The Cavalry Hat

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Agent_of_Empire, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Agent_of_Empire

    Agent_of_Empire New in Town

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    It's not a fedora and it has been around since before the Golden Age, but the Cavalry hat lives on. Most peple outside of the Cav community don't know much about the Stetson because it technically isn't written into any regulations. It is worn by Cavalry Scouts (19D) and Air Cavalry across the Army, and some Cavalry units allow all members to wear it (1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, etc.)

    It is called a Cav hat, or a Stetson (because so many are Stetsons)

    It's not something we are allowed to wear all the time. It's worn to Change of Commands (when a new commander takes over a unit), beer calls (a social gathering at the end of the duty day where we all go down to the O-Club and drink beer/socialize), dinings in and out, military balls, weddings, hails and farewells (worn in civilian clothes), etc.

    [​IMG]

    Your hat is not properly broken in until the first beer call when it is turned over and filled to the brim with beer. At that point, you have to down it all before it soaks through and you get extra points if you take it all in one go and don't come up for air. Well, there aren't really points you just won't be harassed as much. If you have a ball before a beer call, then you break your hat in with the grog (a far nastier compilation of alcohols). If you're an alcoholic, you do it at both.

    [​IMG]

    The crossed sabers are the branch insignia for the cavalry. In a cavalry division, many branches will put their own branch insignia above the crossed sabers (to distinguish them), or use their own branch insignia in the case of the infantry, artillery and MP corps. Only the Air Cav and the scouts keep just crossed sabers (which is not technically authorized; Air Cav falls under aviation and Cavalry Scouts are part of the Armor branch). Numbers above the crosed sabers are for your regiment. My 7 is for 1-7 (of Custer's fame). Rank is worn above the insignia. Unit crests are often placed on the back of the hat to pay homage to the units you have served in, as well as your current unit.

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    The acorns, originally said to help keep the Trooper awake by slapping the brim of his hat while he rode his horse, come in a variety of colors.
    Commisioned officers (Company Grade) wear the black and gold bands while Field Grade and higher wear a solid gold band, warrant officers (WO1-CW3) wear silver and black while CW4 and CW5 wear solid silver, and enlisted Troopers wear their respective branch colors.
    The yellow, most commonly seen, is the color of the Cavalry Scout.
    A knot is placed in the chord for each combat tour.

    [​IMG]

    Whenever you wear your Stetson, you can also wear your spurs. Silver spurs are earned on a spur ride, which varies from unit to unit. It can be anything from a test of endurance lasting several days, to a test of knowledge. Most units have a mix of the two. Golden spurs are earned in combat.

    The spur is turned upright on unmarried Soldiers and down when they are married. This is done, supposedly, as to be less painful to the wife (I will let you figure that one out)

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    Cav hats are not issued, it's something you pay for out of pocket - some units have sponsors pick them up for newer members of the unit but this is generally not the case. There is no allowance for it, just an investment in unit pride.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Viper Man

    Viper Man Banned

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    Stone City, IL
    While I can appreciate the tradition, I'm not really a big fan of hazing.
     
  3. Not-Bogart13

    Not-Bogart13 Call Me a Cab

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    Never had a good reason to wear one of those, but I always wanted one. Perhaps with a Dr. Pepper, though. lol
     
  4. Akubra Man

    Akubra Man One of the Regulars

    Is this the hat also referred to as the "slouch hat"?
     
  5. Agent_of_Empire

    Agent_of_Empire New in Town

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    No I have never heard it referred to as a slouch hat... Looked it up and seems like the early 20th century variety of campaign hat might have fallen into this category (the ones that look like a Drill Sergeant hat).

    We just call those campaign covers though - I have never been a Drill Sergeant
     
  6. DOUGLAS

    DOUGLAS My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Location:
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    Thanks for the info Agent of Empire. The Cavalry Hat is my favorite style of
    "Western Hat". I am not sure if the Cavalry Hat is a slouch hat. Dean would know if it is or not.
     
  7. Al_Ojeda

    Al_Ojeda Familiar Face

    Messages:
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    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    Hey, thanks for the info really interesting here maybe the most famous image with this hat, could you please tell us is this hat is a real copy or was modified , I see the crown is taller than what you are using now ??

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Agent_of_Empire

    Agent_of_Empire New in Town

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    Location:
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    It's not official headgear, so there is no set standard.

    My crown is not NEARLY that tall, but people also shape theirs differently. Back in the day different units had different standards for shaping - now it is individual preference.

    Those are some huge sabers too.

    In Vietnam the Air Cav brought back the Stetson - it was even more unofficial back then.

    Rank on the hat is a new addition (chord color was the old identifier with rank on collar).
     
  9. Lone_Ranger

    Lone_Ranger Practically Family

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    Location:
    Central, PA
    Yes. It can also be called a campaign hat. Though over the years 'campaign hat" has come to mean the Montana Peak style hat, and the term "slouch" hat now usually refers to the Australian style light horse hat where the one side is turned up.

    A feature of costume that appeared in this time period and represented a combined east-west American aesthetic was the slouch hat, reminiscent of the cowboy hat and Mexican sombrero.

    This hat, in contrast to the kepi, diverted from the European-inspired military style and projected a singularly American look. The term slouch hat came to be applied to variations of hats worn by the Confederate army although it would also come to be used by the Union army. The slouch hat looked something like a cowboy hat, with a brim that turned up in a concave gesture and wide enough to protect one from the elements. The average slouch hat’s brim width was about 3” with a crown height between 5” and 7”. They eventually could be found in many colors such as black, grey, tan, brown but the more popular were the hats made of medium brown or black felt and the cavalry officers would have them trimmed with gold cord while the enlisted men would use worsted cord for their trim.
     
  10. Fredthecat

    Fredthecat One of the Regulars

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    Thanks for the lesson.

    So....who makes them today, what is the quality and where can I buy one?
     
  11. Fredthecat

    Fredthecat One of the Regulars

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    And do they come in grey?
     
  12. alden405

    alden405 A-List Customer

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    Melbourne
    The hat cords are to show,corps,branh and rank.That keeping the soldier awake is incorrect.
    Regards
    Sam
    P.S also worth mention the term "Campaign Hat"
     
  13. Jabos

    Jabos A-List Customer

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    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Thank you for sharing that information Agent. What character-both the man and the hat.
     
  14. Lone_Ranger

    Lone_Ranger Practically Family

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    Location:
    Central, PA
    Light Gray, Slate Gray, & Graphite Gray. Silver Belly too, but that's more of an off-white.

    Stratton Hats makes them for police & sheriff departments. The "Sheriff" and the "Trooper" patterns, were both used for US Cavalry campaign (slouch) hats, at one time or another.

    http://www.strattonhats.com/uniform.html

    I believe the "sheriff" is patterned after the 1876 model campaign hat.

    The "trooper" was the 1883 version

    http://www.bar-w.com/campaign-hats.html

    The campaign hat (Montana Peak) came along in 1911. Which was replaced by the steel helmet for "field use" not long after. At which point, the garrison cap, and beret, came along, mostly because they were easier to carry, and store, when you were wearing the steel pot.
     
  15. Pat_H

    Pat_H A-List Customer

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    Location:
    Wyoming
    The Air Cav didn't so much as bring the Stetson back, as they did create the current tradition. When the 1st Air Cav introduced the hat, they were attempting to recall the black campaign hats of the Frontier Era U.S. Army. However, in doing that they were heavily influenced by the then current movie and television depictions of Frontier cavalrymen, which were inaccurate. Television and movies, with some exceptions, in that era relied upon a black cowboy hat with crossed saber pinned on, or more frequently a crossed sabers roundel sewn on.

    The actual Frontier era campaign hat is addressed here in a variety of other threads, and while it approximates the same appearance, it doesn't duplicate it. The Stetson, however, was an honest effort, and an honest effort to recall a Frontier Army heritage (although, at the time the Air Cav sought to recall that image, the last U.S. Army mounted unit had only been dismounted for about 19 years, the last Cav School mounted class had only been held about 17 years before that, and the last U.S. Army established equine unit had only stopped using their equines some 7 years prior, so the Frontier image was the only option, just the popular and best known one).

    A slight irony of the use of the hat is that the original campaign hats, if a person goes back to the Hardee hat, had been originally introduced with the intention of issuing them to mounted men, and one of the last uses of the campaign hat, prior to there temporarily being phased out, had also been with horse cavalry.

    Be that as it may, as noted, the "Stetson" is a current U.S. Army cavalry tradition, albeit an unofficial one. So it's a current cavalry tradition in its own right. I should note here that one current cavalry unit uses brown Stetsons, not black ones, but that's unique to that unit. I like the look of the hat, and I like that the tradition is preserved as well. And, heck, it's a more practical hat than the beret.

    As far as the term "slouch" hat and "campaign" hat, the term "campaign" hat was around in official and official use well back into the 1870s, I believe. Somebody else here can probably discuss that in greater detail. A "slouch" hat isn't entirely dissimilar, but seems to refer to a hat with a looser brim. I've seen references of that type, in current publications, referring to hats as far back as the Civil War, when many broad brimmed hats were worn, but I don't know if the term was used at that time. It's often used to refer to the Australian diggers campaign hat, which actually isn't unique to Australians, but which has been used by several other nations as well.
     
  16. Pat_H

    Pat_H A-List Customer

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    439
    Location:
    Wyoming
    The Montana Peak type hat isn't the first Army hat referred to as a campaign hat. Earlier models also were called that, and period references tended to call any broad brimmed hat used in the field as a campaign hat. Any U.S. Army broad brimmed hat from the 1870s on is a campaign hat. I realize you're not saying otherwise, I just thought I'd note that, given the commercial listings.

    The M1911 was adopted in that year. It wasn't replaced by the steel helmet, but the helmet came to supplant it. The hat was issued for field use up until at least 1940, but after that, it was withdrawn for most troops, carrying on only with cavalrymen and rifle teams. The last use, at that time, was with rifle teams, which carried on until either the late 1950s or early 1960s. The hat was then withdrawn, but the Marines reintroduced it for Drill Instructors. After the Marines did that, the Army reintroduced it for DIs as well.
     
  17. bbc1969

    bbc1969 Familiar Face

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I thought I would throw in a picture of my 1883 pattern w/snowflake vents. This came from F. Burgess.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Pat_H

    Pat_H A-List Customer

    Messages:
    439
    Location:
    Wyoming

    Also, fwiw, the Montana Peak type of hat came into unofficial Army use in the 1880s. It was a popular civilian style at that time, and it was quite common for soldiers to buy "campaign hats" that were not the Army issue hat. The civilian product was often a better hat, so they sometimes purchased their own.

    The hat gained popularity in style during the 1890s, and examples of it show up occasionally in photographs. They became increasingly common in the first decade of the 20th Century. By that time, the hat had also acquired an association with Canadians, as the style had been used by Canadian troops officially in the Boer War. Boer War use by Canadian troops caused the NWMP to adopt it as their style, which is now sometimes called the "Mountie". The Canadian pattern had its bashes in the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock spots, as opposed to the pattern that came to be used by the U.S. Army, but you can find some unofficial examples of that pattern in use by U.S. soldiers prior to 1911.

    FWIW, the Park Service campaign hat was adopted as that was the Army pattern at the time the Park Service took over from the Army in patrolling the parks. It's basically of the 1911 type.
     
  19. Fredthecat

    Fredthecat One of the Regulars

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    Location:
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    Thanks for this thread. Learning lots. Still lots to learn.

    Hey bbc1969,
    That’s a keeper…nice hat!

    Can you please post or PM more photos (including inside) of your “1883 pattern w/snowflake vents”?

    What are dimensions of brim and crown?

    How does one order that from F. Burgess & Co.?
    Do they have a catalog or do you have to go to NJ?
     
  20. jpbales

    jpbales Practically Family

    Messages:
    507
    Location:
    Georga, USA
    Very Interesting!

    I'm glad to see a comment I made sparked a thread with some good info! The first thing I thought was "is that in regulation??," but as a Marine I can value tradition- and heck, it's much better than the beret in my opinion anyway.Very cool.:eusa_clap
     

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