What's up with that cap. . . a thread dedicated to unusual.

A place for discussion of mounted services uniforms, headgear, footwear and related personal equipment of the horse soldier.
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Re: What's up with that cap. . . a thread dedicated to unusu

Post by Pat Holscher » Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:16 am

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.
Rick T.
Thanks Rick.

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.
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Post by Rick Throckmorton » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:37 pm

Pat,
Without running upstairs to the library, yes, I believe forage cap was the official term for this type of cap. The Hardee hat being the headpiece worn (by regulars!) for dress occassions. The Hardee was issued to quite a few of the state and other volunteer troops, but there were so many, the forage cap was the most common issue. One can imagine having to take care of the fully adorned Hardee hats when not in use. Not something I'd care to haul along in my supply trains when space was needed for food and ammunition by a unit constantly in the field and on the move. The forage cap was much easier to take care of as well. That extra length of fabric in the crown sure makes it easy why they were given the slang term, "bummer". I believe the termanology (for the Civil War uniform items ) can be found in the 1851 or 1859 equipment descriptions.
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Post by Pat Holscher » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:19 am

Here's an interesting photo, courtesy of a link on the WWI list:

http://s1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc4 ... nt=1-7.jpg

First time I've ever seen a photograph of a German soldier with something written on his helmet.
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Post by Jim Bewley » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:25 am

A translation might shed some light on it. :mrgreen:

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Post by Pat Holscher » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:45 am

Jim Bewley wrote:A translation might shed some light on it. :mrgreen:

Jim
It appears to say Wacht Im and the rest in obscured, but is probably Ost.

Watch in the east.
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Post by Jim Bewley » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:42 am

Now that is very interesting. I thought it might have been a position he held or the like, but that looks like a personalized saying of some sort. I did not know that was done much in WWI, like WWII and after. It would be an interesting study to see how many pictures of this being done in WWI could be found.

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Post by Trooper » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:13 am

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Orig-Civil-War- ... 4ab0ad2ac7

P.C.C - use the enlarge feature for a good view.
Dušan

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Post by Jim Bewley » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:10 am

Trooper wrote:http://www.ebay.com/itm/Orig-Civil-War- ... 4ab0ad2ac7

P.C.C - use the enlarge feature for a good view.
I know the "pill box" was common in Europe, but did not know it was used much in the U.S. I'm no authority on hats by any means. I have always thought is was a cool hat, although not real practical.

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:15 am

The pill box type hat was as briefly popular unofficial hat bought by U.S. officers for awhile.

It's sort of hard to grasp by modern standards, but in the post Civil War Army there was a period when officers would affect quasi military uniforms for semi dress purposes. These tended to be a little more dramatic, and European, than the official stuff. I guess, looking back to the kepi, that's really how it came in.

Anyhow, the pillbox cap was one such item, and officers bought them for semi dress use. They were never official. To my eye, they're extremely odd looking, and sort of have a beret like quality to them in that they're quasi purposeless as headgear. They were no doubt copied from British use, as they were seeing British use at that time (why they adopted them, I do not know).

I don't know when this semi official semi dress thing went away, but by the 20th Century you don't seem to see it anymore. You see a lot of variety in the quality of dress items, and in some individual items of dress or field use (boots for example) but you don't see big departures from the standard uniform like that often. When you do, you tend to see it on an entire unit basis, such as in the modern example of Stetsons, or the late 1970s armor use of berets.
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Post by Couvi » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:39 pm

Pat Holscher wrote:The pill box type hat was as briefly popular unofficial hat bought by U.S. officers for awhile.

It's sort of hard to grasp by modern standards, but in the post Civil War Army there was a period when officers would affect quasi military uniforms for semi dress purposes. These tended to be a little more dramatic, and European, than the official stuff. I guess, looking back to the kepi, that's really how it came in.

Anyhow, the pillbox cap was one such item, and officers bought them for semi dress use. They were never official. To my eye, they're extremely odd looking, and sort of have a beret like quality to them in that they're quasi purposeless as headgear. They were no doubt copied from British use, as they were seeing British use at that time (why they adopted them, I do not know).

I don't know when this semi official semi dress thing went away, but by the 20th Century you don't seem to see it anymore. You see a lot of variety in the quality of dress items, and in some individual items of dress or field use (boots for example) but you don't see big departures from the standard uniform like that often. When you do, you tend to see it on an entire unit basis, such as in the modern example of Stetsons, or the late 1970s armor use of berets.
The pill box had has some merit for troops working in casemates in fortifications. How it ever got to troops working in the sun is a mystery to me.

The buzz on the street is that in the U.S. Army the beret is going the way of bustles and buggy whips. Overseas caps return for semi-dress, and patrol caps for undress.
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Post by Brian P. » Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:50 am

There were a few State Cavalry units that used the pill-box cap for undress. The Philadelphia City Cav, like the man in the photo, but also the 3rd New Jersey Cavalry. I believe that Squadron A in New York also wore a pill-box at one time. It seems to be units that wore large ungainly headdress for dress, i.e. busbies or dragoon helmets.

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:34 am

The rather odd 1920s-early 40s, cap worn by Soviet troops, worn here by a POW of the Finns.

http://sa-kuva.fi/neo?tem=webneo_image_ ... =&zoom=YES
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Post by Pat Holscher » Sun May 18, 2014 6:17 pm

Examples of the Ridgeway and "baseball" caps in use.

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 7475_n.jpg
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Post by Brian P. » Mon May 19, 2014 6:14 am

Pat Holscher wrote:Examples of the Ridgeway and "baseball" caps in use.

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 7475_n.jpg
Are those Vietnamese officers wearing the Ridgeway caps?

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Post by Pat Holscher » Mon May 19, 2014 6:19 am

Brian P. wrote:
Pat Holscher wrote:Examples of the Ridgeway and "baseball" caps in use.

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 7475_n.jpg
Are those Vietnamese officers wearing the Ridgeway caps?
They are.
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Post by Pat Holscher » Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:23 am

The Navy's new baseball cap regulation:

http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/s ... 20FAQs.pdf

Admit it, you need to know this information.
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Post by Couvi » Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:22 am

Pat Holscher wrote:Examples of the Ridgeway and "baseball" caps in use.

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 7475_n.jpg
It was physically impossible to make that 1960's baseball cap look 'cool.' :roll:
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Post by Pat Holscher » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:52 am

Couvi wrote:
Pat Holscher wrote:Examples of the Ridgeway and "baseball" caps in use.

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 7475_n.jpg
It was physically impossible to make that 1960's baseball cap look 'cool.' :roll:
That's for sure. That weird stiffener didn't do it any favors.
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Post by Todd » Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:22 pm

Pat Holscher wrote:
Brian P. wrote:
Pat Holscher wrote:Examples of the Ridgeway and "baseball" caps in use.

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 7475_n.jpg
Are those Vietnamese officers wearing the Ridgeway caps?
They are.
Given French influences, might these not be kepis? Admittedly, it's difficult to tell from the angle they're holding their heads - I would see two primary differences between Ridgeway and French kepi, the downward angle of the top surface for a Ridgeway vs. the flat top kepi, and (to a lesser degree) the curved visor of the Ridgeway vs. the flat brim of the kepi.

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Post by Tony Barton » Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:48 am

Getting back to the cavalry pillbox, it was really just a smartened-up version of the softer and bigger forage cap of the Napoleonic Wars.
The circular style seems to have originally come from Eastern Europe, and was sometimes termed a " Pokalem " by the French , and the first ones had a let-down flap round the edge as well.
All troops at the time had an undress soft hat to wear in camp , since they wore large stiff shakos during the day. The forage cap was also used to sleep in .

In British service, the circular cap seems to have become knitted rather than tailored quite early on, perhaps following the traditional construction of the Scots bonnet.But the cavalry started to sharpen theirs into pilboxes at about this1850s period , and as has been suggested , they were quite useless for anything but swank.
The cavalry seem to have kept their helmets, shakos and busbies for battle , but wore the pillbox at all other times, and the fashion persists right up to 1900. The Infantry dumped their shakos at the first battle in the Crimea, and never much bothered with them in the field thereafter, since their knitted caps were so much more practical.

Almost all military fashion can be traced back to something that was once practical, then became formalised into something utterly useless, but decorative.
Look at a Hussar.

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