New Original Forage Cap Surfaces!!!
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Author:  BrianTWhite [ Wed Dec 24, 2008 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  New Original Forage Cap Surfaces!!!

Check out this link to Civil War Preservations....a nice staff officer's forage cap.


This is an absolutely GREAT looking piece of headgear...too bad there's no identification with it! The last sentence in the description is cautious at best but I feel that this may very well have belonged to a member of the 1st or 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters. I am not familiar with any other piece of war-time headgear from any other sharpshooter units that were dark green.

Author:  cmcelhose [ Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Original Forage Cap Surfaces!!!

Could also have been a cap issued to Birney's Sharpshooters (203rd PA) which enlisted in 64 and were issued surplus greens which had been on hand for Berdans. Birney's were "sharpshooters" in name only though as they carried springfields and were not marksman. Sort of the same issue as finding a DST Sharps which could have also been issued to a bucktail.

Author:  BrianTWhite [ Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Original Forage Cap Surfaces!!!

Ah, almost forgot about the 203rd Pennsylvania. I wish I had the scan on the computer I'm using but I used to own a CDV of a member of the 203rd. He had a fatigue blouse with veteran half-chevrons on the cuffs, sky blue pants, and a civilan hat with feather and all sorts of brass on the front (wreath, "203 PVSS", and a company letter, as well as an eagle devide pinning the brim up).

After finding this CDV and seeing a handful of others from private collections, someone shared with me a letter grouping of a member from Co. B 203rd which stated the men were upset because they still hadn't received their green uniforms and were told after dress parade that they'd have to leave camp with standard blue. This is of course only one mention of the green uniforms that they might have been issued after leaving camp.

Author:  Bill Skillman [ Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Original Forage Cap Surfaces!!!


Based upon all of the color, materials, construction, internal features that you, Dan, Don Smith, Mike Stiles, et al have carefully explained to me while examining similar forage caps of the period, I agree that it is from the 1860's. The very short and sharply angled brim suggests it may be officer grade and private purchase. It has many of the same features as the Gettysburg museum USSS cap (sans the Sept 1863/red diamond aka 1st Div 3rd Corps badge).

From my research, while a number of early sharpshooter companies were proposed for Berdan's command (3 foot and 1 mounted regt) the majority raised up to and after March 1862 ultimately chose to remain with their state regiments. I think it highly unlikely that an officer or NCO from one of these companies would have purchased a cap of this color. But since we don't have a provance, we'll never be certain. While the 203rd PA/Birney's Sharpshooters has been proposed as the destination for the surplus USSS uniforms, I don't think we have enough information to establish that this was the case. I certainly think this cap would have not been issued from the QM as it doesn't match up with the standard US pattern.

Bill Skillman
Randolf Mess-USSS

Author:  David Rider [ Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Original Forage Cap Surfaces!!!

I saw this cap over the weekend, the owner does not have any other details as far as the origins. The shop is about 40 minutes from my house and I just happen to be in the area, so I stopped by to see it.

Author:  cmcelhose [ Sat Apr 04, 2009 10:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Original Forage Cap Surfaces!!!


I just now noticed your comment on the 203rd indicating you did not believe we have enough info to establish that it was one of the destinations for the surplus greens. While I have not personally verified the research he conducted, Troiani writes in his "Regiments and Uniforms" book pg 168...

...this regiment would be known as Birney's Sharpshooters and would wear the uniform of the the famous Berdan's Sharpshooters... Since 1862 the Union army Quartermaster Department had supplied the distinctive green uniform that, along with their legendary shooting skills, had been the hallmark of Berdan's regiments. Now, in the fall of 1864, there were more green uniforms on hand than there were men to wear them.

The 203rd received the remaining stock of green frock coats and trousers, along with a few caps. This issue was supplemented by newly made items, just as had been the practice for the past three years.

This is at least one source that indicates such. According to his book the sources he has for info on the 203rd are:

National Archives, Record Group 94 Regimental Books, 203rd PA Infantry
Ibid., Record Group 92, entry 2182 Washington Depot to Schuylkill Arsenal, Sept 23 1864.
The War of the Rebellion: The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, series I, vol. 46, part 1,414-21.

My main point in bringing them up was that all green uniform items we find are not always necessarily berdan's. Just as all DST sharps in the right serial number range may not have been actually carried by a Berdan as some of that surplus from Berdan's order was issued to the Bucktails. We should always taper our optimism with caution, when new items surface.

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