View Full Version : Use of MS on shoulder boards.
03-27-2008, 12:03 AM
I have seen both in photos however it does appear that more often then not Surgeons used normal staff shoulder boards for rank. Any opinions?
3RD US Regular Infantry
03-27-2008, 01:52 AM
Shoulder straps (aka pumpkin rinds) were part of the officer's uniform, and thus, like a uniform, were a private purchase. There are examples in military catalogues of straps with MS embroidered upon the strap, and said embroidery runs the gamut from cheap to well-done.
So we now know the insignia was available. What about actual usage?
You could take a survey of known photos of surgeons and see what the percentage is of plain vs MS. That would be my first instinct. I don't know if that would be accurate numbers or not. I've not done any kind of survey.
I think reenactors use the MS as a way to advertise themselves as medical, particularly if they bother to get the strap branch-of-service color correct, which is black, not green. It's the same reason for wearing an "officer's slouch" - to wear MS on the front, and the "acorns on a rope" which pass for an officers' hat cord. It screams the equivalent of a burned souflee - overdone. In other words, not enough variation.
Plain and simple is how I have done it - to the point where I had the straps removed and the bars sewn directly to the coat shoulders as "subdued insignia". This is good for about May 1863 on, and the bars are generic enough that I can pass for a staff officer or adjutant when working with the ladies of AGSAS on a scenario.
Those are my thoughts. Summary? I think wear the MS straps based on your taste.
To quote Yoda: A thought? Anyone?
03-27-2008, 02:38 AM
I have the MS on my shoulder straps (on a dark background). Based on Noah's previously stated distain, I removed the MS patch from my main slouch hat (guess I need to change my avatar). In fact, when I gave my talk last week, I just wore my captain's kepi (I removed it during the actual talk). Most events I attend, I will not wear my sword (as most of you think the repros are crap anyway), nor my sash. I will save those for ceremonial events like a cannon rededication in April. I will continue to wear my hat cord except on the previous mentioned kepi. I have seen them in period photographs on Amish type straw hats. Even counting such things on period photographs, one could only get a percentage of usage versus non-usage for those who where photographed. It still wouldn't tell one what was most common. It will only tell you what was most common in often staged photographs. We will never know what was common, everyday. The best one can hope for is photographic evidence that shows something one might wear did occur. This was not that standardized of an army. Soldiers liked to express their individuality. One person wrote, and I'm paraphrasing, that officers had their uniforms made and thus they were all these perfectly fitting, high quality garments that a serious re-enactor should have. My character is a Hoosier family doctor paid in chickens. He could ill afford fancy clothing and his uniform was issued by the Federal Government. My frock's shoulders hang past my actual shoulders. It looks frumpy, but that's what I was issued and that's what I wear. I'm proud of my branch of service and being an officer without flaunting authority, so I have MS on my boards and wear my hat cord. I know it existed, so I know it's not incorrect. That's what I choose. As long as you know it existed, wear what you want, what you like. Don't count on others to tell you what you should wear. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to listen to the voice of experience, but still go with what you feel you want to do.
And those are some of my thoughts.
03-27-2008, 02:48 AM
Thanks Noah. I think I will be going with the standard black staff rinds without the MS since most of the photos I have researched even just today counting their numbers off the library of congress website. Also I am thinking about the suppressed ranks. And like you said the staff ranks are more flexiable.
3RD US Regular Infantry
03-27-2008, 03:11 AM
The regulation background color for staff and yes medical staff is dark blue not black and definitely not green.
I have the plain (well made Osman) staff shoulder insignia. One private purchase officer's sack coat serves two purposes staff or medical.
From past pictures I have seen of medical officers the state appointed ones seem to be sans the MS in contrast to the regular army medical officer whom may or may not have the MS. Just an observation.
As with most things less is more
04-02-2008, 06:36 PM
I have a booklet on the assistant surgeon of the 10th NJ. His coat is presented in a photo. It has shoulder boards with the MS in the middle.
Andy Siganuk 12th NJVI, Co. K.
04-05-2008, 12:47 AM
Would it really matter if someone were to use the straps with "MS" in the center? I mean, there are photos with Surgeons/Assistant Surgeons wearing the straps that have the "MS" and, photos with others wearing the staff officer straps. It appears to have been a personal preference during the war. Now, some say that there is an "over-kill" with reenactors wearing the "MS". Maybe, maybe not . . I'm not one to say. It may sound odd but . . I use both. For the more formal dress, I'll wear my frock with straps that have the "MS" in the center. For field (fatigue coat), I use the plain 'ol staff officer straps. As it appeared they were during the war, I think it should be today . . your personal preference. Sorry, just my 2 cents ;).
04-05-2008, 09:49 AM
Would it really matter if someone were to use the straps with "MS" in the center? ... I think it should be today . . your personal preference. Sorry, just my 2 cents ;).
That's what I'm saying. And welcome back stranger. ;)
05-12-2008, 10:42 PM
As a maker of shoulder straps i have many photos in my collection of originals and i have seen the "MS" on the straps many times. It was wearers choice to wear the "MS" or staff straps. The green that everyone refers too was for the Berdan sharpshooters and even they were rare some other units did however wear the green straps one being the irish and two some officers in the Garibaldi guards, However i never seen green staps for medical not in my collection nor in any that i have seen
05-14-2008, 01:28 PM
It was wearers choice to wear the "MS" or staff straps.
Yes sir, you are correct.
However i never seen green staps for medical not in my collection nor in any that i have seen
And not "black", as some say. US Army regulations of 1861 state "Dark Blue Cloth" background, not black as follows:
1537. For the Major-General Commanding the Army--dark blue cloth, one and three eighths inches wide by four inches long; bordered with an embroidery of gold one-fourth of an inch wide; three silver-embroidered stars of five rays, one star on the centre of the strap, and one on each side equidistant between the center and the outer edge of the strap; the centre star to be the largest.
1538. For all other Major-Generals--the same as for the Major-General Commanding the Army, except that there will be two stars on the strap instead of three, the centre of each star to be one inch from the outer edge of the gold embroidery on the ends of the strap; both star of the same size.
1539. For a Brigadier General--the same as for the Major-General, except that instead of two, there shall be one star instead of two; the centre of the star to be equidistant from the outer edge of the embroidery on the ends of the strap .
1540. For a Colonel--the same as for a Major-General, and bordered in like manner with an embroidery of gold; a silver-embroidered spread eagle on the centre of the strap; two inches between the tips of the wings, having in its right talon an olive-branch, and in the left a bundle of arrows; an escutcheon on the breast, as represented in the arms of the United States cloth of the strap as follows: For the General Staff and Staff Corps--dark blue; for Artillery--scarlet; Infantry--light or sky blue; Cavalry--yellow.
1541. For a Lieutenant-Colonel--the same as for a Colonel, according to corps, but omitting the eagle, and introducing a silver-embroidered leaf at each end, each leaf extending seven-eighths of an inch from the end border of the strap.
1542. For a Major--the same as for a Colonel, according to corps, omitting the eagle, and introducing a gold-embroidered leaf at each end, each leaf extending seven-eighths of an inch from the end border of the strap.
1543. For a Captain--the same as for a Colonel, according to corps, and introducing at each end two gold-embroidered bars of the same width as the border, placed parallel to the ends of the strap, at a distance from the border equal to its width.
1544. For a First Lieutenant--the same as for a Colonel, according to corps, omitting the eagle, and introducing at each end one gold-embroidered bar of the same width as the border, placed parallel to the ends of the strap, at a distance from the border equal to its width.
1545. For a Second Lieutenant--the same as for a the same as for a Colonel, according to corps omitting the eagle.
1546. For a Brevet Second Lieutenant--the same as for a Second Lieutenant.
1547. For a Medical Cadet--a strip of gold lace three inches long, half an inch wide, placed in the middle of a strap of green cloth three and three-quarter inches long by one and one-quarter inches wide.
1548. The shoulder-strap will be worn whenever the epaulette is not.
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