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The Peaked or Visor Cap


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Just to catch up with this thread_

ROUND PEAKED CAPS

The Wiki Article is correct about the early nineteenth century date for the appearance of the round forage cap as military dress. Essentially a form of the round bonnet that became common throughout Europe in the 16th century, it persisted in Germany as the mutze and was adopted by student societies in Germany where, by this time with a leather peak and decorated with society colours, it was known as the 'kappi'. When these bodies became the focus of national resistance to France after Prussia's defeat at Jena in 1806, it became identified as an item of military clothing. German influence was strong in Russia which led to the adoption of a peakless forage cap- hence 'furashka'- for Russia soldiers. The peaked form became popular headgear for the Prussian Landwehr in the latter years of the Napoleonic war and clearly by Waterloo it was undress wear for Prussian officers. Russian officers had adopted a peaked furashka sometime before that.

A round bonnet had begun began to supersede earlier forms of undress and watering cap for the British army after introduction of the shako. This may have reflected the influence of German emigres and Hanoverian troops serving with British forces. By 1815 the round bonnet predominated. The peaked version seems to have been adopted by officers a little later and lasted till the round pill box version was adopted in the 1840s. The Kilmarnock 'pork-pie' adopted for soldiers around that time was a round bonnet but of different construction to the German 'mutze' form which remained in Prussian/German use until the end of WW1. By that stage, the peaked round cap was becoming a fairly universal form of uniform headgear for military and civilian use. (The French of course ploughed their own furrow).

THE SEVEN YEARS WAR

The light infantry caps in the Embleton illustrations for Osprey are made from cut-down cocked hats with the brims re-modelled into a 'button-up' fall to create a hood when necessary. These was first ordered by Lord George Howe who, with his brother was a pioneer of light infantry tactics in America and later it was a recommended form of forage cap in Cuthbertson's "Management of an Infantry Battalion" from the 1770s, to be made of old coats, and it may have been one of the models of forage cap used by the British in the last quarter of the 18th century. [sEE BELOW]. The French also experimented during this period with forage caps that had falling 'hoods.'

TORIN CAPS

This form was first introduced into the British Army as a Field Service cap for the Foot Guards in 1852 and saw service in the Crimean war and seems to have been used by the Guards as working head dress until the introduction of Service Dress, etc.

Why the version for staff officers introduced in 1883 was dubbed the 'Torin' is a source of much head scratching. I am fairly sure that I read somewhere that it was named after the officer who 'designed' it- it was hardly original but I guess drawings had to be made. However, as I can't find the reference, this will have to remain a tantalising speculation (Torin is an Irish surname by the way).

The form first appeared in 1812 as a new holtzmutze - 'wood bonnet'- for the Austrian army. Originally made of old coats it was white with facing-coloured piping on the welts . Later in mid-century, by which time it was known as lagermutze- 'camp bonnet, it was trouser-coloured, which meant blue for the infantry. Later cavalry adopted it with a chin strap. It's a moot point whether the form was an Austrian invention, since British infantry were wearing something very similar though made of much lighter wool, as early as 1803. It was superseded in Austro-Hungarian service by the feldkappe with the buttoning ear-flaps, which in its peakless form inspired the 1896 F.S. cap- 'Austrian model' - although both 'Torin' and 'F.S.' were 'Austrian', really. It was adapted by the forces of Nazi Germany in un-peaked and also peaked forms- for instance, by the Afrika Corps and the Gebirges Jagern. By the end of WWII, it had become the generic field/undress headgear for German soldiers. The 'Torin' form is still worn as side-cap by a few British regiments (Duke of Lancs; & ?) while the lagerkappe form inspired the pilotka of the former Soviet bloc and can still be seen in the traditional headgear of Serbian forces.

FINALLY-

A query that I hope is not a quibble.

"The "Forage Cap for Field Service" replaced the glengarry in 1874 for other ranks"-

Was the Glengarry not superseded for other than Scottish regiments by the F.S. Cap- Austrian model- around 1896? This period comes in and out of focus for me and just as I think I have grip it goes all blurry again.

Glad to get that off my chest.

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jf42,

first of all an excellent contribution to the thread, and welcome to GMIC.

the "Forage Cap for Active Service and Peace Manoeuvres" for infantry of the line is described in the 1894 DRs as being " Blue cap of the Austrian pattern similar in shape to that worn by non-commissioned officers and men, and with trimmings of regimental pattern." The Glengarry is specified for Scottish Regiments but not for the HLI, the Royal Scots Fusiliers nor the Scottish Rifles.

So it would appear that the Glengarry was replaced by the FSC by at least 1894 and that officers were catching up with the NCOs and ORs.

The 1874 DRs specify the "Glengarry for kilted regiments only in place of the Forage Cap" but, of course, this is for officers only. I don't have any information on ORs, perhaps Clive could expand on the date of 1874.

Stuart

Edited by Stuart Bates
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Clive,

I took a peek at your site - excellent. Why does the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada have a variant of the tails?

Stuart

It shouldn't be shown as it pre-dates the scope of the site - I've just been too lazy to remove it. Of the 30+ contemporary photos of the QOR I cannot find a single instance of this cap in wear although I do have a 'standard' Glengarry as well as a common FSC. The search continues.

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jf42,

first of all an excellent contribution to the thread, and welcome to GMIC.

the "Forage Cap for Active Service and Peace Manoeuvres" for infantry of the line is described in the 1894 DRs as being " Blue cap of the Austrian pattern similar in shape to that worn by non-commissioned officers and men, and with trimmings of regimental pattern." The Glengarry is specified for Scottish Regiments but not for the HLI, the Royal Scots Fusiliers nor the Scottish Rifles.

So it would appear that the Glengarry was replaced by the FSC by at least 1894 and that officers were catching up with the NCOs and ORs.

The 1874 DRs specify the "Glengarry for kilted regiments only in place of the Forage Cap" but, of course, this is for officers only. I don't have any information on ORs, perhaps Clive could expand on the date of 1874.

Stuart

Stuart,

This is my understanding also. As to the date I shall have to wade through 3-4 file drawers in the hopes of uncovering additional information.

jf42

Thanks for your post. It is interesting, and valuable, to to understand the origins of these things.

Clive

Edited by servicepub
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jf42,

first of all an excellent contribution to the thread, and welcome to GMIC.

the "Forage Cap for Active Service and Peace Manoeuvres" for infantry of the line is described in the 1894 DRs as being " Blue cap of the Austrian pattern similar in shape to that worn by non-commissioned officers and men, and with trimmings of regimental pattern." The Glengarry is specified for Scottish Regiments but not for the HLI, the Royal Scots Fusiliers nor the Scottish Rifles.

So it would appear that the Glengarry was replaced by the FSC by at least 1894 and that officers were catching up with the NCOs and ORs.

The 1874 DRs specify the "Glengarry for kilted regiments only in place of the Forage Cap" but, of course, this is for officers only. I don't have any information on ORs, perhaps Clive could expand on the date of 1874.

Stuart

Greetings- I'm glad some of that was interesting.

Regarding the second half of the 19th century, I have a general framework that I have kept in my head (rather like kings and queens date charts) since the days before I started looking at primary sources:

After about 60 years of informal use the Glengarry bonnet was recognised for most Scottish corps in 1852 and adopted for the army at large sometime between 1868 and 1874. Meanwhile, the Guards Field Service cap had also been introduced in 1852. The "Torin" version of that cap introduced in 1877 (Barthorp in 'British Infantry Uniforms' 1982) - initially for staff officers, I believe- was recognised in 1883 - (Barthorp says 1885,)- and both of these continued in use parallel with the Field Service cap after that was introduced in 1894 to replace the glengarry for all other than the Scottish infantry. With the introduction of Service Dress in 1902, topped off by the khaki serge peaked cap in 1905, both forms of side cap were restricted to regimental use, while the glengarry remained as the Service Dress headgear for Scottish infantry.

I should very much like to refine that framework. How much of it holds water now?

It seems to me that my sense of vagueness stems from the fact that the secondary sources on which I cut my teeth often failed to distinguish between regulations that applied to officers and those that had broader application and between those records that announced a change and regulations that were recognising a state of affairs that already existed and that I wasn't aware of the difference.

I meant to say before, very interesting photos, by the way.

JF

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Clive

A very well presented site, thanks for the link. In the past I have had a number of Torrin caps but have had trouble identifying the Regiment concerned, particularly unbadged examples. Have you ever come across a published reference for these caps? Or is it a case of trying to identify them using Regimental colours?

Simon

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Simon,

you might get something from British Army Uniforms & Insignia of World War Two by Brian L. Davis. It contains several tables outlining headgear colours/piping etc. the largest being that for the Field Service Cap. I guess that I am suggesting that the colours would have been the same for the Torin.

An interesting sidebar is that at the end of that table he specifies the "Torin or 'Austrian cap' Pattern" for -

  • 4th/7th Dragoon Guards
  • Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
  • The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Stuart

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Clive

A very well presented site, thanks for the link. In the past I have had a number of Torrin caps but have had trouble identifying the Regiment concerned, particularly unbadged examples. Have you ever come across a published reference for these caps? Or is it a case of trying to identify them using Regimental colours?

Simon

Most regimental descriptions are lacking in Dress Regs, although the Corps are described, and you would have to delve through Regimental Orders - with no guarantee of success. There are a limited number of colours used in military uniforms with scarlet, blue, white, Rifle Green, yellow and gold being the most predominate. Unfortunately, the permutations are almost endless. Sometimes you can relate the colours used on a Torin cap, or the later CFSC, by comparing to the approved (later) coloured Service Forage cap. My site (thanks for the compliment) is limited to WWII Canadian Coloured Field Service caps and I have at least 6 unidentified caps in my collection which are not listed in the 1943 War Dress regulations which lists all of the approved patterns.

Clive

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Simon,

you might get something from British Army Uniforms & Insignia of World War Two by Brian L. Davis. It contains several tables outlining headgear colours/piping etc. the largest being that for the Field Service Cap. I guess that I am suggesting that the colours would have been the same for the Torin.

An interesting sidebar is that at the end of that table he specifies the "Torin or 'Austrian cap' Pattern" for -

  • 4th/7th Dragoon Guards
  • Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
  • The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Stuart

Some of Davis' identifications are incorrect so care must be taken when using this reference.

Yes, there are several Regiments which still wear the Torin - the Adjutant having missed the order abolishing this cap in favour of the FSC.

Clive

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Clive,

which of Davis' identifications are incorrect?

Stuart

The errors are not major but when one uses a book for a reference then the details become important. An example is that he describes the WWII CFSC for the Army Dental Corps as being 'grass green' when the colour is actually officially termed 'emerald green'. This is his interpretation of the Philips colour guide. Also, in describing the Chaplain's cap he misses the front and back seam piping.

Clive

Edited by servicepub
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  • 3 weeks later...

Toby,

I have corresponded with Graham quite a few times over the years and he is a top fellow.

As to my avatar it is a forage cap to the Leinster Regiment. I have a particular fondness for these caps and only collect British Military headgear. Check out my collection if you care http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/topic/12757-my-british-headdress-collection/

Stuart

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  • 4 months later...

The VRC trace their history to before the re-formation of the Militia in 1855 when they were numbered the 3rd Battalion. Based in Montreal they were never one of the wealthy regiments like the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders of Canada), or the Canadian Grenadier Guards so had nobody of wealth or position to lobby on their behalf. The VRC raised several battalions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force for service in the First World War. The death knell was probably the fact that they were not called out for Active Service during the Second World War and were finally disbanded in the 1960s.

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Most interesting topic you've rattled here Stuart.

To my understanding, until about ww2, Dress Regulations followed practice. In practice the Colonels (Battallion COs) decided what was tolerated.

In general I can sat, that Dutch troops at Waterloo wore a soft foldable "cap" with black leather vizor for undress. As long time uniform historian I have not been able to find the source, but the geneal opinion here is that it had it's roots in either Germany or Russia. Many Dutch soldiers fought as conscripts in the Napoleontic army, others were employed as garrison or occupant troops in Germany. These men were not professionals, but civilians in uniform pressed into a foreign uniform and thus reluctant to French fashion.

When the French were driven out of the Netherlands and, with great difficulty, a national Army was established the commission tasked with inventing a national uniform followed custom. The army was firstly composed of local units, loyal to a local duke of master, and there was little money for expensive cloth and garnment; as long as it was functional.

At Waterloo Dutch and British were allies, and thus the fashion was seen (and appreciated) by other soldiers.

Further, I would like to include some photos from my Scots Guards collection, showing NCOs in the 1880s waring the peaked hat.

For the sake of understanding: would it be interesting to compile a posting or document, showing the development of the peaked or forage cap, with all it's various names, because I'm a bit dazzled by all these different nomenclatures for the various head dress?

2uszdqp.jpg

wspxd2.jpg

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