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Original U.S. Army Pre-WWI M1912 Officer Summer Field Blouse

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an excellent condition cotton summer khaki patter 1912 field blouse for an officer in the Infantry. It features rimmed buttons, stand up collar, and P"4 P" infantry insignia with pin backs.

Approximate Measurements:
Collar to shoulder: 9”
Shoulder to sleeve: 25”
Shoulder to shoulder: 15.5”
Chest width: 18”
Waist width: 16”
Hip width: 21”
Front length: 28"

During the Spanish-American War, several volunteer units were sent for tropical duty wearing lightweight cotton rather than the Army’s standard blue wool uniforms. Following experiences in the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Army formally adopted khaki-colored uniforms. It would only be a few years until it had all but abandoned the blue wool it had worn for more than a century.

As early as 1898, regulations specified a field service blouse for all commissioned officers and enlisted men to be made of “cotton drilling or khaki, light-brown in color…” This departure from the blue uniform, however, was only for the service uniform. While “on marches, fatigue duty, and ordinary wear,” troops were instructed to wear the blue wool surge, 5-button field blouse with rolled collar.

In 1902, the Army introduced a new set of uniform regulations that marked the beginning of a new era for all branches of its service. It abandoned helmets with horsehair plumes, dress coats with distinctive facings and fatigue uniforms made of blue wool. It adopted more practical headwear and drab earth tones for both uniforms and equipment. Like many of the armies of its European counterparts, the U.S. Army was entering the century with a new look more suitable for camouflage than for parade ground pomp (it did, however, retain a dress blue uniform for formal occasions).

The new service blouse for enlisted men had a rollover collar and pointed cuffs. The regulations described it as, “A single-breasted sack coat of olive drab woolen material or khaki-colored cotton material, made with two outside breast choked-bellows pockets and two outside pockets of the same pattern below the waist; pockets to be without plaits and covered by flaps, rounded at edges, buttoned by a small regulation button.” The last portion of this description alludes to another important change in the Army’s appearance: The regulation button.

 The Army had worn bright brass or silver-colored buttons on its service uniforms from the beginning. This changed in 1902, however, with the adoption of a subdued, dull bronze button. The 1902 pattern General Service button featured the nation’s Great Seal with no rim around the circumference. It was produced in three sizes: Cuff, blouse and overcoat. The two smaller sizes were also produced in gilt for use on the dress uniform. The 1902 button would remain the standard pattern used on all of the Army’s dress and service uniforms until the adoption of a rimmed variant in 1912.

Over the following nine years, the khaki blouse would undergo no fewer than 10 specifications. Initially, the cotton khaki blouse was to be worn at tropical posts and coastal artillery emplacements within the United States. In 1907, the regulations were changed permitting wear of the cotton blouse during the summer months at all Army posts.

Limited production of a woolen blouse began in 1903 with most troops receiving their first issue after 1904. Production continued with very few modifications until 1906 when Specification No. 815 replaced the rolled-over with a “Standing/Falling”. Later that year, the pattern was slightly altered to include collar lining. In 1907, the regulations were changed permitting wear of the cotton blouse during the summer months at all Army posts.

In 1909, a significant change to the soldier’s appearance occurred. Specification No. 1038 required all woolen blouses to be made in olive drab green. Remaining stocks of khaki were to be issued as the change was implemented.

Finally, in August 1911, the Quartermaster General approved the discontinuation of the stand-and-fall collar, replacing it with simple standing version. This is the style of blouse that Pershing’s Army Expeditionary Force would wear to Europe in 1917.
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