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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
Posts: 162
My first piece of original uniform "cloth" that I will definitely keep is this very rare 1st U.S. Sharpshooters forage cap. I'm happy to have added this to my collection after weeks of raising funds and having it authenticated by several collectors and museum professionals. It's a prime example of a commercially produced, private purchase style that grew in popularity as the war progressed. In my researching original Berdan's Sharpshooters portraits, this type of cap begins to appear in large numbers around late summer and fall of 1863. This coincided with many original 1861 veterans re-enlisting that fall. The state and Federal pay bonuses they received allowed the enlisted men a large degree of leeway in their dress, with commercially produced blouses, jackets, vests, and headgear being the most prevalent garments I have seen.

The cap body is a plain woven fast-dyed dark green with a fine face finish. The weave is visible in areas of insect damage. The lining is a plain woven fine linen or cotton without padding. The sweatband may have originally been red or reddish-brown and is the usual quality and style seen in commercially produced headgear of the period. The chinstrap and visor are glazed leather with both components utilizing pieces of enameled linen canvas for the chinstrap adjustment loops and visor binding . The chinstrap is held in place by pin-shank rubber buttons, a style that was sold by the regimental sutler and used on coats made by Philadelphia Depot in 1863, and are original to the cap. The thread used to sew the buttons is the same coarse, heavy cord that was used to attach the visor.

Finally, intact insignia is not often seen in extant USSS headgear but various styles and qualities of the red 1st Division, Third Corps badge can be seen in a number of sharpshooter portraits. The badge seen here is not the original early 1863 issue "tilted square" but an elongated "lozenge" variant popularized after the Gettysburg campaign by it's use in officer-grade medals and corps badges. The "lozenge" style Third Corps badge in plain cloth shows up in many USSS portraits alongside the govt. issue "tilted square" type. The regimental numeral appears original to the cap and is affixed by a single loop of brass wire which is crimped down on the inside of the.

Despite the rarity of the piece, it is sadly unidentified to any soldier. The previous owner included paperwork that points to an origin in New Hampshire but exactly where is currently unknown. If so, then this would have been worn by a member of Company E, 1st U.S. Sharpshooters likely no earlier than the fall of 1863. Because commercial caps were popular with re-enlisted soldiers, it could have belonged to one of six original Co. E veterans who re-enlisted and were furloughed at the beginning of January, 1864. Maybe time will tell.

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_________________
Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
http://www.wwandcompany.com
----------------------------------
Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:59 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:25 pm
Posts: 22
Location: ROCKPORT, MAINE
First of all, congratulations Brian for "pulling the trigger" on this incredible and important relic. Secondly, I am sure that I speak for many in thanking you for once again sharing your knowledge and including such definitive clear photos to back up your description of the hat's construction.

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Captain Dave Sulin
Rockport, Maine
"Mind your helm"


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