CIVIL WAR WARRANT OFFICER’S OR MASTER’S MATE UNDRESS HAT

$3,000.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 142-99

This pattern of undress cap was introduced about 1852 and worn through the Civil War. The cap is blue wool, with an embossed, reddish Morocco leather sweatband, likely goatskin, and full polished cotton lining consisting of a 2/3 length side lining with drawstring top, light brown in color, and a slightly darker brown lining on the underside of the top. The body is pretty much cylindrical, with the sides nearly straight, giving it a much squarer look than the army forage cap. It has a chinstrap fitted with a friction buckle and stop-loop, secured at either side by a small US Navy officer’s button. The bound visor has been pressed or pinched in at either side, making it look at first much narrower than it is, and seems pretty clearly done intentionally for comfort, to shield the face as much as possible from wet, cold breezes and winds. It is a great example of a modification made to meet the needs of active service.

The condition is very good. The body has good color and is solid, with just a few scattered, pinhole moth nips. The sweatband shows use, with some loose threads, short tears or fraying to the lower edge, but is complete, largely intact and in place.

The front of the cap bears an embroidered vertical fouled anchor without wreath. This was regulation for the undress hats Boatswains, Gunners, Carpenters, and Sailmakers (warrant officers) in the 1850s and during the Civil War expanded to include Master’s Mates. By 1864 the use of gold lace around the bottom of the cap had been abolished, so perhaps that provides a tighter dating.

Civil War Navy material is scarce. Its members saw hard service in all kinds of weather, playing havoc with the survival rate of artifacts for the collector, while themselves playing a vital role in establishing the blockade, chasing commerce raiders and blockade runners, securing the Mississippi and inland waterways, supporting land operations, and engaging forts on land as well as other ships, sometimes at the same time, such as in the Battle of Mobile Bay.

This is a scarce piece of Civil War headgear.  [sr][ph:L]

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