Rest Your Epaulette On My Shoulder
Epaulette, sounds like a French chanteuse, but in fact they are elegant objects of military regalia that began in the French army to indicate rank. They were derived from the shoulder pteruges of ancient Roman military costumes. Epaulettes were made in silver or gold for officers, and in cloth of various colors for the enlisted men of various arms.
By the early eighteenth century, epaulettes became the distinguishing feature of an officer, leading to officers of military units without epaulettes to petition their government for the right to wear epaulettes, to ensure that they would be recognized as officers.
There is considerable epaulette lore:
In Europe, some light infantry wore cloth counter-epaulettes. “Flying artillery” wore “wings”, similar to an epaulette but with only a bit of fringe on the outside, which matched the shoulder seam. Heavy artillery wore small balls representing ammunition on their shoulders.
Sadly, epaulettes have mostly been replaced these days by a flap of cloth called a shoulder strap, sewn into the shoulder seam and the end buttoned like an epaulette.