Dog tags first appeared on the battle field during the Civil War. American soldiers wanted to ensure that their identities would be known should they die in battle. In the mid 1800’s, most soldier’s took the initiative to create the first forms of identification. Many fashioned their own “ID” out of pieces of wood and took great care to mark all their personal belongings. A hole was punched in one end so that they could be worn on a string around the neck.
“Soldier’s Pins” were made of silver or gold and were inscribed with an individual’s name and unit designation. Private vendors offered these “Identification disks” for sale just prior to battles. Many feared being listed among the unknowns. The Federal Government still had not issued an official identification tag. 42% of the Civil War dead remain unidentified.
In1899, the first official issuing of identification tags took place. Army Regulations of 1913 made identification tags mandatory, and by 1917, all combat soldiers wore aluminum discs on chains around their necks.
By the beginning of World War II, the circular disc was replaced by the oblong dog tag as we know it today.
Source: DUZZLE ART BLog