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PATTERN 1892 OFFICER’S UNDRESS UNIFORM COAT – IDENTIFIED TO A SECOND LIEUTENANT IN THE 7TH US CAVALRY REGIMENT AND GRADUATE OF WEST POINT – COAT MADE AT THE WEST POINT CADET STORE - EXCELLENT CONDITION w/ ORIGINAL SECOND LIEUTENANT SHOULDER STRAPS AND REGIMENTAL NUMERALS – A BEAUTIFUL SPECIMEN:  Introduced during a time when most army officers did not wear, much less own, a suit of civilian clothing, these Pattern 1892 Officer’s Undress Uniform Coats were intended to be worn, as stated in the regulations:  “…for fatigues, marches, squad and company drills, and other drills when a authorized by the commanding officer, and for ordinary wear….”.    

This Pattern 1892 Undress Uniform Coat was tailor made at the United States Military Academy Cadet Store at West Point, the provenance well documented on the maker’s tag sewn inside the left breast inside pocket.  This coat was made by an in-house tailor by the name of “Frank” for soon-to-be newly graduated and commissioned Second Lieutenant William G. Fitz-Gerald.  The label is dated June 5, 1892, just six days before Lt. Fitz-Gerald would exchange his cadet gray for regular army blue and assume his new duties in the famous 7TH United States Cavalry Regiment.    

As offered here, Lt. Fitz-Gerald’s Undress Uniform Coat presents as it must have when he endured the repeated fittings at the Cadet Store, and when he departed West Point to join his regiment.  There is not doubt that the Second Lieutenant shoulder straps and the silver bullion “7’s” on the collar are all original to the manufacture of this coat and not later additions to enhance an otherwise unadorned uniform.   

According to Heitmann’s Registry of the U.S. Army, Second Lieutenant William Gerald Fitz-Gerald, born in Ft. Edward, New York on April 3, 1870, entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1888.  He graduated on June 11, 1892, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 7TH U.S. Cavalry Regiment, and during that assignment he most certainly served with some of the veterans who had been present at both the Little Big Horn and later at Wounded Knee.  Fitz-Gerald resigned his commission on September 30, 1896, and apparently returned to New York where he lived until at the age of 56 he passed away in Manhattan on February 25, 1927.  His remains were returned to Ft. Edward, New York where he was interred there in the Union Cemetery.  As of this listing, I am still attempting to research the details of Fitz-Gerald’s life and any significant information will accompany the sale of this blouse.   

Similar in design to its predecessor, the Pattern 1872 Undress Uniform Coat, the Pattern 1892 incorporated a more severe appearance with a standing collar and a front secured with concealed hook and eye closures rather than buttons.  In addition to the shoulder straps designating the officer’s rank, regulations stipulated that the standing collar of the Pattern 1892 were to be decorated on each side of the throat opening with the numeral of the officer’s regiment, to be fashioned in “white metal” - in this case, silver bullion.  The Pattern 1892 Undress Coat continued to feature the mohair braid trimming highlighted with trefoils which terminated each end of the braid ornaments which created a distinctive appearance for the officer as he made his way through his daily routine. 

This 1892 Undress Coat (also referred to as a blouse) shows obvious signs of having been part of the lieutenant’s wardrobe, evidenced by the presence of the shoulder straps, the regimental numerals, and the tailor’s tag, but it was gently worn, properly stored, and has survived in excellent condition as an outstanding specimen of genuine Indian War era uniforming worn on the frontier.   

The coat presents in as close to “like new” condition as is possible, having been worn.  There is no mothing, wear spots, or damage of any kind.  The wool is very solid with no weak points, and no open seams.  There is no wear to the collar, cuffs, or bottom edge of the blouse - unusual to find on these original uniforms.  All of the paired hook and eye closures are intact down the front opening of the coat and at the throat.     

The coat is adorned with a very desirable, and quite rare, matched pair of the Officer's Pattern 1851 Shoulder Straps.  Introduced before the Civil War, this same pattern was worn by officers on their garrison and field uniforms through the end of the 19th Century, in the halls of the War Department and the parade fields of the frontier forts alike.  Normally found today separated from the officers’ uniforms, and more often than not as single pieces, finding a uniform coat with both straps in place is unusual in itself.  This pair is particularly nice, matched in every way, and as noted above, is no doubt original to this coat.  Measuring 4” long and 1 ½” wide, these straps are full form and have survived in excellent condition.   

Surrounding the yellow field, this pair of straps features the gilt metal borders rather than the embroidered bullion borders.  These metal borders were introduced during the Civil War and were recognized as being more substantial and durable for field service – a common sense choice for a young officer heading out west.  The gilt is still very bright, retaining all of the original glitter.  The cavalry yellow wool field on both straps is fully intact, showing no wear and retaining an even clean color.  Each strap features the wool field, clean and fully intact, and as is correct, the straps have no other badge of rank as is proper for a second lieutenant of the day.  The straps are full form and lay flat against the coat with none of the curling often found in these old straps.   

On each side of the throat opening are the regimental numeral “7’s” embroidered in silver bullion.  Both are full form, are firmly attached, and again based on the identification of this coat to Lt. Fitz-Gerald and his history, these numerals are no doubt original to the coat. 

The collar, front and bottom edges, the front and cuffs are all trimmed with the regulation black mohair braid.  The most notable decorations to the coat are the trefoils on the front of the coat, applied in pairs to the right and left of the coat opening.  (The trefoils were referred to in the regulations as “herring-bone loops”.)  As dictated in the regulations, each sleeve is decorated with “a knot of black braid…..on the upper part of the cuff”.  All of the mohair braid is fully intact, securely sewn with no loose spots, and in overall excellent condition with no fading or wear. 

The body of the coat is lined with black/dark green polished satin and the sleeves are lined with a white satin with blue stripes.  These linings are all in excellent condition with no wear or damage.   

The Pattern 1892 Undress Blouse was not long in service, being replaced only three years later by the Pattern 1895.  Due to the short service life, the day to day wear that these coats were subjected to, and that they were worn into the field, and then coupled with the limited number of officers in the army during this period, these coats are not particularly common.   

This is an excellent example of the Indian War Officer’s Pattern 1892 Undress Coat, with the combination of added values of being identified to an officer who graduated from West Point and who served in the renowned 7TH US Cavalry Regiment.  This is also the only piece of officer’s uniforming from the 19TH Century I have handled which is known to have been created in the tailor shop of the Cadet Store at West Point – a notable find in and of itself.  This is a very special officer’s coat which would be a “center piece” addition to your collection, and would be almost impossible to upgrade.  SOLD



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