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Soldiers in the Civil War wore many different types of hats. Some different types of civil war hats were the kepi, slouch, and forage cap. Many places still sell these hats to reenactors and collectors.
Online stores sometimes have more vintage civil war hats for sale that look more authentic. These are more expensive than the fake ones, but if you are a collector they are the only way to go.
Hats are one thing we think of whenever imagining the Civil War era. When you think of Abraham Lincoln, you probably think of Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat that you see him wearing in his travels.
One thing to keep in mind is that although hats had to match their uniform colors, material shortages and damage to their own hats meant many wore whatever hat they could find.
The kepi is the one that you see when you look at most enlisted men in the Civil War armies. Slouch hats and forage hats were also worn in the heat of battle. Hardee hats were the ceremonial “dress” hats standard with the Union army.
Civil War Period Hats
Hats worn in the Civil War were usually made of wool or jean wool. Confederate hat brims were often made of tarred cloth to conserve leather for shoes and other clothes: especially toward the middle of the war.
A slouch hat would be great to wear in a reenactors outfit. They come up often in Civil War photos of the period. These wide-brimmed hats could be bent and contorted to anyone’s liking.
Generals, infantry, cavalry, artillery, and naval forces had their own hats. Different colors are what indicated the division of the army you were in. There were also brass emblems on a few hats to show the rank of the soldier.
Headgear was important to let a soldier keep his eyes, face, and neck safe from the sun.
Who Wore the Kepi Hat
One of the most popular hats was the Civil war kepi hat. It was standard on both sides and the hat rests in the imagination when people think back on the Civil War. Enlisted men commonly had these or the forage hat.
There are many original hats still available complete with battle damage and insignia. The color on the hat represented your army division and went as follows
- Red represented artillery.
- Yellow meant cavalry.
- Light or sky blue meant infantry.
Officers also wore the “Austrian” knot or braid n their kepi to show their rank. It’s actually
worn all over the world in different occupations
- It was lightweight
- It was comfortable
- Readily available since it was a standard issue in the Union and Confederacy
- The sunken crowned kepis were notorious for collecting rain
Civil War Hardee Hat
If you’re a re-enactor trying to portray a cavalry officer, then you need a Civil War cavalry hat known as a “Hardee” hat. This hat is sometimes referred to as the Jeff Davis hat as well.
It was named after William J. Hardee: a Commandant of Cadets at West Point from 1856 to 1860 and a career officer in the U.S army from 1838 until his resignation on Jan. 31, 1861. The Hardee hat was the regulation dress hat for men in the Union Army.
In wartime, it was really just meant for cavalry due to the disadvantages listed below:
Many disadvantages :
- The black felt was considered too hot for many. Most soldiers preferred the forage or kepi hat as cooler options
- It was too heavy for continued use
- The Hardee didn’t fit well as others like the forage or kepi hat
- It wasn’t attractive-looking to soldiers either
A unique feature of this hat was it was to be pinned up on the right side to denote cavalrymen and artillerymen and left to identify infantry. The U.S. Army required the hat to have a brass hat device and a wool hat cord that signified the brand of service of the wearer.
- Sky blue: infantry
- Scarlett: artillery
- Gold: cavalry
It was unpopular enough to get phased out in 1872
Civil War slouch hats were another cowboy hat like the Hardee hat above, but with a more popular appeal to infantrymen.
A Hungarian patriot named Louis Kossuth brought this hat to the states. A “slouch” hat was a generic negative term used for most southern hats of the Civil War period. It was meant for many hats of differing types of crowns and brim widths and assorted colors.
The most popular hat of its kind is the beehive. It was a hat only worn in the war and practically vanished after it was over. The beehive hat had some perks:
- It was less time-consuming to produce allowing hatters to easily meet demand
- The brim could be fashionably rolled to prevent one’s vision from getting obscured
- England was able to import them to meet the large demand
One interesting tidbit about this hat is its distinct affiliation with the Civil War. The kepi and forage hats had many European influences in their design, but not the beehive slouch hat. It was one of the only hats to be considered All-American in its influence.
The Civil War Navy Hat
Yes, there was a Navy during the Civil War. How else could the troops get transported to areas of the seceded states only accessible by water? Like Fort Sumter ,for example, where the whole war got started. They were responsible for carrying out the blockade of all Confederate ports to all southern traveling ships.
Members of the Navy liked to keep their head, neck, and face out of the sun. Hats were a very important item of clothing to them too. The sailor cap is round and without a visor. It also has a black inscribed ribbon, called a tally, tied around it with the ship’s name or the navy they belong to. It is a common hat worn by many country’s navies.
Where Can You Buy Civil War Hats?
Now you might want to know where to buy Civil War hats and I got you covered here. Various places sell these for reenactments and costumes. The Civil War soldier is a popular Halloween costume. Kepis are sold and don’t cost a lot on sites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and others.
A company called C&C Sutlery has some good quality forage and kepi hats that are great for the Civil War reenactor’s uniform. They are pricier for the fact they customize products to fit you. They are awesome when it comes to offering up vintage civil war hats that would please even the pickiest enthusiasts.
They have brass emblems, numbers, and letters if you want to represent a certain unit of the war. Really cool.
So when you want to look for whose having an American Civil War hat sale there are many places to look.
Civil War Hats Varied Greatly According To Your Division
There is not just one main Civil War hat worn during the war. You learned that there were many different hats the brave men wore fighting for the Union and Confederacy. Some hats were more useful in different circumstances.
The Hardee hat was meant for cavalry officers. For infantry and artillery, it was probably just used in parades and more ceremonious occasions. It was considered too hot by many and had other disadvantages we went into. The forage, slouch, and kepi hats kept the head cooler.
You could envision a Confederacy Army that is underequipped using whatever hat was available on their domes. The Union probably had a stricter dress code and the kepi and forage hat was what they wore regardless. One thing is for sure: the hat was a very important piece of clothing for protection from the blistering sun on both sides of the war.
The Hardee hat, also known as the Model 1858 Dress Hat and sometimes nicknamed the "Jeff Davis", was the regulation dress hat for enlisted men in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The Hardee hat was also worn by Confederate soldiers.What hats did Confederate soldiers wear? ›
Confederate headgear was to be the chasseur cap, or "kepi", a French military cap. Often broad felt or straw hats or even slouch hats were worn instead. The Federal Army style forage cap was also popular.What did Civil War hats look like? ›
Kepi hats - Kepi hats were one of the standard issue hats for all privates in both the Union and the Confederate armies. These wool hats came with a short, black brim and a slightly tipped forward indented top. This indentation displayed a noticeable circle in the fabric, which was canted towards the forehead.Why was the kepi hat not popular with Confederate soldiers? ›
The kepi was shorter than the forage cap, and was not very popular because it did not protect from the rain or sun.What are War hats called? ›
Beret. The military beret hat is a soft, sloping cap with material gathered to one side. It can be made of felt, wool, cotton, or acrylics.Who was the most brutal general in the Civil War? ›
Ambrose Burnside. Burnside's failures are some of the most infamous of the conflict, and some consider him one of the worst Civil War generals on both sides of the conflict.Who wore red hats in the Civil War? ›
Corps badges were originally worn by Union soldiers on the top of their army forage cap (kepi), left side of the hat, or over their left breast. The idea is attributed to Gen. Philip Kearny who ordered his men to sew a two-inch square of red cloth on their hats to avoid confusion on the battlefield.What color did the South wear in the Civil War? ›
Because the United States (Union) regulation color was already dark blue, the Confederates chose gray. However, soldiers were often at a loss to determine which side of the war a soldier was on by his uniform. With a shortage of regulation uniforms in the Confederacy, many southern recruits just wore clothes from home.What was the nickname for the Confederates? ›
In the actual armed conflicts of the Civil War, the two sides had numerous nicknames for themselves and each other as a group and individuals, e.g., for Union troops "Federals" and for the Confederates "rebels," "rebs" or "Johnny reb" for an individual Confederate soldier.What color was the band on hats worn by soldiers in the artillery? ›
In addition to badge insignia, the different branches of service were differentiated by coloured puggarees or wide bands around the base of the crown (blue and red for artillery, khaki and green for mounted rifles, khaki and red for infantry, blue for engineers, yellow for Pay Corps, khaki and white for Army Service ...
The Victorian hat was an ordinary bush felt hat turned up on the right side. The intention of turning up the right side of the hat was to ensure it would not be caught during the drill movement of “shoulder arms” from “order arms”.Are there still Civil War reenactments? ›
Focused events try to recreate parts of battles. Living histories take place at the actual battlefield by invitation from the National Park Service. The hobby of Civil War reenacting continues to attract participants and spectators who care about Civil War history and the 19th century people who lived it.Do French police still wear kepi? ›
French customs officers (douaniers) and the Gendarmerie still wear kepis for ceremonial duty. Customs officers wear a baseball style cap for ordinary duties (since 1994 with many variations) while the Gendarmerie introduced a "soft kepi" in the early 2000s.Who wears the kepi blanc? ›
The white kepi is worn by ordinary legionnaires for guard duty, military ceremonies, or as part of their walking out uniform. Officers and non-commissioned officers wear a black kepi, as well as senior corporals (Caporal-chefs) with more than 17.5 years of service and a CT1 (Certificat technique) qualification.What does kepi stand for? ›
|KEPI||Kenya Expanded Programme on Immunization (Kenya Ministry of Health)|
A shako (/ˈʃækoʊ/, /ˈʃeɪkoʊ/, or /ˈʃɑːkoʊ/) is a tall, cylindrical military cap, usually with a visor, and sometimes tapered at the top. It is usually adorned with an ornamental plate or badge on the front, metallic or otherwise; and often has a feather, plume (see hackle) or pompom attached at the top.What does a fishing hook on a hat mean? ›
Hooks in hats in most cultures are a symbol of Well being and prosperity . gold and silver hooks are usually used by seasoned fishermen to provide good luck or to symbolize that they are very successful or avid fishermen.Why are military hats tilted? ›
Why are campaign hats worn with a forward tilt (troopers, drill sergeants, etc.)? The forward tilt is known as “at the scowl" as told to me by a British Airborne Royal Engineer. He used to teach new recruits so I gather it is meant to be intimidating to those junior to them.Who was the coward general in the Civil War? ›
|General Braxton Bragg|
|Allegiance||United States Confederate States|
|Service/branch||United States Army Confederate States Army|
|Years of service||1837–1856 (USA) 1861–1865 (CSA)|
|Rank||Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel (USA) General (CSA)|
Anderson (c. 1840 – October 26, 1864), known by the nickname "Bloody Bill" Anderson, was an American soldier who was one of the deadliest and most notorious Confederate guerrilla leaders in the American Civil War.
Lincoln was president during the Civil War, with his election being cited by southern states as one of the reasons for their succession. Lincoln's two terms in office saw the Union defeat the Confederacy and the abolition of slavery in the United States.
The soldiers of the Union Army wore blue uniforms and the soldiers of the Confederate Army wore gray. Today, that's how many people remember the two sides—the North wore blue, and the South wore gray.Did the South wear red in the Civil War? ›
You've probably heard of the blue and the grey when people refer to the civil war sides. The Northern Union armies wore navy blue and the Southern Confederate armies wore grey. However, the uniforms weren't exactly "uniform" at the start of the war.What color did Southern soldiers wear? ›
The Confederate states wanted to keep slavery and to limit the role of the federal government in state government. The Confederate soldiers wore gray uniforms, and the Union army wore blue uniforms. This led to the war being referred to as the “Blues vs.
Instead, the three gold stars he wore every day in Confederate uniform were the equivalent of his last rank in the Union Army, a colonel, despite being named one of the Confederacy's first five general officers.What was the North and South called in the Civil War? ›
During the American Civil War, the Union, also known as the North, referred to the United States led by President Abraham Lincoln. It was opposed by the secessionist Confederate States of America (CSA), informally called "the Confederacy" or "the South."What was the North called in the Civil War? ›
Union: Also called the North or the United States, the Union was the portion of the country that remained loyal to the Federal government during the Civil War.What did Lincoln call the Civil War? ›
Abraham Lincoln and most northerners initially referred to a civil war or an insurrection but quickly adopted “Rebellion,” which stressed the goal of preserv- ing the Union and stigmatized secession.Who was the youngest boy to fight in the Civil War? ›
The youngest soldier to fight in the Civil War was a boy named Edward Black. Edward was born on May 30 in 1853, making him just 8 years old when he joined the Union army on July 24, 1861, as a drummer boy for the 21st Indiana volunteers.Who was the aggressor in the Civil War? ›
Southern leaders of the Civil War period placed the blame for the outbreak of fighting squarely on Lincoln. They accused the President of acting aggressively towards the South and of deliberately provoking war in order to overthrow the Confederacy.
In addition to badge insignia, the different branches of service were differentiated by coloured puggarees or wide bands around the base of the crown (blue and red for artillery, khaki and green for mounted rifles, khaki and red for infantry, blue for engineers, yellow for Pay Corps, khaki and white for Army Service ...What was the standard issue gear for a Union soldier? ›
Every Union Infantryman wore a belt set with a cartridge box and sling, cap box, and bayonet scabbard. The leather cartridge box held forty cartridges, paper tubes filled with a Minie ball and black powder issued in small packs of ten.Why do Australian hats have one side up? ›
The Victorian hat was an ordinary bush felt hat turned up on the right side. The intention of turning up the right side of the hat was to ensure it would not be caught during the drill movement of “shoulder arms” from “order arms”.What city was burned at the end of the Civil War? ›
On November 15, 1864, United States forces led by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman burned nearly all of the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. This event occurred near the end of the U.S. Civil War during which 11 states in the American South seceded from the rest of the nation.
The forward tilt is known as “at the scowl" as told to me by a British Airborne Royal Engineer. He used to teach new recruits so I gather it is meant to be intimidating to those junior to them.Why do state troopers wear cowboy hats? ›
One of the benefits cowboy hats will provide officers is protection from the sun and inclement weather, as they are often exposed to the elements while out on patrol. In the summer, officers will wear hats made of palm leaf straw to keep them cool.What does the blue disc on drill sergeant hat? ›
Infantry Soldiers wear an infantry blue disc under the seal. Drill sergeants first wore this hat in 1964 as a way of distinguishing themselves from those whom they were charged with transforming into Soldiers. It has been their proud symbol ever since.What was the average age of a soldier in the Civil War? ›
What was the average soldier's age? The average Union soldier was 25.8 years old; there is no definite information on the average age of Confederate soldiers, but by the end of the war old men and young boys, who otherwise would have stayed home, were being pressed into service.What was the nickname for the Confederates? ›
In the actual armed conflicts of the Civil War, the two sides had numerous nicknames for themselves and each other as a group and individuals, e.g., for Union troops "Federals" and for the Confederates "rebels," "rebs" or "Johnny reb" for an individual Confederate soldier.What was the most common rifle in the Civil War? ›
Springfield Model 1861 Rifle
This was the most popular gun during the Civil War. The Springfield was a . 58 caliber with a 40-inch long barrel. It was loaded through the tip of the barrel with gun powder to shoot a Minié ball.
Today, the headdress is worn by the five foot guard regiments of the British Army (Grenadier, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Coldstream), officers of fusilier regiments, the Scots Dragoon Guards and members of the Honourable Artillery Company.Why do Australian hats have corks? ›
Movement of the head causes the corks to swing, discouraging insects, particularly bush flies, from swarming around the wearer's head, or entering the nose or mouth.What is a drill sergeant hat called? ›
#1: It Is Called A Campaign Hat
The Drill Sergeant hat is called a Campaign Hat. It is a felt hat with a broad brim. The hat has a tall crown and is symmetrically pinched on all 4 corners. The campaign hat was first worn back in the 1840s by soldiers making their way across the country toward the Pacific.
Sherman listened to their pleas to save the homes and then ordered one of his division commanders, Gen. Henry Slocum, to refrain from burning them.Why did Sherman not burn Savannah? ›
Secondly, it is alleged that Savannah was spared because the city was too beautiful to burn. Thirdly, some stories forward the notion that a mason rode out to ask for leniency knowing that Sherman was a member of that brotherhood, too. Another theory is that a deal had already been struck and approved by Sherman.Why did the North destroy the South? ›
The central cause of the war was the dispute over whether slavery would be permitted to expand into the western territories, leading to more slave states, or be prevented from doing so, which was widely believed would place slavery on a course of ultimate extinction.