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PATTERN 1879 UNIFORM GREAT COAT DETACHABLE LINED CAPE – FAIRLY SCARCE INDIAN WAR UNIFORM ITEM:  True veterans of the Frontier Indian Wars Army, these are original Pattern 1879 Detachable Lined Capes for the Enlisted Man’s Overcoat, also known during the period as a Greatcoat.    

The cape, a feature of US Army overcoats from the antebellum period, continued with this pattern, however as introduced in some of the earlier post-Civil War patterns, this cape attached under the collar of the overcoat with a series of hook and eyes which permitted the soldier to remove the cape when the additional warmth and protection was not required. 

As scarce as these detachable capes are, and as easily has they became separated from the greatcoats, I have been able to obtain two examples, and each is listed below with accompanying photographs.

 

No. 1  PATTERN 1879 UNIFORM GREAT COAT DETACHABLE LINED CAPE:  As detailed in General Order No. 76, published July 23, 1879, this cape is lined with dark blue wool shirting or flannel, indicating it was issued to a soldier in the Infantry, as the color of the lining was consistent with the color of the particular arm of the service to which the soldier was assigned – red for Artillery, yellow for Cavalry, and so on.    

This cape is in excellent, "like new" condition, retaining its shape and body, all of the US Army General Service buttons are present on the front of the cape, and all are original.  All of the eyes that attach the cape to the coat are present and intact.  The dark blue lining is fully intact, and like the exterior shows no wear or damage.  The material is in excellent condition, being neither rotted nor torn, nor showing any soiling, stains or fading and there is no mothing nor any other damage -  in fact, the cape shows no signs of ever having been issued or worn.  The wool still retains the “live”, soft feeling and those of you familiar with old wool know that this old material often has a “hardened” texture to the surface. 

Any Quartermaster Depot or contractor’s ink stamps would be applied to the lining of the overcoat sleeves, so the absence of any stamps on this cape is normal and expected.    

This overcoat cape is as good a specimen as can be found, and one that would never have to be upgraded.  Not a piece that is not commonly encountered on the loose to complete your overcoat display.   (0204) $475

 

No. 2  PATTERN 1879 UNIFORM GREAT COAT DETACHABLE LINED CAPE:  As detailed in General Order No. 76, published July 23, 1879, this cape is lined with dark blue wool shirting or flannel, indicating it was issued to a soldier in the Infantry, as the color of the lining was consistent with the color of the particular arm of the service to which the soldier was assigned – red for Artillery, yellow for Cavalry, and so on.    

This cape presents very well, still retains its shape and body, all of the buttons are present on the front of the cape, and all are original.  All of the eyes that attach the cape to the coat are present and intact.  The material is in very good to excellent condition, being neither rotted nor torn, nor showing any severe soiling, stains or fading.  The wool still retains the “live”, soft feeling and those of you familiar with old wool know that this old material often has a “hardened” texture to the surface.  There are two small moth holes on the right rear section where the cape would rest on the right side of the soldier’s back, and they would not be visible when the cape was displayed.   All of the seams and stitching is intact and the cape is not fragile in any way.  The one notable sign of wear is somewhat puzzling.  The lining is fashioned in three sections in order to accommodate the curve of the cape as it hangs on the soldier – one across the back and one on each side of the front.  For whatever reason, at some point the rear section of the lining was removed and it was very neatly done.  While there is no way of knowing, two possible reasons occur to me.  First, the soldier needed some dark blue wool to repair or fashion a piece of clothing for which there was no authorized issue or appropriation.  Or, the soldier felt the additional layer in the rear of the cape was unnecessary weight and warmth that he could live without.  In either case, or for any other purpose, by removing just the rear section the lining on the front sections which would show when the cape front was open and the front sections were flipped back over the shoulders, the absence of the rear section of lining would pass unnoticed by the company first sergeant.  Commonly any Quartermaster Depot or contractor’s ink stamps would be applied to the lining of the overcoat sleeves, so the absence of any stamps on this cape is normal and expected.    

This overcoat cape is a very attractive specimen and is a piece that is not commonly encountered on the loose to complete your overcoat display. (0610) $375

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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