- Feb 5, 2017
Ah! Havelocks! A hallmark of the American Civil War in 1861 and then tossed aside, rarely to be seen again—until the 125th re-enactment of the First Battle of Bull Run. After that, rarely. In case …
A reproduction havelock
Havelocks were never popular with many of the rank and file. They appeared in 1861 and were rarely seen after that. If the sun was an issue, most Union soldiers preferred to wear a slouch hat, a Hardee hat, or just not worry about getting their neck sunburned. Although havelocks were successfully used in other countries, although loved ones made them, although theories about neck coverings were based on substantial experience and SCIENCE, the camps were soon littered with discarded havelocks. The havelock was supposed to protect men fighting in hot climates from sunstroke. Still, Union and Confederate men complained that wearing a havelock made them hotter by not allowing air to circulate around their heads and necks. Many Civil War soldiers used their havelocks not as cap covers, but as coffee filters, dishcloths, or gun patches. This reaction was similar, I think, to today’s kerfuffle over wearing face masks. Luckily no one was fined or punished for being “havelockless.” It was a matter of choice.