The design of the collar insignia (or collar devices) for officers and enlisted personnel in the Adjutant General’s Corps is based on the design of the branch insignia. Revolving around the theme of the original 13 Colonies, it is a shield featuring 13 stars in the upper half—one large star bookended by a half-dozen smaller ones—and 13 vertical stripes, 6 red and 7 silver, in the lower half.

The insignia originally consisted of solid silver, but gold and even bronze versions were crafted up until 1924, when the decision was made to cast the insignia in gold and use enamel to make the colors red, white, and blue rather than red, white, and silver. In 1966, the design was officially changed yet again, with the insignia made of silver featuring red and silver stripes and silver stars.

Interestingly, the Adjutant General’s Corps—with a lineage that goes back to 1775—actually took as its insignia a design from the Corps of Topographical Engineers, which was only in existence from 1813 until it was absorbed into the Corps of Engineers in 1863. A dozen years later, Adjutant General Edward Townsend oversaw the approval process for adoption of the new insignia, which was modified for use in representing the Adjutant General’s Corps. Most noticeable was the removal of a laurel wreath encircling the entire shield. Also, the top part of the shield, which featured three stars, was replaced by the 13 stars described above.

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There is a bit of discrepancy, however, regarding the shield’s design when it was still employed by the Topographical Engineers. In a booklet titled “A Short History of the U.S. Army Adjutant General’s Corps, 1775 – 2013,” Staff Historian Dr. Stephen Bower of the U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute says the upper-half of the Engineers’ shield had the initials “T.E.,” not three stars. The Army’s Institute of Heraldry, on the other hand, makes no mention of such lettering—but an argument from silence is not compelling here since the Institute is similarly mum on the insignia's three stars, which can be easily verified by vintage photos.

The truth looks to be a mix of the two descriptions. In the Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms by retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel William Emerson, we learn that the engineer’s epaulettes featured a gold-embroidered shield with the letter “TE’ in an Old English font. Photos of the collar insignia, however, all reveal three stars in the upper-half of the shield.

Collar insignia for enlisted personnel feature the branch insignia in one of two gold-colored discs, with the other emblazoned with the initials “U.S.”

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