Shoulder marks are worn by 2nd Lieutenants on a wide variety of uniforms and garments, including Service Uniform shirts (AGSU and ASU), ASU Maternity shirt, the Black Unisex Cardigan, Pullover Sweaters (Black and Heritage Green), and the Leather Service Jacket, also called a Bomber Jacket.

Shoulder Marks were originally classified as Male and Female, but in 1996 the Army eliminated those categories and replaced them with the more descriptively accurate terms “Large” and “Small,” but as a very general rule Small shoulder marks tend to provide a better fit for female officers. Large shoulder marks are 4.25” in length; Small are 3.25” and do not taper as dramatically as the Large. All personnel may choose to wear Shoulder Marks of either size.

At the start of the Revolutionary War, there was no rank designated 2nd Lieutenant. Instead, it was grouped with other junior-officer ranks such as Cornet and Ensigns under a classification of “subalterns,” a term imported directly from the British Army meaning “subordinate.” In an order issued by General George Washington on July 23, 1775, these subalterns (there was actually a rank by that name within the classification) were to wear green cockades in their hats so they could be readily identified by their commanders. In 1780, Washington commanded Captains to wear uniforms in the color of their regiments with a gold epaulette on the right shoulder; subalterns would do the same, but with the gold epaulette on the left shoulder.
According to The Institute of Heraldry, the ranks of Cornet, Ensign, and Subaltern were eliminated in 1800 and replaced with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. But these ranks were still mentioned in Army regulations at least until 1821, when 2nd Lieutenant was listed as the eighth highest rank above 3rd Lieutenant, Cornet or Ensign, and Cadet. But while the Army implemented several types of insignia for 1st Lieutenants beginning in 1836, 2nd Lieutenants—the officers lowest on the commissioned totem pole—would have no insignia until December 1917.

More Army 2nd Lieutenant Rank Insignias

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