1775. A general order was issued from Headquarters at Cambridge that ''Sergeants may be distinguished by an Epaulette or stripe of red cloth, sewed upon the right shoulder; the Corporals by one of green.'' The organizational charts indicated the enlisted personnel consisted mainly of sergeants, corporals, musicians, and privates.
1776. By early 1776 an approximately standard Continental Infantry Regiment had emerged consisting of a headquarters and eight companies, each company with four sergeants, four corporals, two drummers or fifers and 76 privates. According to the Journals of the Continental Congress, later in that year all battalions were given a non-commissioned headquarters element consisting of a sergeant-major, a quartermaster sergeant, a drum major and a fife major, all to be appointed by the regimental commander. This is the first mention of the rank of sergeant-major.
1792. During this year the military service was expanded to include sergeants-major, quartermaster sergeants, senior musicians, sergeants, corporals, farriers, artificers, saddlers, musicians, trumpeters, dragoons and privates.
1796. Senior musicians disappeared, but principal musicians apparently took their place; farriers and saddlers titles were united; sappers and miners appeared; and trumpeters disappeared.
1799. Principal musicians were succeeded by chief musicians; sappers and miners disappeared; and the titles artificers, saddlers and blacksmiths were combined.
1800. Principal musicians again appeared while chief musician disappeared and the designations of farriers and saddlers, sappers and miners, and a separate title of artificers, were authorized.
1802. Enlisted men were designated sergeants-major, teachers of music, sergeants, corporals, musicians, artificers and privates.
1808. Sergeant-majors, quartermaster sergeants, principal musicians, sergeants, corporals, musicians, artificers, saddlers, farriers and privates were the titles of enlisted personnel.
1812. Blacksmiths and drivers of artillery were added to enlisted grade titles.
1815. Designations of enlisted personnel were again simplified to sergeant-major, quartermaster sergeants, principal musicians, sergeants, corporals, musicians, artificers and privates.
1832. During this year the designation ''enlisted men for ordnance'' appeared.
1833. The designations of chief bugler, bugler, farrier and blacksmith were additional titles during the year.
1838. The title ''enlisted men for ordnance'' was changed to ''enlisted men of ordnance''.
1847. The title of principal or chief musician, principal teamster and teamster were added to the list.
1855. The title of ordnance sergeants came into being.
1861. During the Civil War, many new designations came into being. The following is a complete list of designations: sergeant majors; quartermaster sergeants; commissary sergeants; leaders of bands; principal or chief musicians; chief buglers; medical cadets; ordnance sergeants; hospital stewards; regimental hospital stewards; battalion sergeant majors; battalion quartermaster sergeants; battalion hospital stewards; battalion saddler sergeants; battalion commissary sergeants; battalion veterinary sergeants; first sergeants; company quartermaster sergeants; sergeants; corporals; buglers; musicians; farriers and blacksmiths; artificers; saddlers; master wagoners; wagoners; privates; enlisted men of ordnance.
1866. The following titles disappeared: leaders of bands; battalion hospital stewards; chief buglers; medical cadets; battalion commissary sergeants; battalion saddler sergeants, battalion veterinary sergeants; buglers; and enlisted men of ordnance. The following new titles were established: saddler sergeants; trumpeters, chief trumpeters; privates (first class); and privates (second class).
1869. The title chief musician again appeared and a first sergeant in the corps of engineers was established.
1889. Post quartermaster sergeants, private hospital corps, general service clerks and general service messengers were established.
1899. Electrician sergeants, sergeants first class, drum majors, stable sergeants, mechanics and cooks were established.
1901. The title post commissary sergeant, regimental commissary sergeant, and color sergeant were established.
1905-1919. The designs and titles varied by branch and there were 45 different insignia descriptions in specification 760, dated 31 May 1905, with different colors for different branches. General Order No. 169 dated 14 August 1907 created a wide variety of insignia. Specific pay grades were not yet in use by the Army and their pay rate was based on title. The pay scale approved in 1908 ranged from $13 for a private in the engineers to $75 for a Master Signal Electrician. The system identified the job assignment of the individual, e.g., cooks, mechanics, etc. By the end of World War I, there were 128 different insignia designs in the supply system.
1919. Prior to 1919, the insignia of private first class consisted of the insignia of the branch of service without any arcs or chevrons. The Secretary of War approved ''an arc of one bar'' for privates first class on 22 July 1919.
1920. The number of insignia was reduced to seven and six pay grades were established. War Department Circular No. 303, dated 5 August 1920, stated the chevrons would be worn on the left sleeve, point up, and to be made of olive drab material on a background of dark blue. The designs and titles were as follows:
Master Sergeant (First Grade)
Three chevrons, and an arc of three bars, the upper bar of arc forming a tie to the lower chevron.
Technical Sergeant (Second Grade)
Three chevrons, and an arc of two bars, the upper bar of arc forming a tie to the lower chevron.
First Sergeant (Second Grade)
Three chevrons, and an arc of two bars, the upper bar of arc forming a tie to the lower chevron. In the angle between lower chevron and upper bar a lozenge.
Staff Sergeant (Third Grade)
Three chevrons and an arc of one bar, forming a tie to the lower chevron.
Sergeant (Fourth Grade)
Corporal (Fifth Grade)
Privates First Class (Sixth Grade)
1942. The grades of Technician in the third, fourth and fifth grades were added by War Department Circular No. 5, dated 8 January 1942. Change 1 to AR 600-35, dated 4 September 1942, added a letter ''T'' to the formerly prescribed chevrons for grades three, four and five.
The first sergeant was moved from the second grade to the first grade per Change 3, AR 600-35, dated 22 September 1942. This change described the first sergeantís chevron as - - Three chevrons and arc of three bars, the upper bar of arc forming a tie to the lower chevron. In the angel between lower chevrons and upper bar, a hollow lozenge. This change also included the material as khaki chevrons, arcs, T, and lozenge on dark blue cotton background or olive-drab wool chevrons, arcs, T, and lozenge on dark blue wool backgrounds.