the latter part of 1863. The Ninth Corps, which had served afloat on the Burnside expedition, adopted in April, 1864, a shield with the figure 9 in the center, crossed with a foul anchor and cannon. The Tenth Corps, Dy general order dated July 24, 1864, in commemoration of its service against fortified positions on the sea-board, chose the trace of a four-bastioned fort.

The crescent of the Eleventh Corps became noted after Chancellorsville by having the heartless epithet " the flying moon " applied to it in remembrance of the inglorious flight of the Eleventh corps at that disastrous battle. It is only fair to say, however, that this self-same " moon " was often seen flying the other way in subsequent engagements, and no old soldier need be ashamed to wear it on his cap to-day. When the Eleventh and Twelfth corps were united to form the Twentieth, in April, 1864, the star, which had been the proud emblem of the Twelfth, became the insignia of the new organization. A combination badge of crescent and star was also worn, but had no official recognition.

The Thirteenth Corps had no badge, but the badge, as worn by the corps, consisted of a silver disc, with 13 in Roman figures and A. 0. in scrip. General Ord, then in command of the corps, was selected to adopt a design for a badge, but was removed before making a report. He had, however, designed a badge of crossed swords and crossed pipes, with the word "Choose" beneath.

The badge of the Fourteenth Army Corps was an acorn. Tradition has it that some time before the adoption of this badge the members of this corps called themselves Acorn Boys, because at one time in their history, probably when they were hemmed in at Chattanooga by Bragg, rations were so scanty that the men gladly gathered large quantities of acorns from an oak grove, near by which they were camped, and roasted and ate them, repeating this operation while the scarcity of food continued.

On the 14th of February, 1865, Major-General John A. Logan, the commander of the Fifteenth Corps, issued General Orders No. 10, which prescribe that the badge shall be "A miniature cartridge-box, one-eighth of an inch thick, fifteensixteenths of an inch wide, set transversely on a field of cloth or metal, one and five-eighths of an inch square. Above the cartridge-box plate will be stamped or worked in a curve 'Forty Rounds.'"

This device, it is stated, resulted from the following incident: The Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were transferred from the Army of the Potomac to the Army of the Cumberland. They were much better dressed than the other troops of that department, and considerable rivalry sprang up between tnese Eastern boys and those who came from the West. The Fifteenth Corps had not yet adopted any distinctive badge, and one day an Irishman, whose name la legion, belonging to one of the regiments whioh composed the Fifteenth Corps (some say Ninetieth Illinois, some Twelfth Missouri), wandered down to the river near the camp to fill his canteen. (The locality of this Incident is also a matter of question.) While drawing the water he was sainted by a soldier from the East "What corps do you belong to?" was the question propounded by the dapper Yankee. "Shure to the Fifteenth," replied the Irishman. 'Well, then, where is your badge?" "Badge, indade, and where is your own?" The soldier pointed to the crescent on his cap. "Ah yes," said the Fifteenth Corps man, "that's the moon that lighted yer way when ye retrated from Chancellorsville; out as for my own badge, here it is," clapping his hand upon his cartridge-box, "Here's my badge - forty rounds, and where can you get a betther one?! It's the orders to always hare forty rounds in my cartridge-box, and we always do." This incident, it is reported, was related to Oeneral Logan, and he immediately issued the order making the cartridge-box and its motto the badge of the gallant Fifteenth Corps.

The following correct description of the badge worn by the Sixteenth Army Corps is given by the assistant-inspector general of that corps, Colonel J. J. Lyon : - " The device is a circle with four Minie-balls, the points towards the centre, cut out of it.'' It was designed by Brevet Brigadier-General John Hough, the assistant adjutant-general of the corps, being selected out of many designs, submitted by MajorGeneral A. J. Smith, the corps commander, and, in his honor, named the "A. J. Smith Cross." It is easily distinguished from the Maltese cross, in being bounded by curved instead of straight lines.

The badge of the Seventeenth Corps, said to have been suggested by General M. F. Ford, and adopted in accordance with General Orders issued by his commander, Major General Francis P. Blair, was an arrow. He says, "In its swiftness, in its surety of striking where wanted, and its destructive powers, when so intended, it is probably as emblematical of this corps as any design that could be adopted."

The Eighteenth corps had a fancy cross for a badge, and it was worn by the enlisted men, at first, on the left breast, the emblem being of cloth, and sewed on. The system for officers was much complicated. A circular issued from the headquarters of the Eighteenth Army Corps June 7, 1864, and General Orders No. 108, from the same source, dated August 25, 1864, furnish all the information on record regarding the badge of this body. While both are quite lengthy in description and prescription, neither states what the special design was to be. It was, however, a cross with equifoliate arms. The circular prescribed that this cross should be worn by general officers, suspended by a tri-colored ribbon from the left breast. Division commanders were to have a triangle in the centre of the badge, but brigade commanders were to have the number of their brigade instead; line officers were to suspend their badges by ribbons of the color of their division; cavalry and artillery officers also were to have distinctive badges. The whole system was quite complex, and somewhat expensive as well, as the badges were to be of metal and enamel in colors. Enlisted men were to wear the plain cross of cloth, sewed to their left breast.

By General Orders No. 11 issued by General Emory Nov. 17, 1864, the Nineteenth Corps adopted "a fan-leaved cross, with an octagonal centre." The First Division was to wear red, the Second blue, and the Third white - the exception in the order of the colors which proved the rule. The badge of enlisted men was to be of cloth, two inches square, and worn on the side of the hat or top of the cap, although they were allowed to supply themselves with metallic badges of the prescribed color, if so minded.

The Twenty-First Corps never adopted a badge. The Twenty-Second adopted (without orders) a badge quinquefarious in form, that is, opening into five parts, and having a circle in the center. This was the corps which served in the defence of Washington. Its membership was constantly changing. The badge adopted by the Twenty-Third Corps (without General Orders) was a plain shield, differing somewhat in form from that of the Ninth Corps, with which it was for a time associated, and which led it to adopt a similar badge.

The following General Order tells the story of the next Corps' badge : Headquarters Twenty-fourth Army Corps, Before Richmond, Va., March 18, 1865. [General Orders No. 32.] By authority of the Major-General commanding the Army of the James, the Heart is adopted as the badge of the Twenty-B'ourth Army Corps. The symbol selected is one which testifies our affectionate regard for all our brave comrades - alike the living and the dead - who have braved the perils of the mighty conflict, and our devotion to the sacred cause - a cause which entitles us to the sympathy of every brave and true heart and the support of every strong and determined hand.

Here is another General Order which speaks for itself: - Headquarters Twenty-fifth Army Corps, Army or The James, In The Field, Va., Feb. 20, 1865. [Orders.] In view of the circumstances under which this Corps was raised and filled, the peculiar claims of its individual members upon the justice and fair dealing of the prejudiced, and the regularity of the troops which deserve those equal rights that have been hitherto denied the majority, the Commanding General has been induced to adopt the Square as the distinctive badge of the Twenty-Fifth Army Corps. Wherever danger has been found and glory to be won, the heroes who have fought for immortality have been distinguished by some emblem to which every victory added a new lustre. This corps was composed wholly of colored troops. In the late fall of 1864, Major-General W. S. Hancock resigned his command of the Second Corps to take charge of the First Veteran Corps, then organizing. The badge adopted originated with Colonel C. H. Morgan, Hancock's chief-of-staff. The center is a circle half the diameter of the whole design, surrounded by a wreath of laurel. Through the circle a wide red band passes vertically. From the wreath radiate rays in' such a manner as to form a heptagon with concave sides. Seven hands spring from the wreath, each grasping a spear, whose heads point the several angles of the heptagon.

Sheridan's Cavalry Corps had a badge, but it was not generally worn. The device was "Gold crossed sabres on a blue field, surrounded by a glory in silver." The design of Wilson's Cavalry Corps was a carbine from which was suspended by chains a red, swallow-tail guidon, bearing gilt crossed sabres.

The badge of the Engineer and Pontonier Corps is thus described: " Two oars crossed over an anchor, the top of which is encircled by a scroll surmounted by a castle; the castle being the badge of the U. S. corps of engineers." As a fact, however, this fine body of men wore only the castle designed in brass. The pioneers of the army wore a pair of crossed hatchets, the color of the division to which they belonged.

The badge of the Signal Corps was two flags crossed on the staff of a flaming torch,. This badge is sometimes represented with a red star in the centre of one flag, but such was not the typical badge. This star was allowed on the headquarters flag of a very few signal officers, who were accorded this distinction for some meritorious service performed ; but such a flag was rarely seen, and should not be figured as part of the corps badge.

The Department of West Virginia, under the command of General Crook, adopted a spread eagle for a badge, Jan. 3, 1865. Then, the Army of the Cumberland have a society badge. So likewise have the Army of the Potomac. The badge of the Department of the Cumberland consisted of the union of the three corps badges, which composed it. The star of the Twentieth was the base, the triangle of the Fourth, reduced in size, was laid upon it, and this was surmounted by the acorn of the Fourteenth Corps.

There are also medals presented for distinguished gallantry, worn by a few. They are not numerous and are seldom to be seen - for this reason, if for no other, they are of precious value to the owner, and are therefore carefully treasured.

And there was no army which became so devotedly attached to its badges as did the Army of the Potomac. There were reasons for this. They were the first to adopt them, being at least a year ahead of all other corps, and more than two years ahead of many. Then, by their use they were brought into sharper comparison in action and on the march, and, as General Weitzel says, " they looked upon their badge with pride, for to it they had given its fame."

These badges could be seen in any parade of the Grand Army, worn on the cap or hat. But at the close of the war many of the veterans desired some more enduring form of these emblems, so familiar and full of meaning to them, and so they wore pinned to the breast or suspended from a ribbon the dear old corps badge, modelled in silver or gold, perhaps bearing the division colors indicated, in enamel or stone, and some of them inscribed with the list of battles in which the bearer participated.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:35:16 ZULU