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SAW or PI Khaki Coat

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 12:50 PM



I picked up another one of these "mystery" khaki coats from the Spanish American War (SAW) or Philippine Insurrection (PI) time period last week that I thought I would show for comment.  These cotton khaki coats have been discussed here before and the consensus opinion seems to be they were foreign/Pacific area made uniforms for US troops as a stop gap for supply shortages. 


See this and similar threads:  http://www.usmilitar...ouse-1899-1902/


My coat came from a military show along with a named mounted "US" canteen but I cannot be certain it is a true group as there are no markings or name inside the coat.  At any rate, the coat is a five button unlined cotton coat and the vendor said the removable brass US eagle buttons had been replaced.  Perhaps he only thought they had been replaced or perhaps it originally had the cloth covered buttons but who knows?  The coat has a small single hook and eye brass fastener at the lower part of the standing collar to hold the collar closed.  The sewn in shoulder straps are of the same khaki cotton twill material as the coat and have small brass US eagle buttons.  The coat has two flapped breast pockets with brass buttons.  There are no lower hip pockets and the pleated pockets have a distinctive pleat that continues down the front of the coat where a lower pocket would be placed.  The coat also has an interior belt that fastens with a brass buckle and there is a single brass exterior belt hook on the left side of the coat.  


An interesting SAW or PI uniform that seems to be from the early days of the conflict.


What do you think?

Attached Images

  • SAW tunic.JPG
  • SAW tunic back.JPG
  • SAW tunic back shoulders.JPG
  • SAW tunic chest.JPG
  • SAW tunic collar hook.JPG
  • SAW tunic cuff.JPG
  • SAW tunic pleats.JPG
  • SAW tunic interior belt.JPG

#2 US Victory Museum

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 02:44 PM

Hello Sarge:


I love these Spanish American War (Philippine theater) uniforms (coats).   


Terry (USMF Ludwigh1980) once made an observation that these all khaki coats (without the lower pockets, but with their

unique double pleated breasts extending only part way down to the upper pockets) appeared in photographs of Colorado

units returning from the Philippines.   Because the rotation of those soldiers is clearly documented, we are able to fix this

article of clothing to Spanish-American War (Philippine theater).    The Philippine War, separate from the Spanish-American

War, is accepted to begin in 1902.  This coat, therefore, is not Philippine War, but is Spanish-American War period.


Although the Spanish-American War began and ended in 1898, American troops continued to garrison their new possession

(Philippine Islands).  This coat was therefore made between 1898 and 1902 for US troops in the Philippines.   The only question

is whether it was actually made in the Philippines, or was one of the thousands procured from British Hong Kong.


If you dig back through the old posts, you'll observe that there is a great deal of variation in the construction of these types

of coats, and the types of buttons used.    Inspect all the seams inside and out.  Many of these coats are partially machine

sewn, but hand finished on the interior; others are completely machine sewn. 


I'd replace the buttons, as those appearing in your photograph are too late for this period.


Beautiful coat!    Thanks for posting it.


Your friend and fellow collector,


#3 CAC1901

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 04:23 PM

Nice! An army uniform near & dear to my collecting interests. I am a bit 'informationally' rusty at present, having recently returned to collecting after a 20 year hiatus, but this was the first khaki coat w/ trousers issued to soldiers in the Phillipines in, as I recall, late 1898. I have more specifics on these tucked away in my library, and I recall seeing a research article or two on them (iirc) in a Company of Military Historians or similar journal.  I have, or have had, a number of identical examples with most identified to US state volunteers from regiments serving in the Phillippine theater in 1898-99 such as the 1st Washington, 2nd Oregon, 1st Montana, 1st Idaho, 1st Colorado, etc. I also have a number of pictures of soldiers wearing these.  I am pretty confident they were purchased from Hong Kong and were based on a British army pattern. I know I have some correspondance on them in my Annual War Dept. Reports of the period.  


The buttons on these originally were a plain steel affair covered by khaki cloth. Unfortunately, over the years, dealers tended to sell these with the proviso that you could replace the buttons with gilt eagle buttons, and I saw a far amount of that.  On the other hand I had a few bona fide examples that had period eagle buttons (1885 pattern) applied contemporaneously, and the coat does appears in period group photos with both cloth and 1885 eagle 'replacement' buttons.  As the likelihood of finding the original cloth plain buttons on the loose is pretty low, a good compromise to keep it authentic would be to use 1885 eagles.  


These coats start to dissappear in photos by about 1900 as the new 'official' QMD patterns came into use.  I always liked these historically as they constitute one of the earliest 'camoflage' uniforms for US army service. In August of 1898 members of the 5th Corps in Cuba received the more well known khaki tunic (i.e. with the branch of color trimmings) so these were the pacific theater equivalent. I seem to recall their appearance date was barely a few months later but I'd have to verify that when I have the time. Treasure it! 

Edited by CAC1901, 02 December 2019 - 04:26 PM.




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Posted 03 December 2019 - 07:22 AM

Thank you both for your thoughts and responses.  I thought these khaki coats were early and I was hoping that they truly fit into the SAW time frame and you have both confirmed that thinking for me.  


Here are a few pictures of the canteen that came with the coat, which is interesting for several reasons.  First, it is a mounted style of canteen with a 1904 date on the R.I.A. inspected Y strap.  Second, it is complete with the cork stopper and chain in decent condition.  Third, it has the soldier's name written on the back as "T. Gould" or perhaps the first initial is "J" instead of "T" in period cursive.  At any rate, It is possible this was the owner of the coat if he stayed in service until 1904.



Attached Images

  • SAW canteen.JPG
  • SAW canteen top.JPG
  • SAW canteen strap.JPG
  • SAW canteen back.JPG
  • SAW canteen name.JPG




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Posted 05 December 2019 - 08:27 AM

Moved to the Spanish-American War (SAW) section since we determined this is a SAW period coat.

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