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Army Issued USMC Field Hats 1899 to 1917


world war I nerd
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Brilliant work, Nerd! Another great reference from you for those of us who need to learn "new stuff" about "old stuff". Thank you! Semper Fi Bobgee

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world war I nerd

Thanks to all who posted comments, especially Warguy and US Victory Museum for materially adding to this post.

 

Mike, since this post is meant to show what the early US Army Campaign Hats actually looked like, if it's not too much trouble, please add photos of your 1889 Campaign Hats. I think it would be beneficial to all to see other examples.

 

Also, if you have any additional information pertaining to the specifications of the 1889, 1899, 1902, 1904 and 1912 Campaign Hats that I either didn't have or omitted which may be useful, please add whatever you have to the post ... Thanks again for contributing.

 

Despite the fact that it's not in USMC service, here's another photo of the 1902 Campaign Hat with folded brim. It is worn by "Dandy", mascot of Company A, 19th Infantry regiment posted to Ft. Bliss, Texas.

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  • 9 months later...

I was admiring this thread once more and thought it time to bring it up again. I recently visited the Marine Corps museum. On display is a campaign hat once belonging to Smedley Butler and if I recall, said to have been worn by him in China during the Boxer rebellion. I looked close and although the display is a bit dark, the flash on my camera brought out clearly a snow flake pattern vent. For me , further evidence that these snowflake patterns were the first campaigns issued to the Marines in Span Am and China at turn of the Century. Great post once again.

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Well it is a lousy one, taken through glass with the cell phne but here goes. the snowflake pattern doesnt show up in photo but did in person when the flash went off. Kevin

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  • 3 years later...

Does anyone know the purpose of the additional eyelets under the hat band on the 1912 USMC Campaign Hat?

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These vents would have been hidden under the ribbon that was once on it. I am guessing extra ventilation but it is also interesting that they are located in the same spot unit letters and numbers would have been affixed as well. I am leaning toward just extra ventilation though. Is it a folded brim (Marine)?

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Kevin I agree on the possibility of extra ventilation. Company numbers would normally be worn higher than the ribbon...although I guess given the occasional variations it's possible they could be worn on the ribbons, but given how the prongs were attached/shaped, a pre-punched hole like these would not hold the numbers securely IMHO.

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world war I nerd

At the time this post was created the majority of the images used were drawn from a digital WW I era photo archive that I'd created over a period of a decade or so. When I downloaded the vast majority of those photos, I did so without noting their source of origin. I did that because I had no idea that I would one day be writing online articles such as this. In other words, the original intent was to build a personal photo data base from which I could learn ... Hence, the source of a large number of the photos used in this post were never credited because I failed to document their source at the time of downloading.

 

I am happy to say that the wonderful USMC photos used in posts: No. 1, No. 3, No. 16, & No. 22 all came from the amazingly comprehensive website - chinamarine.org

 

If you've not visited that website, I just looked at it again today, and it is well worth a look. Thanks Dirk, for reminding me from where the above mentioned photos came, and for creating such an informative (both visually and textually) online USMC reference source.

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Hope this isn't too silly a question, but is there a good way of telling if the reinforcing brim stitching is made of silk as in the specs for 1913, or cotton as in the specs for 1916? My hat is one of the two versions, but no idea which. Thanks.

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world war I nerd

Mikie. I wish I could help you in regard to silk versus cotton thread, but I don't know how to tell the difference either. Maybe someone with an intimate knowledge of textiles can let the rest of us know.

 

This probably won't help much, but a very hasty Google search told me that silk thread is both stronger and smoother that cotton thread.

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  • 1 year later...
On 3/4/2015 at 9:12 AM, warguy said:

Okay a few further thoughts and one wrench in things. Once again, I am so grateful for this post as I have also been researching campaign hats worn by Marines for a while. So let me offer this-according to the excellent reference Hats Off Head Dress of the US Army 1872-1912 by Langellier, we first must properly identify these hats by their model (and corresponding issue) dates. The snowflake pattern used so widely by the Army in the Span Am War is properly referred to as the model 1889. The screen vent hat as the model 1899. The first star vent is the model 1902. For me, the Marine use of the screen vent was the missing link here, I did not know prior to yesterday, that they used it. In fact had I known, I would have purchased the one depicted and offered by Bay State a while back. Photo 04 in this thread as previously stated shows Marines in the Boxer rebellion in China. This photo is dated 1900 in several other references. Clearly they are not wearing the screen vent. It is impossible to see whether the punched holes are a snowflake pattern or star pattern, but since it is 1900 and the star pattern was developed in 1902, at least by model number, is it safe to say these are in fact the snowflake pattern? So I proposed this as a theory:

 

Marines prior to the issue of the screen vent hat around late 1900 and prior, wore the 1889 snowflake vent hat with the ega on the side. They transitioned first to the screen vent. The ega was moved from the side to the front not only to make it more visible as previously thought, but simply because the screen vent now occupied that space. They then moved on to the 1902 hat with again the ega remaining on front. Just food for thought. Kevin

 Kevin I spent the last few weeks studying these early Marine Field hats and I think you are right. I have asked the museum to send me copies of acquisition photos of Butlers hat....but photo evidence in my collection and several others supports your conclusions. I reached the same conclusion and then rediscovered Nerds thread. Here is a period photo of the Marines just after the Battle of Tientsin on 13-14 Aug. I think I see a mix of hats and models. Certainly the EGAs run the gamut from front, side or not worn. I think I see at least 1-2 model 1899's while most remain the 1889's. Some may also have leather chin straps but many without. I think in the summer of 1900 the HQ USMC settled on a standard pattern field hat with rolled brim, probably a star event and chin strap....but they very few in number if at all out in the PI when these men were called to China duty. An advanced collector has a great PI portrait that shows all those features but I need to ask him if it is dated or if the photo is identified.  As for the EGA positioning on the side, I think the Marines in the PI started moving it to the front as early as April 1900, but many still continued to wear it on the side. Period photos show side worn EGAs above and below where the star/snow flake vent was located.  But again in support of your theory, I think the photo evidence is there.

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I think the officer lower left its row has a 1899. Sadly the Corps collection is corrupted over the years through poor record keeping from the early days in the 60's. But the Butler Hat and one found by one of the curators and now in the Natonski collection, I think could  be considered clean and serves as a baseline for the period. I think the curator said the Natonski hat was a pin wheel vent, but not sure if I heard him correctly. Brian Manifor had a early one up for sale early this year that had the rolled brim, star vent, and chin strap. I think id'd to a marine who was serving in the PI in the early 1900's so that one could have been one of the earliest true Marine approved models 

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I am glad this discussion re-surfaced. It is an interesting topic. I purchased a very nice rolled rim star vent hat with an ega on it from Brian Manifor many years ago. I will try to post some pics of it tomorrow. There is evidence that the ega was mounted at one time in the side and now rests on the front. I was under the impression though that all star vent campaign hats had rolled brims. Could I be mistaken?

 

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I will answer my own question. According to Langellier, in Hats Off, Headdress of the U.S. Army, 1872-1912, pg. 162 caption..." Left side, 1902 pattern service campaign hat.....Note the brim was turned over much like the 1876 pattern black campaign hat, rather than just stitched, as were the drab 1883, 1889, and 1899 pattern hats". So as Dirk did in his above post, if you are lucky enough to see the bottom of a hat in an original picture and it has a turned over brim, it is a safe bet to assume it is a star vent if the uniform matches the Span Am, early turn of the century period. You cannot however, assume that these rolled brims were reserved solely for the Marines in this time period. That doesn't occur until the 1911 Montana peak was issued. 

 

Here is a picture of my star vent. This came from a museum de-acquisition in California. The ega I am confident belongs with the hat, but there is evidence of the ega having positioned on the side as depicted as well as on the front. I display it on the front of the hat, as once again, I think that most star vents probably had ega's to the front during their lifetime. Dirks excellent research however, might help answer the question as to why there is evidence of the ega once resting on the side as well as on the front of this hat. It is quite possible it started on the side and was moved to the front sometime during its use. 

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So I think Kevin that is the first Marine approved model campaign hat that I am guessing follows the 1900 regulations. Prior to that anything goes:  Army pattern hats purchased directly from manufacturers or transferred from the War Department stocks, private purchase....who knows. The campaign hat was very popular in the US at the turn of the century and a number of makers made their own versions. John Langellier and Edgar Howell provide great descriptions of the Army specs for the 1889 and 1899 pattern hats. Alec has discovered some excellent documents in the National Archives that offers some hints on how these hats moved in the Marine supply system (but that's for Alec to share). but that is still not the smoking gun showing where the Marines got their first several years of hats. What I think is the Marines placed multiple orders over that two year period resulting in several shades of hat. A photo in an advanced Texas collection shows some PI Marines wearing company letters only on the front and EGAs on the side....that same company photographed after the China fighting has them shifting the EGA to the front with company, battalion letter-numbers IAW regulations. For the asiatic Marines the Boxer Revolt imho is the dividing line between side and front mounted EGAs. The photos above show some still wearing it to the side early in the campaign. Photos of the Legation Guards show them wearing it exclusively side mounted. But they were in Peking I think at the end of May and additional Marines from the PI did not reach China until June July and these show a mix of EGA position wear. As for makers here is a list of companies that applied for an 1898 Army contract. Let's assume the Marine Quartermaster Depot in Philadelphia would have easy access to several of these Philadelphia based companies....and New York is not that far.  Given Horstmans low bid, if they were fulfilling Army orders and had excess capacity I would think they would be called upon. Certainly a number of later models show Horstmann contracts 1908-10. Hopefully if I get clear pix of agents a Butlers hat I will add them to this thread. Also attached is a 1900 note stating Army Campaign hat requirements for part of 1900 in the PI. 

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5 hours ago, Dirk said:

Kevin beautiful hat!!  is there any contract markings inside on of the sweat band? Is that a Nickel silver or brass EGA?

Thanks Dirk, and thanks again for the additional information above. I find this so interesting and really needed for early Marine Corps collectors.

 

In answer to your questions, I think my ega on this hat might be brass. It has a bronze finish to it, and is definitely not one of the Bannerman type nickel finished ega's that come around often. Two wire prongs on the rear. I took a close up of it. The hat has a Quartermaster  stamp on the back side of the sweatband with what I assume might be a Inspector's name? . Kevin

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Kevin thank you! Great photos...that EGA from what I was told by the EGA experts is correct. Looks like a contract stamp under Gilsons name.....

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Thanks Dirk, until you brought that to my attention, I didn't see the markings under the Depot and A Gilson stamp. Sure enough a close look reveals a purple colored stamp. All I can make out is Chas. last name starts with a W and is about 6 letters long or so with "Inspector" under that very visible. Under that is U.S.... there are additional letters I just cant make out, could be USQMD or who knows, USMC?  So your thoughts are that A. Gilson might be maker, or another inspector? He doesn't show up in my book on military contractors/manufacturers. Do you think a secondary inspector with the Marine Corps would have inspected at time of receipt? Thanks again. 

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