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1840 forage cap???????


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Well, its either a very rare 1840s era artillery forage cap, or it is a reproduction of one.

 

Unfortunately, I have not seen anywhere near enough of these to even begin to say if it is real.

 

Chris

 

Would there be any form of machine stitching at that time?

 

Ray

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Thanks for the replys.

 

I really don't know if there was machine stitching or not back in the day. I do know the buttons are original 1840 - 1850 period. Since federal buttons are still cheap, originals could have been put on a reproduction hat.

 

Is there someone on this forum or another web site that might offer more information about uniforms of this period?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Jim

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Just my humble opinion, but I think this is a reproduction of an 1839 officers forage cap. (Officers caps didn't have the neck cape that enlisted caps had.) The red band is way too bright to be that old and I have doubts about the machine stiching. The cap eagle is all wrong as those caps didn't use that type hat badge. I have trouble with the blue wool used as it looks too bright. These caps were made of Navy blue (ie. very dark) ,wool. I have a reproduction of the 1939 cap and it looks pretty good, but still a repro. This one appears to be a copy of the later version that had the visor protruding out over the eyes, instead of the earlier versions that had the visor pointing almost straight down over the forehead.

Maybe someone more familuar with original caps of this type can either verify what I've said, or prove me wrong. I'd sure like to know for sure myself. :think:

 

P.S.

After looking at it even more closely, I'm more convinced it's a repro. The original versions were shaped a little differently in that they didn't rise up in front like a modern cap. This one has a profile more like a 20th century service cap. Also note the visor has binding and I don't think these caps did. I've got a book on early Army headgear published by the Smithsonian that describes and documents these caps and this one just doesn't ring true.

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Just my humble opinion, but I think this is a reproduction of an 1839 officers forage cap. (Officers caps didn't have the neck cape that enlisted caps had.) The red band is way too bright to be that old and I have doubts about the machine stiching. The cap eagle is all wrong as those caps didn't use that type hat badge. I have trouble with the blue wool used as it looks too bright. These caps were made of Navy blue (ie. very dark) ,wool. I have a reproduction of the 1939 cap and it looks pretty good, but still a repro. This one appears to be a copy of the later version that had the visor protruding out over the eyes, instead of the earlier versions that had the visor pointing almost straight down over the forehead.

Maybe someone more familuar with original caps of this type can either verify what I've said, or prove me wrong. I'd sure like to know for sure myself. :think:

 

P.S.

After looking at it even more closely, I'm more convinced it's a repro. The original versions were shaped a little differently in that they didn't rise up in front like a modern cap. This one has a profile more like a 20th century service cap. Also note the visor has binding and I don't think these caps did. I've got a book on early Army headgear published by the Smithsonian that describes and documents these caps and this one just doesn't ring true.

 

Thanks Lee,

 

I'm open to this one being a repro but as for the shape, I pulled up the front of the cap for the picture as I thought that was the correct way for it to look. It normally sits with a "floppy" look to it.

 

The eagle insignia has me puzzled also. I read somewhere that some of these caps were in service into the civil war period. Maybe the eagle was a later addition.

 

It's a time period where I have no knowledge of hats or caps. All I know is this one is old. How old is the $64,000 question!

 

Best regards.

 

Jim

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Almost certainly a reproduction. Machine stitching did exist at the time but was rarely used on military uniforms. The condition of the cloth and leather is much too good for it to be original.

 

Bill

Looking for older Virginia Military Institute items: insignia, uniforms, cadet sabers, documents, and groupings belonging to VMI alumni.

Also interested in Virginia Reserve Militia (VRM) uniforms and insignia, or other items of general Virginia interest.

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  • 9 years later...

There is a photo of 2LT George Henry Gordon (USMA, 46) wearing a M1839 forage cap with an eagle on the front - similar to what is on this hat.

 

No opinion as to whether this is a reproduction or not, but some officers clearly wore the eagle on the front of this cap. The image on the Daguerreotype is reversed (e.g., the officer's coat appears to button from right-to-left - like a woman's blouse, rather than left-to-right - like a man's shirt or jacket) and the knot on his sash is over his right leg (it should be over his left leg), so the eagle appears to be facing to the viewer's right when it is actually facing to the left, as on the image above.

 

https://plexuss.com/college/united-states-military-academy (image is partway down on the right side of the webpage).

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  • 1 year later...
On 2/12/2019 at 10:00 PM, Ranger-1972 said:

There is a photo of 2LT George Henry Gordon (USMA, 46) wearing a M1839 forage cap with an eagle on the front - similar to what is on this hat.

 

No opinion as to whether this is a reproduction or not, but some officers clearly wore the eagle on the front of this cap. The image on the Daguerreotype is reversed (e.g., the officer's coat appears to button from right-to-left - like a woman's blouse, rather than left-to-right - like a man's shirt or jacket) and the knot on his sash is over his right leg (it should be over his left leg), so the eagle appears to be facing to the viewer's right when it is actually facing to the left, as on the image above.

 

https://plexuss.com/college/united-states-military-academy (image is partway down on the right side of the webpage).

Thank you.  I just noticed the reply.  I've had two messages that it's original since I posted this thread.  A bunch saying it's an older reproduction. 

 

I'm still not sure!

 

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George H. Gordon, USMA '46 (classmate of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson) was commissioned a brevet 2LT in the Mounted Rifles upon graduation.

 

I've attached a 'flipped' copy of the photo of him wearing the wheel cap -- with the saber & sash on the officer's left and the jacket buttoning properly.  You can compare the hat you have to the one in the Mexican War era photo.

 

From the Cullum Register of USMA graduates (highlighted his Mexican War service; he went on to become a MG of Volunteers during the Civil War):

 

Vol. II
p291

1314

(Born Mas.)

George Henry Gordon: Born July 19, 1823.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1842, to July 1, 1846, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., Mounted Rifles, July 1, 1846.

Served: in garrison at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1846; in the War with Mexico, 1846‑47, being engaged in the Siege of Vera Cruz, Mar. 9‑29, 1847, — Battle of Cerro Gordo, Apr. 17‑18, 1847, where he was

(Bvt. First Lieut., Apr. 18, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Cerro Gordo, Mex.)

 wounded, — Battle of Contreras, Aug. 19‑20, 1847, — Battle of Chapultepec, Sep. 13, 1847, — Assault and Capture of the City of Mexico, Sep. 13‑14, 1847, — and in a hand-to‑hand encounter with two guerrillas, near San Juan Bridge, Dec. 21, 1847, where he was severely wounded; on Recruiting service, 1848; on sick leave of absence, 1848‑49; at the

(Second Lieut., Mounted Rifles, Jan. 8, 1848)

Cavalry School for Practice, Carlisle, Pa., 1849‑50; on frontier duty at Ft. Vancouver, Wash., 1850‑51; in garrison at Newport Barracks, Ky., 1851; at the Cavalry School for Practice, Carlisle, Pa., 1852; on frontier duty at Ft. Scott, Kan., 1852‑53, — Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., 1853, — and

(First Lieut., Mounted Rifles, Aug. 30, 1853)

March to Laramie, Dak., 1853; and on Coast Survey, Mar. 9 to July 26, 1854.

Resigned, Oct. 31, 1854.

George H. Gordon, Mounted Rifles, 1846 (corrected image).jpg

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The brim on the hat you have appears to be both 'wider' and 'longer' than the one on the hat Gordon is wearing.  It's more like the M1912 version of the dress cap.

 

Agree that the fabric colors are very vibrant for a hat that is more than 170 years old.  That said, I have an officer's M1902 dress cap that looks like it just came off the shelf - complete with gold bullion eagle embroidered on the front of the cap that has absolutely no tarnish.  The oldest 'original' military hat I've got is an 1872 staff officer's chapeau.  The cloth & gold tassels are in excellent condition; only the ostrich feathers are a bit worse for the wear after 148 years.

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Wider, deeper, flatter cap brim (1910-1912 timeframe).  This is closer to the brim on the cap you have.

 

Narrower, shallower, more vertical cap brim (1902 timeframe).  This is closer to the brim on the cap 2LT Gordon is wearing.

 

Both are more than 50 years later - but the Army didn't "waste" leather on big cap brims in the early years.

M1910 Company grade artillery officer dress & full dress hat.jpg

M1902 Field grade infantry officers full-dress hat.jpg

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