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PATTERN 1883 5 BUTTON ENLISTED MAN’S BLOUSES OR UNIFORM COATS – EXCELLENT “LIKE NEW” SPECIMENS:  Examples of the Indian Wars era original 5 button US Army Blouses are not particularly common, and those that have survived in the condition of the two offered here are almost nonexistent.  Due to the environments in which they were worn, and the relatively few which did survive were later poorly stored, finding any of the blouses in decent condition is notable.  In the case of these two blouses, one is in “like new” unissued condition and the other while obviously issued, could not have been worn on more than a few occasions.  These two are genuinely the cream of the crop when it comes to Indian War era blouses. 

Due to the several changes in pattern and features to which the standard blouse was subjected in a short, three year period – 1883-1886 – several features ordered in the earlier pattern such as button or pocket placement bled over into subsequent patterns.  This was the result of the Quartermaster’s efforts to exhaust the quantities of existing stocks of clothing before producing a newer pattern.  Where possible, the new changes ordered for the blouses were incorporated in those currently in the manufacturing pipeline or those which had not yet been issued.   

In the best of circumstances, there were no distinct lines of demarcation in the issue or use of any of the clothing, weapons, or equipment during the Indian War era, as is documented in period photographs.  Driven by limited finances and huge stocks of material left over from the Civil War, the army made every effort to use up any stocks in inventory prior to even manufacturing new material, much less issuing it.  So when the army came to the point of manufacturing new uniforms such as these five button blouses, and the pattern changed as often as it did from 1883-1886, it is no surprise that some combinations of features of the different patterns is often encountered in surviving examples of these Indian War period uniforms.  This characteristic is well documented and described in John Langellier’s More Army Blue – The Uniform of Uncle Sam’s Regulars 1874-1887 (both of these volumes are highly recommended).   

Both of these two blouses most closely follow the Pattern 1883, with the addition of the cuff buttons as ordered in 1886, but without the three exterior pockets as ordered in 1884.  That both blouses are regulation and the products of the regular army clothing supply system, there can be no doubt, as both are heavily marked with Quartermaster Depot ink stamps which include the place of manufacture, the date of manufacture and the inspector’s identification.  That all of these ink stamps survive is further testimony to the lack of wear to which they were subjected, as these ink stamps were prone to fade or wash away with only minimal wear when subjected to the body heat and perspiration of the soldier.  

This brings us to the most notable historic feature of these blouses.  As evidenced by the Quartermaster Department (QMD) ink stamps in the sleeves of the two blouses, both were manufactured in the early 1900’s – one in 1906 and the other in 1908 – and were issued out of the Jeffersonville QMD Depot confirming that these blouses continued to be worn by the regular army after the turn of the century.  If further evidence is needed, the photograph below shows a company of cavalry preparing to ship out to the Philippine Islands in 1900.   I contacted John Langellier regarding these heretofore unseen late dates on these blouses and he remarked that such documentation that the blouses were made at such a late date was not only rare, but a valuable link in the history of the U.S. Army’s blue wool uniform. 

Examples of Indian Wars era Enlisted Man’s Blouses are not particularly common, and specimens in this excellent condition are virtually nonexistent on the market.  In addition,  these two have the added historic and empirical value of bearing the scarce early 20TH Century Quartermaster and inspector ink stamps.   These are superb examples of the desirable Indian War Enlisted Man’s Blouse worn by the men who wrote the history during the last years of the Western Frontier, in the tropics of Cuba, and on through the jungles of the Philippines, and either one would be very special addition to your collection.  

Each coat is listed below with a detailed description and accompanying photographs.

NOTE:  To say that photographing dark blue wool is a challenge is an understatement.  Its closer to a nightmare.  In normal lighting, it appears black and none of the finer features or condition details can be seen clearly.  In order to highlight the features and provide you with an accurate view of the material, I have to lighten the contrast of the photograph which in turn causes the even colored dark blue wool to appear faded or discolored when such is not the case.  These blouses are even dark blue color as is seen in background wool surrounding the close up photographs of the cuff buttons.  Trust that you will not be disappointed in these blouses. 

 

no. 1   PATTERN 1883 5 BUTTON ENLISTED MAN’S BLOUSE – EXCELLENT “LIKE NEW” SPECIMEN:  There is no indication that this blouse was ever worn or issued, and it shows no wear whatsoever, presenting in “like new” condition.  The blouse  is ink stamped on the lining of one sleeve with the depot stamp which is dated “1906-1907”.   If I had to guess, I suspect the two year span indicated on the stamp represent the fiscal year, rather than the calendar year, in which this coat was manufactured. 

On the lining of the other sleeve is the stamp identifying the inspecting officer, First Lieutenant Robert McCandlass Beck, Jr.  Beck graduated from West Point in the Class of 1901, had a long and varied career and retired at the rank of major general.  At the time his stamp was affixed to this blouse, he was indeed assigned to the 12TH U.S. Cavalry Regiment which was in service along the Mexican Border and in the Philippine Islands during the period of use of this blouse. 

As stated above, there is no sign of wear or damage on this blouse, presenting in excellent condition.  The lining of the body and the sleeves is fully intact, both the inspector and QMD stamps are fully legible, and all of the original buttons are present.  SOLD  Please see additional listing below

 

no. 2  PATTERN 1883 5 BUTTON ENLISTED MAN’S BLOUSE – EXCELLENT “LIKE NEW” SPECIMEN:  While this blouse was apparently issued and worn, it still presents in “like new” condition. The only indication that it was worn is some slight sweat staining to the sleeve lining on the lower curve of each of the arm holes.  As the QMD stamps are still present and fully legible in the sleeve, the blouse could not have been worn more than a few times.   

This blouse is ink stamped on the lining of one sleeve with the depot stamp, which is then over stamped with the inspecting officer’s information.  The inspector’s stamp is somewhat light in the middle of the last name, but I was able to locate him in Heitman’s Historical Register.  Captain Kensey John Hampton is listed as a captain, assistant quartermaster of volunteers, in May of 1900 and in April of 1903 he received an appointment to the regular army.  The other sleeve has a ink stamp sizing identifier, and the right hand inside breast pocket has a tag sewn in the interior which bears the Jeffersonville 1908 ink stamp and another inspector’s name.   

Other than the light sweat staining as described above, there is no sign of wear or damage on this blouse, and it presents in excellent condition.  The lining of the body and the sleeves is fully intact, all of the inspector, QMD, size and depot stamps are fully legible, and all of the original buttons are present.  (0403)  $975

 
 
 
 
 
 

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