The Cavalry Stetson hat with non-commissioned officer (yellow) cord
A spur holder with the 4th Cavalry Regiment instructs candidates on the assembly of an M2 machine gun after their first try during the "2006 Spur Ride"

The Cavalry Stetson is a cavalry traditional headgear within the United States Army, typical worn by cavalrymen in the late 1860s, named after its creator John B. Stetson.

In the modern U.S. Army, the Stetson was revived as an unofficial headgear for the sake of esprit de corps in the cavalry. Because they are not authorized by AR 670–1, the regulation for wear and appearance of the uniform, wear and use of the Stetson and associated spurs is regulated by a unit commander. What follows is one example of a cavalry squadron's policy on the wear of Stetsons:[1][2]

LTC Bruce P. Crandall (Ret.) wearing Stetson with gold and black cord during his Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House, 2008

Stetson: The Stetson will be black in color. Rank and regimental or ordinary cavalry brass will adorn the Stetson. The braid will be worn around the base of the Stetson. Troopers will wear the appropriate braid color. Braid ends or acorns will be to the front of the Stetson and no more than an acorn length over the brim. Crossed sabers will be placed on the front of the Stetson. Organizational sabers are authorized if assigned or affiliated to the regiment. Rank will be worn 1/8" from the bottom of the sabers, centered.

a. General Officers: Solid Gold
b. Field Grade and Company Grade Officers: Gold and Black
c. Warrant Officer:
1: CW4,CW5 - Solid Silver
2: WO1,CW2,CW3 - Silver and Black
d. Non-Commissioned Officer: Yellow

1: The nape strap will be threaded through the appropriate eyelets in the brim of the Stetson so that strap goes around the back and the buckle is fastened and centered on the wearers head.
2: The sides of the crown shall not be pushed in or otherwise modified. The brim will be flat with a slight droop at the front.
3: The Stetson will be worn on the head with the brim parallel to the ground.

4: Occasions for wearing the Stetson: Squadron dining-ins/outs, formal events in dress blues, gatherings of spur holders, professional gatherings such as AAAA and any other event or function as designated by Saber 6.

A U.S. Army NCO and officer wearing Cavalry Stetsons at a Dining in ceremony, both affixing cavalry branch and rank insignias on their Stetsons with the NCO wearing a yellow cord and the officer a light blue (infantry) cord with yellow tips

Colored cords worn on the Stetson have evolved and expanded since their introduction in 1851. Below is a list of known cord colors and what they signified from 1851 through 1943:[3]

Branch Primary Color Secondary Color Established
Adjutant General Dark Blue Scarlet 1936
Air Corps Ultramarine Golden Orange 1920
Armored Green White 1942
Cavalry Yellow 1855
Chaplains Black
Chemical Warfare Cobalt Blue Golden Yellow 1918
Coast Artillery Scarlet 1902
Detached Enlisted Men Green
Field Artillery Scarlet 1851
Finance Silver Gray Golden Yellow 1921
Infantry Light Blue 1851
Inspector General Dark Blue Light Blue 1936
Judge Advocate General Dark Blue White 1936
Medical Department Maroon White 1916
Military Intelligence Golden Yellow Purple 1936
Military Police Yellow Green 1922
National Guard Bureau Dark Blue 1921
Ordnance Crimson Yellow 1921
Permanent Professor (USMA) Scarlet Silver Gray 1936
Quartermaster Buff 1902
Signal Orange White 1902
Specialists' Reserve Brown Golden Yellow 1936
Tank Destroyer Golden Orange Black 1943
Transportation Brick Red Golden Yellow 1942
Warrant Officers Brown 1936
Women's Army Corps Old Gold Moss Green 1942
Three of the five photographs accompanying the announcement on

On April Fools' Day, 2011, the U.S. Army released a humorous statement that the official black beret of the Army would be replaced by stetsons. Below is an excerpt from the full announcement:[4]

WASHINGTON, APRIL 1, 2011 -- In a fingertip-to-the-brim nod to its American frontier history, the Army is changing hats again - returning to the tumultuous days of the horse Cavalry in the wild west and adopting a dark blue Stetson as the official headgear for the current force of 1.1 million Soldiers. "We figure the Stetson will be popular with the troops," said Sgt. Maj. Bob S. Stone, Army Uniform Board headgear task force president. "It's been a while since we have changed the headgear, so it's time. Plus a Stetson is functional and down right American." But reminiscent of the controversial switch from the garrison cap to the black beret, the Army faces opposition from one community deeply opposed to losing its special identity with the Stetson - the Armor branch. "Why in the heck are they doing to us what they did to the snake-eaters'" asked one officer familiar with the board's deliberations. "If you ain't Cav, you ain't ought to be wearing a Cav hat. That just ain't right." [...] The Army's official adoption date of the Stetson will be April Fool's Day, 2012.

The statement was supplemented by pictures of soldiers with Cavalry Hats photoshopped over their berets, including a military working dog toting a stetson.

See also


  1. ^ "Army Regulation 670–1, Uniform and Insignia Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia", Department of the Army, dated 26 January 2021, last accessed 6 August 2022
  2. ^ "WEAR OF THE CAVALRY ACCOUTERMENTS",, last updated 1 June 1997, last accessed 4 August 2022
  3. ^ "Army Branch of Service Colors, Second World War"; "American Military Patches, Other Insignia and Decorations of World War Two;" by Dr. Howard G. Lanham; dated 2001; courtesy of; last accessed 4 August 2022
  4. ^ "Stetson hat to be new Army standard headgear",, by Army News Release, dated 1 April 2011, last accessed 6 August 2022