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Spanish American War Corps Badges

By Patrick McSherry

Paul Duessler of the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

Paul J. Duessler, Private, 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  Pvt. Duessler entered the service on July 14, 1898 and
served until February 28, 1899, being discharged at Camp Shipp, Alabama. On his uniform he wears the four-leaf clover (at right)
of the Second Corps, the three-tooth clutch of the Third Army Corps and two four-pointed caltrops of the Fourth Army Corps.
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During the Spanish American War, as during the Civil War a generation before, the U.S. Army was subdivided into Army Corps. Any large movement of the army was usually done "by Corps." For instance, the force sent to Cuba was the Fifth Corps. The force sent to the Philippines was designated as the Eight Corps. All regiments in the federal service were either placed into an army corps or into a military department, such as the Department of the Gulf, etc.

The army originally considered reusing the same corps badges as were used during the Civil War. However, after an outcry from Civil War veterans who considered those designs to be unique, a new set of corps badges was created. General Miles, via General Orders #99, in July 15, 1898, issued orders describing the various badges. The badges show up in photos, publications, and uniforms of the time period, but often they are not recognized. Since these badges can be critical in helping to identify the men and equipment from the war, we are including a table, below, with images of each of the corps badges.

The color of the corps badge had additional meaning. An army corps was subdivided into three "divisions." The color of the badge was used to designate a division - the first division was designated as red, the second division was designated as white, and the third division designated as blue. A badge meant to symbolize the entire corps had all three colors.

The Corps Badges:

Below are the corps badges. As indicated, a single color indicates a specific division within the corps, whereas all three colors - red, white and blue - indicates the entire corps. Under each image is the description from the general orders creating the insignia. As will be noted, we do not have pictorial examples of all of the corps badges (and they may not have been produced for all of the corps since only the 1st through 8th Corps actually existed in the field, in addition to the Cavalry, Artillery and Medical Corps, and the Corps of Engineers). We want to replace all of the drawings with photos. If you have one of the corps badges not presently shown in picture form, please consider submitting an image of it for inclusion by clicking here. Where we have specific data on the provenance of the badges, the data is below the table.

Corp badge of the 1st Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 2nd Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 3rd Corps, 1898
1st Corps
(1st Division)
"a circle over a letter I of special design"
2nd Corps
"a four-leaf clover"
3rd Corps
(1st Division)
"a three-tooth clutch"
Corps badge of the 4th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 5th Corps, 1898.
Corps badge of the 6th Corps, 1898
4th Corps 
(2nd Division)
"a caltrop"
5th Corps
(1st Division)
"a fire-bastion hook"
6th Corps
(1st Division)
"a six-tooth sprocket"
Corps badge of the 7th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 8th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 9th Corps, 1898
7th Corps
"a seven-pointed star"
8th Corps
"two circles overlapping each other, resembling a figure 8"
9th Corps
"a buzz saw with nine teeth"
Corps badge of the 10th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 11th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 12th Corps, 1898
10th Corps
"two triangles, point to point, resembling the letter X"
11th Corps
"the badge of the 10th Corps, with a horizontal bar through the centre, representing XI"
12th Corps
"a square with a clover leaf at each corner, thereby showing twelve small circles"
Corps badge of the 13th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 14th Corps, 1898
  No Image
13th Corps
"a plam leaf with thirteen spikes"
14th Corps
"a square with one half circle on each side"
15th Corps
"an anchor"
Corps badge of the 16th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 17th Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the 18th Corps, 1898
16th Corps
"a bugle"
17th Corps
"a spearhead"
18th Corps
"a battle-ax"
Corps badge of the 19th Corps, 1898
No Image
No Image 
19th Corps
"an arch"
20th Corps
"a broom"
 Corps of Engineers
(not addressed in General Orders)
Corps badge of the Cavalry Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the Artillery Corps, 1898
Corps badge of the Medical Corps, 1898
Cavalry Corps
(3rd Division)
"A winged horse foot"
 Artillery Corps
(1st Division)
"Crossed conical projectiles, with a round shot above centre"
Medical Corps
(not addressed in General Orders)

Notes on the Corps Badges above:

The badges of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Corps belonged to Arnold Mueller of the 4th Wisconsin Volunter Infantry, Co. D.


Bock, Judy - Image and Information on P. Duessler.

Boser, Kenneth - Image of 8th Corps badge

Jacobsen Jr., Jacques Noel  - Images of the 1st,  5th, 6th Corps and artillery corps badges, and copy of orders.

Roman, Cynthia Ann (Mueller) - Images of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Corps badges belonging to Arnold Mueller.

"Symbols for the Army," New Oxford Item. (New Oxford, Pennsylvania) September 9, 1898, 3

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