According to The Institute of Heraldry, scarlet has served as the color of the Artillery branch throughout its entire existence, save for a brief interlude at the start of the 19th century when it was combined with yellow.

One of the first mentions of the use of scarlet as the Artillerists’ color is found in a General Order issued by George Washington on October 2, 1779. Authorized by a Congressional resolution to specify the “color and facings as the cut or fashion of the clothes to be worn by the troops of the respective States and regiments.” Washington specified that Artillery and artillery artificers would wear blue jackets (blue was the color for all uniform jackets) with scarlet facing and lining.

Branch colors were introduced to the United States Army in the uniform regulation of 1851, solidifying scarlet as the Artillery color. At the start of the 20th century, the Artillery branch was divided into Field Artillery and Coast Artillery. While the latter was given Scarlet as its branch color, this was about the only area in which it was on equal footing with its sister branch, as it suffered from underfunding and a constant lack of adequate planning for almost its entire existence; it was disestablished in 1950.

Scarlet is also used as the branch color for Air Defense Artillery, which was formed as a result of the National Defense Act of 1920’s assignation of the nation's air-defense mission to the Coast Artillery. When the Coast Artillery Corps was disbanded in 1950, its air-defense duties were assumed by the Army Anti-Aircraft Command (ARAACOM) under the Artillery branch. In 1957, ARAACOM was renamed Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM) and eight years later it was named a distinct branch, and the Artillery Branch reverted to its old designation of Field Artillery.

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