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CAVALRY SERGEANT’S ca. 1898 TROPICAL UNIFORM BLOUSE – OF THE STYLE WORN BY VOLUNTEER CAVALRY UNITS  - AN INTERESTING UNIFORM BLOUSE IN EXCELLENT CONDITION:   This ca. 1898 Khaki Uniform Blouse bears the chevrons of a cavalry sergeant, and is styled in the manner of a man who’s years of service has taught him the importance of comfort and functionality of his uniforms while serving in the tropics.  Varying from the regulation 1898 Khaki Uniform with its close fitting, standing collar, this khaki blouse features a looser fit and flaring skirt to accommodate sitting a horse, and a more practical open falling collar.  The cut is more generous than the regulation uniform, likely to ease the fit when worn over one of the wool field shirts of the period.  Such a uniform blouse is the type that was probably worn by senior soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the volunteer units such as the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, otherwise known to history as “The Rough Riders".     

Just prior to the start of the Spanish American War, the army adopted the khaki colored, cotton blouses with the issue of General Order No. 39 on May 9, 1898.  The standard issue uniforms provided to the regular army soldiers were ordered to be trimmed with the color of the branch of service (G.O. 51, May 23, 1898), however the volunteer units purchased their uniforms from civilian suppliers, and although adhering to the khaki cotton material, the volunteers’ uniforms such as this one varied considerably from the regulation pattern.       

Overall, the blouse is in excellent condition with no open seams and no evidence of abuse or significant damage to the material.  It does show evidence of having been worn, presumably in the tropics, but it shows none of the characteristic fading which followed prolonged exposure to the tropical sun and repeated laundering – including the possibility of being washed in salt water during the ship board transit to and from Cuba.  (For those of you who have never been treated to the joy of wearing salt water washed clothing aboard a ship when fresh water rationing is in force – well, you’ve been denied one of the more or less subtle tortures life has to offer.)   

The color of the khaki is overall consistent and still retains a rich color throughout.  The fabric of the blouse is in overall very strong, excellent condition with no fraying or wear points.  The collar, cuffs and all four pockets are full form and none of the edges or seams show any significant wear or damage.  Most notable is the complete absence of any of the rust stains which are so common to these khaki uniforms.  Rather, the khaki is clean throughout.   

The front of the blouse, the cuff straps, and the four pocket flaps are closed with the standard issue uniform eagle buttons – all present and each securely sewn.  Both sleeves bear the correct cavalry sergeant’s chevrons.  Both chevrons are in excellent condition, with no fading which is consistent with the khaki material, and no significant wear, still retaining a bright, vibrant yellow color.   The blouse retains the original khaki belt, full form and in excellent condition, with the matching eagle button intact.   

Given the short duration of the Spanish American War and the limited number of cavalry soldiers who were in service during the conflict, and considering that their uniforms were subjected to the severe use and wear of combat in a tropical environment, it is remarkable that this blouse survived at all.  That it survived in this condition is truly notable.  Further reducing the likelihood of survival was the common practice of issuing new uniforms to troops returning from the tropics and requiring that their old uniforms be burned to prevent the introduction and spread of disease within the continental United States.  Case in point, upon the return of the Rough Riders, they were held in quarantine on Long Island, New York for 30 days to prevent the introduction of just such contagions.   

Introduced as our army was deployed to far away lands and subjected to the sweltering tropical heat, this ca. 1898 Cavalry Sergeant’s Khaki Uniform Blouse shows some evidence of overseas service, but nonetheless, it has survived in very nice condition.   Material associated with the US Volunteer Cavalry continues to hold the interest of the collecting community as some of the most iconic military units in our nation’s history.  This offering is a rare opportunity to acquire a cavalryman’s uniform coat of the type that might very well have been worn by an NCO in such units as Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, and it will be a particularly nice addition to a Spanish American War display. SOLD



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