Pre-Civil War or Early War Period Virginia Forage Cap or Kepi, with Canteen and Letters
Pre-Civil War or Early War Period Virginia Forage Cap or Kepi, with Canteen and Letters – This fine quality pre-Civil War or early war, Virginia kepi remains in overall very good condition. The kepi, found in Appomattox County, Virginia, is constructed of a dark blue wool, trimmed in two bands of yellow, worsted, wool piping (we are not sure if this is indicative of a mounted branch of service); its chinstrap, constructed of black painted leather, is affixed to the cap by two Virginia staff buttons – close examination of the interior of the cap reveals that both buttons are original sews. The sizing keepers of the chinstrap are constructed of black painted, cotton canvas. The cap’s brim is black, patent leather and is bound. The interior of the cap is lined in a black or dark brown polished cotton, which is complete, although torn in one area, while separated from beneath the sweatband in another. The sweatband is about 60% complete; when we obtained the cap, we discovered a section of a war period, Richmond newspaper, dated 1860, folded beneath the forehead area of the sweatband (note the picture showing the newspaper, folded beneath the sweatband, as we discovered it – for conservation reasons, we pulled the paper out and unfolded it); this piece of newspaper, when unfolded, exhibits distinct and obvious sweat staining. Beneath the entire sweatband is the oft-found, mid-19th century, hat stiffener, cotton buckram. When we obtained this kepi, it was accompanied by a pre-Civil War, Southern style, tin drum canteen, in superior condition; this canteen, the more diminutive style, evidences the desired flat on one side, convex on the other side configuration seen in war period, Confederate, tin drum canteens. Through the sling guides on the canteen is a period, black leather strap, with its original, period roller buckle. Also in the cap when we obtained it, were two war period letters, written by a Confederate soldier, named “Taz”, to his girlfriend, “Amelia”; one letter was written from Culpeper Courthouse in 1862, while the other was written from Floyd Courthouse in 1864. We are working on further research to try to determine who “Taz” was; we assume that he was a Virginian, perhaps with the first name of Tazwell. Both letters have seemingly no real war content, but are written as adoringly, gushing, Victorian, love letters. This is a fine, Virginia grouping, featuring two pre-war or early war, scarce elements. There were several, pre-war and early war, Virginia units that had blue kepis or forage caps; a number of years ago, we sold a great, dark blue kepi, that had the name of a Sussex (Virginia) Light Dragoon soldier clearly written inside the sweatband. Note the three period images of two pre-war members of the Petersburg Grays, the period image of three members of the Sussex Light Dragoons and the artistic rendering of three other members of the Sussex Light Dragoons.