Military Police Insignia
“CROSSED PISTOLS” MILITARY POLICE INSIGNIA
How the Military Police Corps adopted it
In 1920, when a reorganization of the Army occurred, the original staff studies assigned 5000 infantrymen to the Military Police mission. Chief of Infantry, Major General Farnsworth, protested this arrangement because it charged him with troops that he would never have under his control. He won his point with the General Staff and the War Department created another temporary arm of the service: the Corps of Military Police.
A new corps insignia was needed, as well as a new-collar mark. The infantrymen carried a musket, the cavalryman wore a saber, and the Military Policeman carried a billy-club. The draftsman was instructed to draw crossed billy-clubs. The result was a failure. At saluting distance the MP could not be distinguished from the field artilleryman. The club insignia looked like crossed cannon. Next, the medieval military club, the mace, was tried. Beautiful drawings were made but looked like potato mashers. The MP was armed with a .45 caliber pistol. This was tried as an insignia but looked like carpenter’s squares. The .45 caliber pistol, like the others, made inartistic devices.
The heraldic section was reminded of the Harper’s Ferry Army Arsenal flintlock pistol. Everyone interested in the new insignia agreed and the Chief of Staff, General Pershing, signed the drawings and later approved the metal collar mark, still proudly worn by the U.S. Army Military Police Corps.
The device and its development were the idea of Captain George M. Chandler, War Department General Staff, U.S. Army. The original pistols for the design were in the collection of Major Jerome Clark, U.S. Army. Drawings for the insignia were made in 1922 by the Heraldic Section, Quartermaster General.
The “Crossed Pistols” insignia for the Military Police Corps was approved in 1923. The device depicts two scale models of the Harper’s Ferry officer’s sidearm and holster pistol of a century-and-a-half ago, rather than dueling pistols, as some believe. The Crossed Pistols have been the Official symbol of the Military Police Corps since its inception and continue to represent military and martial preparedness.