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Veterans Ladder Badges

Veterans ladder badges come in various configurations not all of which look like ladders. All are private purchase pieces engraved with the veteran’s name , unit and usually a date or dates. The first of these appeared during the Civil War and were sold to soldiers who wanted some sort of unit insignia. Civil War era badges don’t carry the dates 1861-65. Badges with those dates are post war issues and strictly veterans items. Similar badges like these continued to be made and worn until the First World War and are mostly linked to the various state national guard units. What makes these so collectible is that they are so researchable. Illustrated below for example is one from Wisconsin. The top bar has “CO. D” which means the original owner was a member of Company D. The second bar from the top, “1st REG. “ tells us that Company D was part of the First Regiment. The third bar “DARLINGTON” tells us the name of Company D’s home town. On the pendent we find “WIS.” above two crossed rifles and “N.G” which tells us Co. D and the 1st regt. are part of the Wisconsin National Guard. The crossed rifles indicate that this was an infantry unit. The 1897 date is the year this badge was purchased probably by a young guardsman attending his first training camp. The guardsman’s name “W. A. Campbell” is at the bottom. Checking my old Wisconsin Blue Books I found that this unit was first organized July 8, 1884 as the Darlington Rifles and was designated Company K at the time. Campbell was not an officer so tracking down his history will be much harder if I ever get that ambitious.