Thanks Rick.Rick Throckmorton wrote:I have always read the term as simply nomenclature. Yes, the "forage cap" was adopted as part of the 1872 pattern uniform items, but I think the term was to simply differentiate that cap from the other headgear of the period. The forage cap was a sort of fatigue cap that was to be worn in undress type formations, fatique, and other labor duties. The campaign hat was for use generally away from the post to protect the wearer from a wide array of elements that they could not excape from. The dress helmet was used for formal occassions, mostly around the post. Three diffrerent types of issued headgear merited three different official terms for them. The cap in discussion was of a kepi design, which of course was of French origin as was much of the uniform and other equipments of the era. Kepis of various designs had been in use in the American army for some time as had been other types of forage caps, like the "bummer"(similar, but with more cloth in the crown, which often was very unkept in appearance, earning the sobriquet, "bummer"). The Americans, being a young national entity, generally looked to the European continental militaries, especially the British, the Germans, and the French, for hints and guidance in dress and equipment.
What surprises me is that I'm under the impression that the hat of the general type depicted in the photo below was a standard issue hat during the Civil War. I think it might indeed just be a matter of nomenclature, but I'm admittedly not an expert on uniforms of this period by any means. Anyhow, this New York cavalryman is wearing what I'd call a forage cap. Was this an official item, and if was, what was it called. It's so common, I have to think it was.