Important: Be aware that cancellation requests for bullion shoulder straps must be made within 24 hours of placing an order because of the substantial time investment required for the custom hand embroidery process.

The Army’s artillery branch, represented by the scarlet color on the shoulder straps of its officers and warrant officer, can rightfully lay claim to being not only of the service’s oldest branches, but also one of its most influential.

Following a defeat at the Battle of Long Island that resulted in the British occupation of New York City in August 1776 , the spirit of the Continental Army troops being led by General George Washington was nearing irreversible lows. But Washington devised a surprise attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton to be launched in the early morning hours of Christmas Day, 1776, and the subsequent victory inspired Continental Army veterans to reenlist and served as a catalyst for new recruits to join the fight.

What many do not realize about one of Washington’s signal victories, however, is the critical role played by the American artillerists under the command of Colonel Henry Knox. Although the Hessians were startled when the assault began, they were veteran troops and soon began to form up to present a proper defense at various points in the town—but whenever they did so, Knox’s artillery was already in position to disabuse them of any such notions of seizing the initiative in the battle or even making a respectable stand.

After the pitched fighting at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, the Continental Army’s artillerists received a compliment from an unusual source, revealed in Washington’s General Orders of 29 June 1779. “It is with peculiar Pleasure….” Washington wrote, “that the Commander in Chief can inform General Knox and the Officers of Artillery that the Enemy have done them the Justice to acknowledge that no Artillery could be better served than ours.”

But the Artillery branch’s greatest achievement during the American Revolution, however, was at the siege of Yorktown, where an eight-day barrage conducted by Knox and Brigadier General Louis Duportail led to the British surrender on October 17, 1783.

Today, soldiers serving in the Field Artillery or Air Defense Artillery branches can look back with immense pride on the patriotism and devotion to duty their forebears displayed during the turbulent days of this country’s founding and know they are bound to that heritage by a scarlet thread.

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