What can you tell me about hat cords in the frontier military?
Richard T. Hernandez
Hat cords were yellow for cavalry, red for artillery and silver or light blue for infantry. They were mostly worn as formal wear for dances, parties and parades. They were double-looped, much like the hat cords that were used clear up into WWII, and ended with two-inch tassels.
Regulations originally called for the tassels to be worn on the side of the hat, the way cowboys wore them. Yet soldiers preferred to wear them in front, and that became the tradition.
To see some good illustrations of hat cords, check out E. Lisle Reedstrom’s Apache Wars and Historic Dress of the Old West; Gregory J.W. Urwin’s The United States Cavalry: An Illustrated History, 1776-1944; and Philip Katcher’s The American Soldier: U.S. Armies in Uniform, 1755 to Present.