Since a sergeant or corporal wasn't quite as lucrative a target as an officer or first sergeant, I suspect that "subdued" rank didn't occur as often as simply not having the materials available to display rank, or not wanting to bother, or not needing to bother because the company was small enough for everyone to know who was who.
One of the reasons I think that is this excerpt from Daniel Chisholm's notebook, which I apologize for posting again: ďSaturday, Jany 14th  We have special orders for every non commissioned officer to have chevrons on their arms and stripes on their pants. The quarter master hasnít any, we have to take old blouses and make them ourselves. It is laughable to see all the boys at work with their needles. You may depend some of the stitches are long.Ē
The following day he writes: "...We had our usual Co Inspection. The boys looked real nice in their home made chevrons and stripes if they did have to make them out of old blouses...."
Chisholm was in the 116th PVI in the Second Corps, AoP, and they were in winter quarters at the time. I think that the fact that they needed their chevrons and stripes for the next day explains the quartermaster's lack of supplies, because this was an army in easy contact with City Point and every kind of store imaginable. That very condition of supply, however, would seem to indicate that their not having chevrons and stripes before then was a matter of choice, and that the choice was accepted by their superiors, up to a point.