I have been, for some time, searching for information regarding the uniforms
that have been attributed to foreign producers for US troops in the Philippines
during the Spanish-American War and Philippine war (1898-1902). Although action
continued long after the political declaration of the cessation of hostilities,
in the later period of the conflict, the supply of tropical uniforms from the US
would have eventually reach the level of demand; thus, foreign produced articles
of clothing would have been from the early period of the conflict.
Samples from (USMF) Ludwigh1980's collection, as well as my own, have blue rank
insignia as used by the Infantry into 1899, when it was changed to white.
Specifications were not written for the khaki field uniforms until 1899. These
uniforms do not conform to any specification; moreover, there exists a tremendous
variation among specimens; however, they do have certain commonalities that have
been discussed in prior topics.
In the publication "Survey of the U.S. Army Uniforms, Weapons, and Accoutrements"
by David Cole, the author asserts these uniforms to be British Pattern 95 Foreign
Service type (p.37); detailed photographs of 1895 foreign service uniforms in
British museums does not support this claim. Although similar, they are distinctly
different from one another. (This has been discussed in a prior posting.)
I have fequently seen an assertion that the US purchased uniforms en mass directly
from British Hong Kong; however, such assertions are never attributed to a source.
As such it remains unproven.
Although I have failed to discover an official Government document indicating payment
for such clothing on a Federal level, I have found contemporary discussions published
in periodicals of military interest that address the use of foreign sources of material
and the foreign production of American tropical field uniforms purchased on an
Some of the articles have been edited for brevity.
"[...] here in the Philippines we have good khaki and bad khaki. From Hong Kong we
get a uniform made on the English model, of good design but a bad fit. It is of
excellent material, lightweight; never fades, and comes back from the native laundress
fresh and immaculate any number of times. But the khaki we get from America has not
thus far been a success. The garments we get now are very well cut and made, but the
color vanishes whenever touched by perspiration, leaving dirty white streaks, and the
entire garment fades to a dirty white with repeated washing."
Dec 29th 1900
"The khaki now received in the Philippines from the United States is reported as wearing
well, holding its color, and giving general satisfaction. The Hong Kong clothing is
made of good English Khaki, holds its color and wears well, but is not made up in as
good shape as that received from the United States."
Nov. 10th 1900 This is an excerpt from The Report of the Quartermaster General (Q.M
Gen. Brig. Gen. M.I Ludington) reprinted.
The above quoted material contradict one another with regard to color durability; yet,
it must be remembered the information found in the Quartermaster General's report may
reflect an institutional bias vs the opinion of the soldier in the field observing,
wearing and laundering his own clothing.
Color fading was still a topic of debate in late 1902.
"In reply to the statement in the annual report of the Quartermaster General of the Army
that American made khaki will not hold color, the Quartermaster's Department explains
that the khaki obtained at the outbreak of the Spanish War was very inferior and would
as stated fade to some extent. Since then, and especially in the past year, experiments
have been conducted by the Department with a result that a khaki has now been obtained
which has no superior in the world and will hold its color no matter how long exposed to
the wet. Some of the old khaki, however, is still being issued, and is probably some of
this stuff which came under the eye of the Inspector General called forth in his recent
Nov. 22nd 1902
The first article addresses complete uniforms, and not just British fabric, being sourced
from British Hong Kong. Moreover, these uniforms are being made on the English model.
They are basing the cut and fit on their 1895 foreign service uniform, but not necessarily
the pattern. Although similar at first glance, they distinctly differ.
There exist a large amount of variation among the material used, and how it's assembled.
Some uniforms are sewn completely using treddle machines; others partially sewn by machine
with some seams finished by hand; and others still are completely sewn by hand.
Some internal belts use metalic friction locks to form fit the blouse to the body; others
use buttons of bone, ivory, or metal. Some have external hooks in the back to secure an
external belt. Some have cloth covered buttons, others have Federal pattern buttons.
The front pockets may or may nor have button hole closures. All of this variation
suggests a cottage industry of many manufacturers producing uniforms in Hong Kong, or
domestically using English materials.
The production of these uniforms would continue until sufficient quantities of uniforms
using quality dyes and materials could be delivered to the Philippines by the Quartermaster
corps to meet the troops' demands.
This particular blouse has the cloth covered external buttons. It has an internal belt
that is closed using a metalic friction lock; it also has sewn brass hardware in the
rear (external) to support an externally worn belt with the uniform.
It is not named and its history is unknown.
Edited by US Victory Museum, 16 August 2014 - 01:33 PM.