C. 1830s Early Coin Silver U.S. Dragoon Hat Insignia


C. 1830s Early Coin Silver U.S. Dragoon Hat Insignia – This set of early, U.S. Dragoon, coin silver, crossed sabers, hat insignia, is the second of this type we have had. We believe that they date to the 1830s. The sabers appear to be modeled after an early style of U.S. saber; the insignia is artfully constructed and decoratively engraved. On the back of the insignia are two, soldered, silver loops to aid in attachment to the soldier’s hat. Approval for the formation of the United States Dragoons occurred on March 2, 1833, by an Act of Congress, thereby disbanding the Battalion of Mounted Rangers. This latter unit became the “First Regiment of Dragoons” when the Second Dragoons was raised in 1836. Originally designated as United States Dragoons, U.S. cavalry traces its origin to the American Revolution. George Washington had observed the deployment of the small force of British 17th Light Dragoons, which panicked his militia infantry, at White Plains. Noting the ability of the horsemen in combat, Washington asked the Continental Congress to designate the formation of a light cavalry force to supplement the fledgling Continental army. On December 12, 1776, Congress authorized Washington to establish a mounted force of 3,000 men.

The “United States Regiment of Dragoons” was organized by Act of Congress approved March 2, 1833, but the unit was redesignated the “First Regiment of Dragoons” when the Second Dragoons was raised in 1836. Its designation was again changed to “First Regiment of Cavalry” by the Act of August 3, 1861. The first order, announcing appointments in the regiment, was dated March 5, 1833, and gave the names of the colonel, lieutenant-colonel, major, four captains and four lieutenants, stating that the organization of the regiment would be perfected by the selection of officers from the “Battalion of Rangers.” Headquarters were established at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.

Official or regulation US Dragoon insignia dates to at least 1808; initial iterations utilized cap letters on their 1808 pattern helmets. The letters first utilized appeared in two rows: “US / LD”. These first insignia letters were constructed of cast brass and measured 1.5” inches in height. For the 1812 and 1813 Pattern helmets, a cap plate with a dragoon mounted and slashing with a saber was the insignia prescribed. Dragoons returned to the regular military in 1833 and wore a Napoleonic style cap plate on their 1833 pattern shakos, essentially, a brass star with a silvered brass eagle affixed. With the advent of the 1839 forage or wheel cap, the dragoon officers wore a six pointed star on the front (1st and 2nd Dragoons), while the enlisted men continued with the Napoleonic eagle. With the introduction of the M1851 shako, the Dragoons were issued the shako with an orange lower band of wool, a company letter and the Hardee style eagle affixed to the front. The first requisite regulation for crossed sabers was prescribed in 1850, in a February order that officers would wear gold embroidered crossed sabers, “edges upward” with a silver regimental number above the intersection. Enlisted would display the same style, but in die struck brass with company letter above and regimental number below intersection. This set of silver sabers are seemingly examples of those purchased privately, by a well-to-do, Dragoon officer, some time at the onset of the Dragoon formation, in the 1830s.