U.S. Model 1854 Dragoon Shako



U.S. Model 1854 Dragoon Shako – This example of a rare, pre-Civil War headgear is constructed of a pasteboard body, covered with a dark blue, fine quality wool; according to the revamped, Army regulations of 1854, the band immediately above the visor is blue, with colored piping, indicative of the branch of service, in this instance –  orange for Dragoons – bordering above the dark blue band; the pompom is dragoon orange, as well. Per regulations, a Hardee eagle is affixed to the brass, pompom stems; a company letter “B” is attached to the front of the shako. The original leather chinstrap with its brass adjuster buckle is present, with general service, Eagle cuff buttons holding the chinstrap to the body of the shako. The unbound, leather visor remains in fine condition, as does the interior, brown, cotton lining and wide, leather sweatband that has a blue, cotton drawstring; the original size label – “7” – remains in place, pasted to the interior of the crown. This is a rarely encountered antebellum, regulation, U.S. Army hat, remaining in excellent condition. The crown is approximately 7.3/4″ high and the top is 5.1/2″ in diameter. NEW MEXICO LIVING HIST

New Mexico Living History Foundation:


Development of United States Army Uniforms in the 1850s

The style of Union uniforms during the Civil War dates to changes that began in the early 1850s. To understand these developments, we first have to consider the uniforms in use during the 1840s. At that time the army had three uniforms: a full dress uniform, a winter fatigue uniform, and a summer fatigue uniform. The first two uniforms were of wool, and the last was of white (natural) cotton. By the end of the 1840s the uniforms were showing their age (the dress uniform consisted of a tail coat and had a heavy shako), and were considered to be too tight fitting and uncomfortable. In 1851 a new uniform was prescribed, following current French fashions, consisting of a dark blue frock coat, sky blue trousers, and a dark blue cloth covered shako. The branch of service was indicated by colored collars, cuffs, and epaulettes on the coat; a colored band and pompom on the shako; and a colored welt on the trousers (note the trouser welt was the same for all ranks). The trim colors were also changed to what would be common by the Civil War: Infantry, sky blue (dark blue on the trousers); Artillery, red; Dragoons, orange; etc. In 1854, the shako had the colored band replaced with a dark blue one, the top edge of the band being piped with the trim color.