U.S. ARMY SIGNAL CORPS CAP / SLEEVE BRAID

Ornamental braid is employed on various components of different Army dress uniforms worn by members of the Signal Corps. The service cap worn by Field Grade and Company Grade Signal Corps officers, for example, features a gold-bordered braid serving as a hatband manufactured in the branch colors of Orange and White, while the sleeves of the Army Service Uniform and the Blue Mess Dress worn by officers below the grade of O-7 feature orange braids. (The lapels on the Blue Mess Dress jackets for Signal Corps officers are made of rayon, acetate, or other synthetic fabric with an Orange satin face, and the lining of the optional Blue Cape is also Orange.)

It took a dozen years from the time that Congress authorized the position of Signal Officer and nine years after it authorized the establishment of the Signal Corps as a basic branch before the Corps was assigned the branch color of Orange in 1872. According to The Institute of Heraldry, the secondary branch color of White was added in 1902 because of a custom that non-line branches must have a secondary color for piping.

But several sources indicate that for, for some reason, the Signal Corps switched from Orange to Black as its branch color during the eleven years preceding the addition of white as a branch color. In The Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms, retired  Lieutenant Colonel William K. Emerson writes that personnel in the Signal Corps wore black “hat cords” on the front of the campaign that between 1899 and 1902. Medal of Honor Recipient Oscar F. Long, writing while serving as Assistant Quartermaster in the mid- to late-1990s, states in 1891 the “trimmings, facings, plume, etc. of the Signal Corps were changed from orange to black.”
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