Warfare has given us many wonderful inventions- but it also gave us the necktie
FeaturedWIB history November 15, 2022 Andy Wolf 0
The necktie. One of the most hated garments in the Western world, likely due to its constrictive nature (both physically and metaphorically).
While one does not often equate the tie with warfare, it is one of the many inventions we can thank -or blame- on the advancement of culture through conflict.
Despite its drab and pedestrian existence in current culture, the necktie’s most commonly accepted canonical origins began during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) when Croat mercenaries under the French leadership of Louis the Great wore simple cravat neckerchiefs, which was their signature at the time.
Others argue that the practice goes back even further to 2nd Century BC times, with the terracotta tomb guards of Emperor Qin Shi Huang wearing (sculpted) tied neckerchiefs around their necks, which was reportedly a symbol of honor and loyalty.
Over time, the tie evolved through several iterations. By the early 1700s, the cloth neckwear of the time resembled leather “stocks,” which were designed to protect the user from sword and bayonet attacks. The Napoleonic war drama Sharpe, which we touched on in a previous article, gave excellent insight into how uncomfortable leather stocks were when compared to silk, cotton or wool.
Eventually, the tie became known in a form more akin to what we would recognize today, and many a commanding officer would become obsessed with the item.
One notable person of interest was General George Patton, who insisted his men wear neckties in combat, among other items that many commanders deemed “extra.”
In fact, Patton once famously admonished Sergeant Earl Hale, a soldier who had his throat slit while taking a half-dozen or so SS officers prisoner. While Hale would receive the Bronze Star for his bravery, he would receive something far more valuable that would cement his place in history: a doctor’s note.
When confronted by Patton, SSG Hale produced the note and left Patton speechless.
Upon being awarded his Bronze Star by then-Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower, the doctor’s note would elicit laughter from “Ike,” who told Hale he “was the only man in the entire European Theater of Operations to pull this one off.”
Eventually, the necktie would be discarded as a combat item, due to it being a choking hazard and other such detriments to the modern fighting man. However, it remains a dress uniform item to this day in most modern militaries.
So, now you know the origin of that thing you likely have to wear to weddings, funerals and job interviews, providing trivia that will serve well when tying someone else’s tie [see tutorial above] or when you want to appear knowledgeable about men’s formalwear.
Well, that about ties this historical piece up. Thanks for reading!
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