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.

Shoulder straps are worn on the uniforms of all Warrant Officers and Commissioned Officers in the grades O-1 to O-6 to indicate rank and branch of service. Rank is displayed by grade insignia placed in the interior of the strap; branch is indicated by the color of the background, which for Infantry is Light Blue (cable number 65014).

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Research the history of the Combat Infantry Badge and you’ll find hundreds of sources stating it was “designed to enhance the morale and the prestige of the ‘Queen of Battle’”—but none of them ever say which Army commander spoke those words and used that phrase to describe the Infantry branch. The words invariably appear after a reference to Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair’s recommendation that it be called the “Fighter Badge,” but they are never specifically attributed to him.

But even if Lieutenant General McNair did coin the phrase “Queen of Battle" to describe Infantry, how did he come up with it? Did he make it up himself? Or did he simply use it with the assumption that his listeners or readers would know it was a sobriquet for the oldest branch in the Army?

An explanation of the origin of the nickname can be found at the Web site of Infantry, a professional bulletin published quarterly by the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Moore (formerly known as Fort Benning) in Georgia. (Note: printing of hard copies of the magazine ended at the start of Fiscal Year 2014.) Unfortunately, it starts off with a statement—“The earliest attributed quote credits Sir William Napier (1785-1860) with saying ‘Infantry is the Queen of Battles’”—that doesn’t exactly settle the matter. Even if the statement is accurate, it merely means that someone attributed the quote to him and that person might have been incorrect.

The first reference to infantry as the “Queen of Battle” in print is from an 1892 text by Gaston Maspero, an Egyptologist and historian who, describing a 7th-century B.C. Assyrian army, wrote that the “infantry is really Queen of the Assyrian battles.” By that time, however, the term was likely already fairly popular, and Maspero might have inserted the word “really” as simply reinforcing a commonly held opinion.

Today, the phrase is almost universally viewed as a reference to the chess piece: the queen has the greatest mobility, freedom of movement, and striking power of all the pieces on the board, and a player who loses his queen has very likely lost the game.

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