Did 19th-century U.S. soldiers carry military ID cards, or their equivalent, as all military personnel do now?

James Rowley

Laingsburg, Michigan

ID cards are a creation of the 20th-century Army. During the Civil War, soldiers often pinned a piece of paper onto their uniforms, containing their names and home addresses. Some also carried their last wills, but generally they had no other identification.

At around that time, dog tags first came into use, and they were the best means of identification. The first ones were pins, usually made of brass or metal—and the soldiers themselves created the tags. The Army officially began issuing them in 1906. Ten years later soldiers were issued two identical aluminum tags. One was to stay with the body, while the other went to graves registration.

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