Why is it called a forage cap?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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I am sure we have discussed this before, but why was it called a forage cap? I was wondering if any new forum members might have some information.

I believe it is a myth that the forage cap was so named because soldiers use it to carry forage in. I do understand that this is a common belief, but is there any information confirming this? I know that some supposed "expert" wrote an good article about this being a myth, but I am having problems finding the article.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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How about a forage cap being a fatigue cap worn while feeding your horses? I am not a horse "person' but it would seem like let a horse eat oats out of your cap would soon result with a damaged cap. Anyone who owns horses might have a view they can share about letting a horse eat oats or corn out of a cap.
 

huskerblitz

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How about a forage cap being a fatigue cap worn while feeding your horses? I am not a horse "person' but it would seem like let a horse eat oats out of your cap would soon result with a damaged cap. Anyone who owns horses might have a view they can share about letting a horse eat oats or corn out of a cap.
Shrug. My dad would let ours eat out of his cap. But then again Dad went through many caps. :bounce:
 

major bill

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I don't think it was a myth. I thought British cavalry were the designers of the cap for feeding their horses out of it. Isn't the kepi French?

In the US Army the term "forage cap" predates the US Army adoption of the kepi inspired cap and dates back to the leather forage caps worn before the Mexican American War. Would not a leather shako make just as good of a cap to feed your horse out of? You could also use a leather cap or shako to water your horse so the leather cap would seem like a better cap for mounted troops. Also a metal cavalry helmet would make a great headwear to feed and water one's horse with.
 

huskerblitz

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In the US Army the term "forage cap" predates the US Army adoption of the kepi inspired cap and dates back to the leather forage caps worn before the Mexican American War. Would not a leather shako make just as good of a cap to feed your horse out of? You could also use a leather cap or shako to water your horse so the leather cap would seem like a better cap for mounted troops. Also a metal cavalry helmet would make a great headwear to feed and water one's horse with.
Maybe. I figure that a shako would be to stiff to allow a horse to get his muzzle into easily.
 

Package4

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I am sure we have discussed this before, but why was it called a forage cap? I was wondering if any new forum members might have some information.

I believe it is a myth that the forage cap was so named because soldiers use it to carry forage in. I do understand that this is a common belief, but is there any information confirming this? I know that some supposed "expert" wrote an good article about this being a myth, but I am having problems finding the article.
It is my understanding that forage and fatigue were relatively interchangeable terms and that the cap was for fatigue duty. The forage cap's origination as far as can be determined was from the Utah Expedition where the 1851 shakos were beaten down and softened by the soldiers into what looked to be the later forage/fatigue cap. The article was later put up for consideration as the next fatigue cap for the US Army due to its cost and convenience, the army was looking for a new fatigue cap.

Langellier has a great write up on this very same topic and shows multiple picture of the Utah expedition. The only caps they had for fatigue at the time were the 1851 shakos, which had to be very difficult to wear continuously. By the end of the expedition, the soldiers had made the shakos quite comfortable. Look at the 1851 shako and take out the stiffened sides and it becomes the M1858 forage cap, complete with reeds and welting; the height being the main difference.
 

Package4

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IMG_0286 (2).JPG
 

Waterloo50

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It is my understanding that forage and fatigue were relatively interchangeable terms and that the cap was for fatigue duty. The forage cap's origination as far as can be determined was from the Utah Expedition where the 1851 shakos were beaten down and softened by the soldiers into what looked to be the later forage/fatigue cap. The article was later put up for consideration as the next fatigue cap for the US Army due to its cost and convenience, the army was looking for a new fatigue cap.

Langellier has a great write up on this very same topic and shows multiple picture of the Utah expedition. The only caps they had for fatigue at the time were the 1851 shakos, which had to be very difficult to wear continuously. By the end of the expedition, the soldiers had made the shakos quite comfortable. Look at the 1851 shako and take out the stiffened sides and it becomes the M1858 forage cap, complete with reeds and welting; the height being the main difference.
Spot on, Originally, forage caps were invented specifically for the cavalry, who had to spend considerable time gathering food for their horses – known as forage. The term became applied to all “undress” uniform caps. It wasn't practical for soldiers to forage with uncomfortable uniformed caps, they were to heavy and uncomfortable. Any cap that wasn't standard military issue was known as a 'Forage Cap'. During the Napoleonic wars soldiers had to pay for their own uniforms and they weren't cheap, it was far easier to purchase an old set of clothes 'fatigues' along with a cheap forage cap.
Napoleonic Forage cap, far more comfortable than standard cavalry issue head gear and easier to work in.
Forage_Cap-03-700x500.jpg
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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It is my understanding that forage and fatigue were relatively interchangeable terms and that the cap was for fatigue duty. The forage cap's origination as far as can be determined was from the Utah Expedition where the 1851 shakos were beaten down and softened by the soldiers into what looked to be the later forage/fatigue cap. The article was later put up for consideration as the next fatigue cap for the US Army due to its cost and convenience, the army was looking for a new fatigue cap.

Langellier has a great write up on this very same topic and shows multiple picture of the Utah expedition. The only caps they had for fatigue at the time were the 1851 shakos, which had to be very difficult to wear continuously. By the end of the expedition, the soldiers had made the shakos quite comfortable. Look at the 1851 shako and take out the stiffened sides and it becomes the M1858 forage cap, complete with reeds and welting; the height being the main difference.

However, I believe I have seen the 1825 pattern Chako (Pinwheel cap) called a forage cap in period documents. If so (I will look it up when I get home tonight), the the US Army use of the term "forage cap" predates the Utah Expedition by 25 years and a couple of differnt styles of issued cap
 

Package4

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However, I believe I have seen the 1825 pattern Chako (Pinwheel cap) called a forage cap in period documents. If so (I will look it up when I get home tonight), the the US Army use of the term "forage cap" predates the Utah Expedition by 25 years and a couple of differnt styles of issued cap
Completely agree, just commenting that the M1858 was derived from the 1851, thus the idea of horse forage is very doubtful, I may not have made myself very clear.
 

Package4

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As Waterloo suggests, many years ago, well before the ACW soft hats may have been used to feed cavalry horses and they became synonymous with the soft or fatigue cap. There is no evidence that their use in the ACW was for foraging, they were a replacement for the 1851 and later shako; the M1858 forage or fatigue cap.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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When the Army brought out the 1858 pattern forage cap we were more or less at peace. For ageing around Army posts would have been "offically" frowned upon. I find it hard to believe the Army name a cap for an act the Army did not want to encourage.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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We have had many new members join since 2017 and I thought perhaps some of our new forum members might have information on this subject. I still think the concept "forage cap" being so called because soldiers carried forage in it is little more than a myth. The term "forage cap" seems to have came from England, so to get to the bottom of the first use of the term, I need someone much more knowledgeable than I on English hat and caps and the names of these.
 

Package4

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Joined
Jul 28, 2015
We have had many new members join since 2017 and I thought perhaps some of our new forum members might have information on this subject. I still think the concept "forage cap" being so called because soldiers carried forage in it is little more than a myth. The term "forage cap" seems to have came from England, so to get to the bottom of the first use of the term, I need someone much more knowledgeable than I on English hat and caps and the names of these.
https://history.army.mil/LC/The Mission/Facts/uniforms.htm

I believe it was found to have originated with the French when they would annually cut a couple of triangles from their old uniforms and form a "bonnet de police". Check out the second link and read about the fatigue uniform of the infantryman Lewis & Clark expedition.

The British also cut triangles off their coat tails of old uniforms to form the forage or fatigue cap.
 
Joined
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Agreed the whole “forage cap is a bag for foraging” thing is a myth. That’s what your haversack is for!

Personally I quite like the 1839 style wheel forage cap, and the 1825 “chako” pinwheel is one of the nicer looking pieces of US headware.

I’m looking into buying myself a forage cap myself soon, I currently have just a kepi. I really like it but could use more variety in my headwear. Could someone do a quick break down of all the different styles of forage cap (Type 1 vs Type 2... also what’s the difference between the ‘58 and ‘61 model)?
 
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