"Whicker bill" caps? "Austrian hats"?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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A member of the 11th Illinois Infantry (three month) described there caps on 21 July 1861 as " these caps are made so the circular top instead of dropping forward stand straight up. An Irish boy in our company called his a 'whicker bill' with the accent of the bill, so that is the name adoptee."

I have not seen the term "wicker bill" before and I am not sure what the term means.

The same soldier later while in the 11th Illinois Infantry (three year) wrote on 11 October 1861 "Drew new hats, we don't like the, they are grey with the sides turned up so the can be buttoned to the crown on each side , with a kind of beak in front. Austrian hats the call them." what kind of hat does he reference here?

These 'Austrian hats' did not last long. "24 October; We bought red caps to wear instead of those Austrian hats." Why would an infantry regiment purchase red caps, is not red usually for artillery units?
 

Don Dixon

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In referring to the hats as "Austrian" hats the soldier may have been describing something like the attached WWI k.u.k. Army Alpine troops hat. Many European armies have used similar hats for field or fatigue wear.

k.u.k. Alpine Troops Cap.jpg
 

Lampasas Bill

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Red may have been the color for artillery trim, but it was not used on regulation caps, which were untrimmed for all branches. To my knowledge, unless it was some odd early-war affectation by an individualistic Union artillery battery, red caps were never worn by Northern units (except, of course, some Zouaves). Possibly the 11th Illinois had dealings with a fast-talking sutler with a large supply of red caps that he otherwise couldn't get rid of.
 

major bill

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Yes I brought this up some time ago but we have many new forum members who I thought might have some insight. I was never fully satisfied with the answer. Austrian army hats did not button up on two sides but only one side. Austrian hats do not really form some type of beak.
 

Trooper "D"

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May 20, 2018
Yes I brought this up some time ago but we have many new forum members who I thought might have some insight. I was never fully satisfied with the answer. Austrian army hats did not button up on two sides but only one side. Austrian hats do not really form some type of beak.
These sound like those helmet looking things worn by some units.
 

FedericoFCavada

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Loomis or Herzog type hat, perhaps? Certainly the Austro-Hungarian armed forces formerly wore round hats with an extra-long brim that could be fastened up on one or another side, fitted with a pom-pom, cockade, or other regimental insignia/ frippery. For that matter, so too did Sweden before the silly spiked-top pickelhaube was briefly used, followed by a rather short kepi/shako-type hat.

No one will ever tell you this, but I will: The so-called "hog killer" folding leather shako or Model 1833 forage cap comes from a Scandinavian leather cap... No one who writes about military head gear has gotten the link yet.

As for "whicker bill" as just one word... Um, *ahem*, it is a reference to a particular part of the male reproductive anatomy and not really the stuff of polite conversation or perhaps even this public thread... But know that "whickerbill" can allude to a particular part of the male regenerative organ, and so the term might be a rather bawdy and coarse term for the hat in question somewhat akin to the derogatory word "**** cutter" for the old service cap or side cap...
 

Trooper "D"

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I think you're talking about "Whipple Caps" which have been discussed frequently here in the forums; here's a photo from my collection showing a soldier from the 25th Wisconsin wearing one:

View attachment 408771
Is the one that kind of looks like a stelhelm from WWI when the sideflaps are down? My books are in shelves behind my amps and guitars or in boxes and I'm not up to moving all those things around. My disability is really flared up right now and everything hurts. I'm normally not lazy.
 

James N.

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Is the one that kind of looks like a stelhelm from WWI when the sideflaps are down? My books are in shelves behind my amps and guitars or in boxes and I'm not up to moving all those things around. My disability is really flared up right now and everything hurts. I'm normally not lazy.
There are at least a couple of versions of the stupid things: one looks more like a standard forage cap with a brim like a slouch hat attached to the back 2/3rds of it and having a floppy top; the other is a little more like what you describe though there are NO "sideflaps". I think what Corporal Yakey is wearing in my photo of him is more like the first variety.
 

FedericoFCavada

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Glad the reference to the, erm, Bris milah and the name of the hat that originated this thread got to stay...

Here's some of the variants. And while these are, indeed, very silly hats, I find them somehow less "stupid" than the forage cap or kepi insofar as there was at least an attempt to tailor the headgear to the vagaries of weather changes and so on...

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-whipple-hat-thread.167625/
 
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