Reference Items
McDowell Pattern Forage Cap

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An early war pattern McDowell forage cap with original cavalry insignia, this specimen is in very fine original condition and is a nice example of the headgear worn by Union cavalry troopers early in the Civil War. The characteristics typical of McDowell forage caps are especially evident here, with the back seam standing a full 7½” in height and 4½” at the front. The characteristic downward sloping visor is original and firmly attached to the cap, its tarred leather matches the chinstrap which is present and fully intact. The chinstrap has its original brass buckle and one keeper. The cap’s flat top is 5½” in diameter and is very fine. Sewn around the circular edge of the top is a welt of the same fabric formed by a 1/16" diameter reed. Original to the cap are the regulation cavalry insignia including crossed sabers and the regimental "4” with company I device. The brass on the insignia is untouched with a deep mellow patina.

Following the design of the French kepi, this forage cap is based on the US Model 1858 pattern and is made of what appears to be a high grade wool/cotton blend fabric, dark blue. The cap interior liner is gone, but still present is its original Russian leather sweatband, 1⅛” in width and showing some use.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-161

Officer's forage cap

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Union Forage Cap known as the McDowell pattern after Union General Irvin McDowell. This is an officer’s grade cap with tarred leather sloping visor, stitched at the brim. This hat stands very tall, exceeding 6” at the rear seam and 4¼” from brim to crown at its front. The chinstrap has a brass buckle and one keeper with infantry eagle buttons on both sides. The chinstrap and visor are both tarred.

Made of fine woven wool, its original blue color has faded to a russet tan, indicating the use of the inferior logwood dye in place of the more stable indigo dye in the fabric. An embroidered infantry device is stitched on the front and a Masonic device rests on the crown. Both are original to the hat. 100% of the polished cotton liner remains, quilted at the top. Complete sweatband is present and leather is very supple. This cap is in very fine condition.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-131

M1858 Forage Cap - Cavalry

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Union Model 1858 Forage Cap, aka Bummer's Cap. Fine condition with flat visor, 1/8" thickness. No apparent mothing. Fabric is fine wool and very dark blue with no fading. The crown of the cap is adorned with crossed sabers and regimental and company devices which are correct Civil War issue but added to the hat. The tarred leather chinstrap which terminates at two eagle buttons is original with a black leather bill firmly attached to cap. 100% of the polished cotton lining remains and the cardboard stiffener is still inside the crown of the hat.  The sweatband is complete and is made of a supple brown Russian leather with burlap stiffener behind.  Maker’s label inside cap reads: M & G, No. 4, N.Y.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-127

Slouch Hat - Captain Rufus W. Smith

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Cavalry Officer’s slouch hat identified to Capt. Rufus W. Smith, a member of the California Battalion who fought under the flag of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry during the Civil War. The 2nd Mass. was active in pursuit of John Mosby throughout the hills of Virginia and eventually saw much action in the Eastern Theatre. This slouch hat is in fine condition with minor mothing on crown. The felt is thick and supple with wide red Russian leather interior band, brittle but original to the hat. Black cotton cockade fastener to ostrich plume with woven acorns on hat chord. Cavalry insignia sewn on front with silver "2" for 2nd Mass. Identified with period ink on inside of band, to Capt. R.W.Smith, being Rufus W. Smith whose military records accompany the hat.

Captain Smith was mortally wounded leading his cavalry company on a charge at Cedar Creek, Va. in 1864 at the approximate age of 30. Originally from Maine, Smith was a member of the California Light Guard when in San Francisco, and resigned to join Captain Eigenbrodt's Company E of the California Battalion. After the death of J. Sewall Reed, founding officer and captain of the storied Cal 100, Captain Smith was appointed to succeed Reed. Captain Smith was mortally wounded during a saber charge against Confederate infantry at Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864. For more information on the Californians in the war, visit the excellent website hosted by Earl Robinson at

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-122

Officer's Hardee Hat

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Artillery officer's Hardee hat. This is an impressive and high quality hat, entirely complete and in excellent condition, nearly identical in manufacture to the specimen photographed in the Time-Life reference book on the Civil War, pg 105.

The hat has the stiff oval officer's Hardee Hat insignia on its right side, a crossed cannon artillery device embroidered and sewn under a regimental "3". Excellent hat cord with large braided acorns plus a lush officer's grade pair of ostrich plumes in outstanding condition, affixed by black silk cockade with Eagle "A" button at center. The sweatband is 2 3/4" wide burgundy Morocco leather with gold embossed upper edge, very supple and in exceptional condition. Felt is very fine and soft; the ribbon trim on brim is approximately 1/4" wide. This hat belonged to Major John S. Stevenson who mustered into Company A of the Naval Artillery, Pennsylvania Volunteers, eventually the 3rd Regiment Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery. After serving heavy guns at Fort Delaware and other fortifications Stevenson was given command of vessels that patrolled the river systems below Richmond. He was captured by Rebel guerrillas and sent to Libby Prison in 1863, but received his release later that year and returned to service. He is mentioned in the Official Records has having command of a four-boat flotilla which included gunboats in an excursion against Rebel shipping on the Chickahomony River. Stevenson mustered out in July of 1865, whereupon he returned to his wife and family in Pennsylvania.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-117

M1858 Dress Hat - Infantry Version

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Model 1858 Dress Hat Infantry version. This is a Civil War Dress Hat which is commonly known as a Hardee Hat.  It is fully dressed and in near mint condition. It is a classic example of the hat issued according to regulations adopted by the U.S. Army in 1858 and eventually made famous by the Iron Brigade. This unworn hat is in minty condition with a perfect sweatband and label in the crown. Label shows U.S.Army over Eagle with Extra Manufacture over 7 and No.3.

There is some aging of the felt but no separations or tears and stitching around the brim is 75% intact. The brim is turned up on the left side per army regulations for foot troops with original "Jeff Davis" eagle fastener. Front bears an Infantry device as well as a blue infantry hat cord and single plume ostrich feather fastened by ferrule style stitching below the hat cord. Both brass devices are looped and held in place by leather tongs.

The Hardee Hat was adopted for all branches of service in 1858 by then Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. They saw service early during the Civil War, but did not bear up to the rigors of warfare and were soon replaced by the more popular kepis and slouch hats.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-110

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