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Identification Tag
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Identification Tag

Date: 1861
Catalog #: R-14    Accession #: 1980.0399
Credit: Armed Forces History Division, National Museum of American History

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 1" H x 1" W x 0.17" D

Physical Description

Gold medal with an eagle and shield below the words "WAR OF 1861" on the obverse. The reverse is stamped with the soldier's name, unit, and hometown.

General History

Because there was no issue of identification tags during the Civil War, many soldiers devised their own means to ensure that they would be identified if killed in battle. Slips of paper or cloth with the soldier's name were pinned inside clothing; other times personal belongings were marked. Two types of manufactured identification were available for purchase; one was a pin of gold or silver, marketed by Harper's Weekly Magazine, which was inscribed with the individual's name and unit. The other, pictured here, was a medallion made of lead or brass with a hole at the top so that it might be worn around the neck. Medallions could usually be purchased from sutlers that followed the armies and sold "luxury" goods to the soldiers.


Country: United States
War: Civil War
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