Majors (O-4) in the United States Army wear shoulder marks (also called epaulets or epaulettes) on an array of garments that includes the long- and short-sleeved Service uniform shirts, the Maternity shirt, the black unisex Cardigan, and the black unisex pullover sweater. Shoulder marks slide over the shoulder loops (which the Army refers to as “epaulets” on the sweaters) found on these uniform components and fit properly when the hook-and-loop pads or buttons on the loops are completely exposed.

Because of manufacturers’ variations in the production of shoulder loops on these garments, we offer Major shoulder marks in a Large and a Small size. The Large size is an inch longer (4.25”) than the Small size and tapers more dramatically from the base (the end with the insignia) to the top (end closest to the collar).

We also offer an option for insignia made with bullion on the Large size shoulder marks. Insignias manufactured with bullion have a more defined and professional appearance than those that are embroidered with fabric.

During the Revolutionary War, the original “rank insignia” for Brigadiers General and Majors in the Continental Army was a “Pink Ribband” [sic] worn across the breast; field officers (which includes Majors) wore red or pink cockades in their hats. Army regulations issued in 1821 specified that all field officers—Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, and Majors—of “engineers, artillery, and rifle” would share the same indicator of rank, i.e., two gold epaulettes.

Since 1835, a “leaf” (defined as oak later) was introduced for as an insignia to be displayed on the shoulder straps of the frock coat—and with it came some confusion because a leaf was also used for the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The difference was that a Lieutenant Colonel’s leaf was colored the same as the strap’s branch-colored border (silver for infantry, gold for all others), while the Major’s leaf was the opposite color of the strap’s border. The bottom line is that, depending on the branch in which they served, Majors and Lieutenant Colonels could both be wearing the same-colored oak leaf insignia, albeit on differently colored straps.

More Army Major Insignias
In 1851, the regulations changed so that the Lieutenant Colonel’s leaf was silver regardless of the color of the border on the strap and, similarly, the Major’s leaf was always gold—this in spite of the fact that gold was generally regarded as the superior of the two metals. The gold oak leaf has been the rank insignia for Army Majors since that time, and the precedent that was set by using gold to represent a lower-ranking officer was the basis for making the Second Lieutenant rank insignia a gold bar despite the fact it is the lowest commissioned rank in the Army, below the ranks of First Lieutenant and Captain represented by silver bars.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.