The Army warrant officer traces lineage to 1896 with the War Department's creation of civilian Headquarters Clerks and Pay Clerks. In 1916, an Army Judge Advocate General review determined that field clerks should be members of the military. Legislation in 1916 authorized those positions as military rather than civilian and created the ranks of Army Field Clerk (the former rank of Headquarters Clerk) and Quarter Master Corps Field Clerk (the former rank of Pay Clerk). In July, 1917, all Field Clerks were considered enlisted and were assigned an enlisted uniform. Their branch insignia was two crossed quill pens (worn on a disk pin on the left side of the standing collar and a freework insignia on the visored cap).
In 19 December 1917, Special Regulation 41 stated that the Army Field Clerk and Quarter Master Corps Field Clerk ranks were authorized the same uniform as an officer. Their rank insignia was now a freework pin of crossed quill pens on either side of the freework "U.S." pins worn on the standing collar of the M1909 tunic. They were not permitted the brown mohair cuff braid band of an Army officer, but were authorized a silver-and-black braid hatcord for wear with the M1911 Campaign Hat and the officer's "G.I. Eagle" on the M1902 peaked cap.