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Kepi vs bummer

Discussion in 'Reenactors Forum' started by Taji04, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Taji04

    Taji04 Cadet

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    I am new to the forum and am looking into reenacting. To that end I have this question: As I look for headgear, I have noticed that both the kepi and the forage cap were both worn by enlisted soldiers. I understand that the kepi was a privately purchased item, but how prevalent was the kepi? Was it widely used? And which version of the forage cap was used the most?Really open-ended, I know, so I am not expecting precise info, just an idea. I am looking into a Wisconsin or Minnesota unit. (I assume that the use and availability of each type varied from unit to unit as well as the time period portrayed.) Thank you in advance for your input!
     

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  3. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    If you are doing Western Federal forget either and go with a Tim Bender Hardee.

    If you are going AoP get a Forage Cap.

    Final answer is look at the unit you plan to portray and see what they were issued.
    If doing US the Kepi isn't really that appropriate past a private purchase item, some Zouves or a couple specific units that ended up w/ them.

    I own a Forage Cap & a Tim Bender... I am almost never seen w/ the Forage Cap.
     
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  4. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

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    What Herr Steele says.... If portaying the Army of the Tennessee, Army of the Cumberland, or Army of the Ohio, definitely a Hardee (more correctly a Dress Hat)... keep it untrimmed, and either keep it as is or shape to taste, including telescoping it. Rice C. Bull, of the 123d NYSV makes comment about how the Western troops chided the 11th and 12th Corps when the joined the AotC about their "little caps" (the forage caps they wore, coming from the AoP). While there are images of Western troops wearing forage caps, often in the same images of men wearing hats, the number of hats far out paces the number of caps. And not just dress hats, but also many forms of civilian hats were adopted by the Western troops. It really comes down to the unit, time, and place... and practicality.. hat is so much more effective against the sun and rain then a cap is. :D
     
  5. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    If you want drop me a PM, I know quite a few people in the MN/Wi area who do US as well as some fine gents doing CS.
     
  6. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

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    “This Army looked quite unlike our own that had originally been part of the Army of the Potomac. They all wore large hats instead of caps; were carelessly dressed, both officers and men; and marched in a very irregular way, seemingly not caring to keep well closed up and in regular order. These were faults in marching which we had been taught to avoid. They could be excused for their loose marching, however, as they had just made a 300 mile movement on the way to join Grant. We found their boast was that they "put on no style." They were a large fine type of men, all westerners; it was easy to see that at any serious time they would close up and be there. As they passed by we viewed their line and a good deal of friendly chaffing was done. They expressed their opinion that we were tin soldiers. “Oh, look at their little caps. Where are your paper collars? Oh how clean they look, do you have any soap?” And so on. We took it good naturedly. They came to know and respect us latter on, after the first battle, where we stood in line together. As the war went on we had no better friends than the men in those two Corps that were with Sherman’s army in the Atlanta Campaign, the March to the Sea, and on until we finally parted after the Grand Review of that Army in Washington.”

    Rice C. Bull, 123rd New York
     
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  7. 101combatvet

    101combatvet 1st Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    Referring to the original title of the thread... the kepi was generally worn by officers but enlistedmen also wore them. Within the enlisted ranks mounted troops preferred the kepi over the bummers cap because the later would catch the wind and flop around a bit. Not to mention the kepi kept it's shape much better.
     
  8. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

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    I would honestly be very interested in the documentation of kepis in mounted arms over forage caps. Most extent images I have seen of Federal Cavalry Enlisted, especially Eastern, show forage caps, with most of the Kepis belonging to officers. Not trying to be a PIB, just very curious about your statement.
     
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  9. Craig L Barry

    Craig L Barry First Sergeant

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    Not to hi-jack the thread but do you know what's interesting? Try to find a period reference to the US 1858 Army hat as a "Hardee hat." They are called "black hats," "tall hats," etc. No one is quite sure when the name "Hardee" was first used to describe it, but "Hardee" does not appear to be a period term for the 1858 Army hat. For one thing, Hardee was on the 1855 committee formed to come up with a new Cavalry hat back when Jefferson Davis was the Secretary of War. The 1855 Cavalry hat was similar but not the same as the 1858 design. When they got around to re-designing the US Army hat in 1858 neither man was involved any longer. Floyd was Secretary of War by then and another future Confederate General (AP Hill) was on the 1858 committee, but we don't call the resulting hat design a "Hill-hat," do we?

    The US 1858 cap was what was called the forage cap or bummer. These were common in the AoP but not as much out West. Not very much protection from the elements. The US 1858 Army hat though...different story. The plumes, pins and cords came off, and the Army hat was shaped in a dozen different ways to suit the individual whims of the man. Very widely used. Great image of Sherman's men outside of Atlanta, six of the seven have on a US 1858 Army hat, but no two of them are wearing it exactly the same way and none are wearing it as it was issued.
     
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  10. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

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    Hence why i put the words.Dress Hat in my post sir :smile:
     
  11. Taji04

    Taji04 Cadet

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    Thank you gentlemen, you have been most helpful. If there is any more to say on the subject, I am all ears. It looks like I will be doing more research :D, and shopping. I have not decided what direction to go as to unit (have to wait to retire from Reserves), but as I narrow it down, I am sure that I will have many more questions.
     
  12. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    There are several excellent Wisconsin units, the Iron Brigade being well represented. Minnesota has several good Infantry units as well as several outstanding Arty units. Good Luck
     
  13. Evan

    Evan First Sergeant Forum Host

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    I don't believe you are in the REAL Great White North...
     
  14. Craig L Barry

    Craig L Barry First Sergeant

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    Another fine point, it was never officially called the"Dress Hat" by the US Army, but that was the net effect because of the simultaneous issuance of the forage cap. Note the following from US Army Headgear 1855 to 1902 by Edgar Howell:

    "In this connection, however, it must be remembered that although the (1858 Army) hat was originally adopted for both fatigue and dress—as the frock coat had been in 1851. The subsequent adoption of the forage cap and sack coat or fatigue blouse in November of 1858 (before the hat went into general issue), for all intents and purposes relegated it to a near dress-wear status."
     
  15. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave First Sergeant

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    kepi and a shell is a sharp yankee outfit. throw in a cav great coat and a fine knapsack...:smile coffee:
     
  16. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

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    Sharp shouldnt be the goal.... accurate to unit/time/place should be the goal....
     
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  17. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave First Sergeant

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    You have never looked at photos of them and thought "that is one sharp outfit" I am only trying to be authentic.
     
  18. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

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    Dont get me wrong..... I agree that it can be a sharp look. One of the things I like about one of the units i do is the fatigue uniform of blue shell jacket trimmed in white, sky blue trousers with a wide white stripe, or white trousers in the summer, and a blue kepi with a bit of silver braid around the band. The Dress uniform is in my avatar. My intention is that a sharp look should not be the goal, but determining what th unit wore, historically, or what was PEC for the time and place, ex. ANV in 62, or Longstreet's Corps at Chickamauga, or Military Division of the Mississippi during the Atlanta Campaign or March to the Sea/Carolinas Campaign. For example, even though its a sharp look, I would never dream of wearing a 1850-Dec 1861 Republican Blues fatigue uniform for a Kennesaw Mountain or Battle of Atlanta scenario.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Taji04

    Taji04 Cadet

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    Thanks, Johan. I am leaning toward one of the the Iron Brigade regiments which means one of those "**** black hats". More options. Not a bad place to be, methinks.
     
  20. Taji04

    Taji04 Cadet

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    Evan, for us here in the US, it's about as Great White North as we can get!

    I hear that it got down to a -43F in Winnepeg last night.....we only got down to a -20 F.
     
  21. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave First Sergeant

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    ...making sure i dont have anything on my uniform...
     

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