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Now accepted by Webster as a synonym for marine, the term "leatherneck" was derived from a leather stock once worn around the neck by both American and British marines—and soldiers also. Beginning in 1798, "one stock of black leather and clasp" was issued to each marine annually. The dress blue uniform still bears that stock collar today, while the service uniform's standing collar was changed to a rolled-flat type prior to World War II.
This stiff leather collar, fastened by two buckles at the back, measured nearly three and a half inches high, and it prevented the neck movement necessary for sighting along a barrel. The origin of the leather neck collar has to do with early 19th Century military fashion trends in Europe and North America. Its use among enlisted men supposedly improved their military bearing and appearance by forcing the chin high and to serve as protection for one's neck from sword blows. General George F. Elliott, recalling its use after the Civil War, said it made the wearers appear "like geese looking for rain."
Leather collars were later issued to marines sent to the Philippines during the Philippine-American War because of the high casualty rate due to neck wounds and decapitations especially in battles in the Southern Philippines.