Heather Sheen writes:
During the American Revolution, General George Washington used cockades for a time as an
inexpensive way to denominate rank. On July 23, 1775 he stated:
As the Continental Army has unfortunately no uniforms, and consequently many inconveniences must arise from not being able to distinguish the commissioned officers from the privates, it is desired that some badge of distinction be immediately provided; for instance that the field officers may have red or pink colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff, and the subalterns green.
For more fascinating looks at history through decorative designs, click on over to Creative Cockades.