• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

Military Epaulet (Shoulder Scale)

brass shoulder scale approximately 8 inches in length
Military Epaulet
c. 1854-1871
length: approx. 8"

Military Epaulet
c. 1854-1871

This brass epaulet, or shoulder scale, was found near the quartermaster's storehouse of the second Fort Smith. An epaulet like this one was worn on each shoulder to designate the rank for artillery, cavalry, or infantry. This particular epaulet would have been worn by a sergeant some time between 1854 and 1872. Scales could be worn on the field or dress uniform until 1862 when they were only allowed for dress occasions, such as parade duty. Scales for enlisted men were finally abolished altogether in 1872. Military insignia are valuable for the identification of what authority, branch, company, and job in military life a soldier held.

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Did You Know?

foundation remains of first fort overlooking Arkansas River

The U.S. Army selected a spot overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers for the site of a fort. Soldiers from the Rifle Regiment arrived in 1817 and named the site Fort Smith after their commanding officer, Thomas A. Smith.