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US Uniforms of the Philippine-American War 1898-1902

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The Philippine-American War has been nearly lost to American History.

In May 1898, Adm. Dewey steamed into Manila Bay and routed
the Spanish Fleet; however, without forces to land, a stalemate
persisted until August 1898 with the Spanish occupying the walled
city of Manila, Dewey occupying the bay, and Filipinos dug in along
the perimiter of the city. After the surrender in August 1898,
American forces began to land in increasing numbers. By autumn,
it was clear the Americans intended to keep the Philippines.
When the initial fighting broke out in early Feb. 1899, there were
already 21,000 US troops on the Islands, by summer there would be
35,000.

On July 4th, 1902 there was an official declaration ending the
war; however, it would take an additional 15 years before the
fighting would effectivly cease, with the exception of sporatic
skermishes with Moros into WWI.



Many of the unique uniforms used in the Philippines by American
soldiers originate from the early part of the war, at a time when
cotton uniforms were in short supply. Many photos show troops at
ports of embarcation, like the Presidio, wearing their woolen sack
coats, which were unsuitable for the climate of the Philippines.
Anecdotal evidence suggests uniforms were acquired from British Hong
Kong, as well as locally made. These uniforms have certain features
in common, and differ in small details.


This officer's blouse was acquired without the epaulets, that is to
say that I have added them for display purposes; however, they are
consistant in both construction and hardware so as to identify them
as Philippine made by comparing them to known specimens. Dating
these types of uniforms is made difficult by their not conforming to
American specifications. One might assume that by the position
of the upper pockets, that this blouse was made no earlier than 1900;
yet, there is a box pleat on the reverse side that is found only on
1898 uniforms. Moreover, the box pleat is only 1½" wide, and not the
2" as found on first pattern 1898 belted uniforms.


 

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The only thing that one can say with certainty, is that Philippine
War uniforms were acquired during the time period when Amercian
issued uniforms (for enlisted) were in short supply.


This officer's blouse has neither the external belt, like the first
pattern 1898 khakis, nor the internal belt like the enlisted men's
Philippine/British Hong Kong made uniform blouses.

 

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Since the epaulets did not accompany this blouse, their early blue infantry
color can only be used to date themselves. Sometime in 1899, infantry began
to use white as their identifying color.

These are regulation Sky Blue on the obverse, and khaki on the reverse side.

 

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Instead of using the ubiquitous hook-'n'-eye hardware for the epaulets,
officer's uniforms in the Philippines used a cloth loop sewn to the
blouse for either threading an epaulet, in the form of a folded piece
of cloth securred with a button, or for attaching an epaulet utilizing
unique metal hardware found on accouterments known to have been produced
in the Philippines. (See following photo)

 

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This photo shows the reverse side of a pair of white (infantry) epaulets
(found on Bay State's site). Adolfo Richter & Co. had locations in Manila
and Cebu Island. The clips slid over the cloth loop sewn at the shoulder
of the uniform blouse and were securred with a button.

 

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I found this photo at the web site listed below:
http://cabinetcardgallery.wordpress.com/category/spanish-american-war/


The card identifies that the photo was produced in Manila.
Please observe that the epaulets are white cloth that are
folded around the loop and fixed with a button. Prior to
1917, a 2nd Lt. would not have worn any insignia, but would
have been reconizeable by his hat and sword belt.

In 1899, the American made enlisted uniform would have had
a falling collar and branch colored epaulets, whereas the
foreign made enlisted uniforms used in the Philippines had
a short standing collar and khaki epaulets that were a non-
removeable part of the uniform

 

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This blouse (featured in a previous posting) has an internal
belt that is integral to it. The belt is closed using buttons
composed of either bone or ivory. This blouse is completely
finished using a treadle sewing machine.

 

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This blouse differs from the first by having button holes
on the upper pockets. The inner belt is securred with a
friction type buckle as also found on the back of trousers
from this era.

This article, like one owned by Terry (USMF Ludwigh1980)
has the major seams sewn by machine, but all the excess
material is folded over and hand sewn throughout.

 

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I acquired this uniform from fellow forum member and mentor Mr. Gil Sanow.

At that time he had suggested and I had believed that these two pocket blouses
were replacement articles of clothing perhaps issued to troops returning to
the states at quarentine locations such as Montauk Point, NY. The army, in
its efforts to prevent the spread of Yellow Jack, and other tropical diseases,
often required the destruction by burning of articles in posession of returning
troops. Later as I began to grow curious and began to do some minor research
on the I-Net, I could find no reference to the two pocket uniforms, other than
those articles found in the posession of troops who all happened to have served
in the Philippines. Photographic evidence began to poin only to the Philippines.

I have come across anecdotes suggesting that the US Quartermaster may have
purchased up to six thousand uniforms from British Hong Kong for use in the
Philippines; however, conclusive proof has eluded me.

British foreign service uniforms from 1896 are remarkably similar. The detailed
photographs I have observed of one officer's, and two enlisted men's uniforms
both show a pair of seams running down toward, but not quite reaching the top
pockets. With the exception of the internal belt, and the shape of the pocket
flaps, these could easily be confused with the P1912 USMC summer uniform at
first glance.

The American uniforms used in the Philippines all have only a single seam.

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); however, photographic evidence suggests that while the two
are remarkably similar, nevertheless they differ from one another.

 

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This Philippine War blouse is the only one that I've either seen or heard of
that has a stamping inside the back of the collar. Unfortunately it neither
photographs well, nor is legeable under standard lighting. Only the 3rd line
is partially readable and it looks like "L.I. City", for which google returned
nada when used with combinations of "Philippines", "Blouse", "Uniform", "Jacket",
or "Clothing", and "Luzon Island City" (a guess).


END SUBJECT.




Previous discussions, photographs, and examples may be found in the
link below:
http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/186010-philippine-american-war-blouse-1899-1902/

 

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Excellent information on these rather confusing uniforms. At least I have always been confused by these two-pocket and four-pocket summer weight tunics. It really does appear that we did not have our logistics in place for this "splendid little war".

 

Thanks!


"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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Very educational post covering a very important but under appreciated period of US history. Really enjoyed it.


Visit My Website

Falls Creek Collectibles
Selling Quality 20th Century Militaria


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Mike,

 

As usual, you have produced an awesome post with awesome items. Thanks for sharing and educating.

 

Mario


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Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.

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What a great collection from an era of US military history that does not get a lot of attention! Keep up the great collecting!

 

Kyle


325th_Crest.jpgAlways looking for any 82nd AB items!

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The "L.I. City" mark interests me. Isn't there a Long Island City on Long Island, NY -- not far from Montauk Point were troops returning from Cuba came home to?

 

BTW -- the Hospital Corps Steward's chevrons seen above were added to the coat by me.

 

G



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Superb pieces as always, Mike. That officers coat is great. There is a Laguna Island in the Philippines as well. I am getting a period atlas of the Philippines that is coming in an officers grouping of the 1st South Dakota Volunteers which one of the earlies groups that served in the Philippines during the Spanish American War and later Philippines Insurrection. I will look to see if there is any L.I. City in there. Great post.

 

Fellow Philippine Insurection History Nerd


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Seeking Model 1895 and 1902 Named Officer coats as well as Spanish American War Tropical Uniforms.
Also pre WW2 marine uniforms. Always pre-1945 Colorado National Guard Items wanted! Also seeking Rhodesian

Uniforms and Gear used by Americans in the Rhodesian Security Forces during the Bush War (Africa).

 

Fortune cookie say: "An expert is someone that knows so much about so little."

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"L.I." is certainly a common abbreviation for Long Island. There IS an Long Island City on the western end of Long Island -- I call it a suburb of NYC. Was there an SAW vintage uniform maker there? I have no idea.

 

(Montauk Point is on the far eastern end of the island.)

 

Mapquest.com is a wonderful thing.

 

G



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Dear Gil:

 

I wish I could read the entire stamp; however, without lighting filters or computer software to enhance contrast, I can

only read what appears in normal light.

 

Upon close observation in bright light, the letters in the top line are possibly:

 

A*SETFERTH

A*SEIFERTH

 

Or the S could be a B

 

This could be a property or costumer's mark, like the items owned by some of the Hollywood prop houses, or

perhaps a local playhouse. I won't dismiss the possibility this mark is indeed the L.I. City of New York; however,

I don't see anyone locally (in the US) making a blouse that doesn't conform at least to previous uniforms standards

in the absence of specifications, which weren't adopted until sometime in 1899.

 

The period photos of this style blouse were only taken in the Philippines. I am skeptical of its being made in

the US. Unless or until additional uniforms of this type surface with any type of markings, this will remain speculation.

 

P.S.

The 'scientist' within me hates "consensus"; I want hard proof.


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The Army Soldier Center at Carlisle Barracks, PA, has quite a collection of SAW soldier photos -- that where many that Mike Bruun and I used in the 1983 article we wrote on khaki uniforms for the Company of Military Historians -- think I sent you a copy. If you could see this photo collection and do a statistical study of the uniforms worn and the units who wore them, and tie that to where they served overseas, I suspect you could prove where 2-pocket coats were worn.

 

Shortly before the article was published, Dr. John Phillip Langellier published an article on what he described as a coat which could be tucked into the trousers and worn as a shirt. You might want to find this -- early '83 or late '82 I think -- Again, "Military Collector and Historian" is the publication.

 

If/when I have time (next week?) I will try to look it up, but perhaps someone else has access to it sooner.

 

G



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I had a few minutes this evening after all, and was able to dig into my notes for the '83 MC&H article. Included were the original xeroxes of some of the photos Carlisle had on hand. Looking specifically for those which show th two-pocket coat, the following units were ID'd:

Co. K, 3rd US Infantry

Co F, 14th US Infantry (but hat insignia shows Co G, 16th)

Co E, 22nd US Infantry

Interestingly, the first two photos listed show two soldiers, one each in 4 pocket and 2 pocket coats, so it appears issue was inconsistent.

 

Now, does anyone out there have access to a list of locations where these units served during and after the SAW, say to 1903 or perhaps a little later?? If any of them, or even all, served in the PI, that might prove the above theory, but if any of these units never went there, it would disprove that the 2 pocket coat was exclusive to the PI.

 

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