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Rare Confederate Red Painted Canvas Confederate Kepi – Id’d Battlefield Souvenir


Rare Confederate Red Painted Canvas Confederate Kepi – Id’d Battlefield Souvenir – This extremely rare painted, canvas Confederate kepi cap was apparently picked up, as a wartime souvenir, by Private Charles R. Clifton, Co. F, 46th Pa. Vol. Infantry; Clifton’s name is signed, in period ink, on a piece of paper attached to the inside crown of the cap; in addition, when we obtained the hat, it was accompanied by a quarter plate, tintype, housed in a somewhat battered Union case, depicting a Union enlisted man, wearing a four-button sack coat – scratched into the coating on the back of the tintype is the name: “C. R. Clifton”.

Painted cotton canvas kepis were manufactured prior to the Civil War. Perhaps, the most well known group wearing such kepis were the “Wide Awakes” – The Wide Awakes were a youth organization and, later, a paramilitary organization cultivated by the Republican Party during the 1860 presidential election in the United States. The use of this type of cap was to lend a perception of military bearing to the wearers. The painted canvas was utilized to repel inclement weather.

During the Civil War, some Confederate hat makers, both government and private entities, apparently manufactured some of these painted canvas caps; some rare examples of Richmond Depot painted canvas caps are extant. This hat, painted red throughout, remains in reasonably good condition. There are some minor weak areas in the canvas and a couple of small tear holes. The sweat band, hand sewn to the cap, is in good condition, although it does exhibit some period repairs, as well as two reinforcing, small decorative iron, star-headed tacks in the back area of the sweat band. The brim is constructed of the typical, Confederate, russet brown leather; it is rather thick and crudely cut and evidences considerable time exposed to the elements. The chinstrap is constructed of black, bridle leather and has a Virginia button on either side – these buttons are original sews and are firmly in place. The exterior base section of the cap appears to have traces of blue paint beneath the red, indicative of an initial blue or infantry designation, which was over-painted during the war, as the rest of the cap is entirely (and originally) red, with no under-painting. This is a rarely encountered hat and in great condition.