One of the major problems when re-enacting in the field is that everyone’s clothing and equipment looks very similar. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, or while breaking down a display, it is very easy to accidentally collect another member’s Jacket, or pick up the wrong Cartridge Belt, mistaking it for yours. Something that you learn very early on is to mark your items so that they can be easily identified as belonging to you. There are various ways in which this can be done, but the US Army actually produced an Information Circular containing the prescribed locations for marking individual clothing and equipment.
Generally, items were marked with a soldier’s laundry number. Laundry numbers were special identification codes that were introduced by the US Army in order to allow service personnel to quickly identify their individual equipment. The laundry number consisted of the soldier’s last initial, followed by the final 4 digits of his Army Serial Number. These numbers were then applied to personal equipment so that they could be easily identified when stored with others’ items. While laundry numbers are not unique to the soldier, they were sufficiently specific within a soldier’s unit.
In an effort to help fellow re-enactors, Strictly GI member Ben Major has kindly digitized the following scans of the original Information Circular for the reference of collectors and re-enactors. Of course, it is possible to find original items that are marked in different locations or styles than those laid down by this Circular, but this handy reference should prevent any accidental loss or misplacement of your re-enactment gear!