Original U.S. Civil War Era New York State Officer Chapeau-Bras Collapsible Bicorn by Baker and McKenney

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Now this is a fantastic piece of history that dates back to the Civil War era. A Chapeau-Bras, which translates literally to “hat arm”, is a bicorne hat that is designed to be compressed and carried under the arm, formerly worn on dress occasions by men in the 18th Century, and later in the United States Army by General and Staff Officers.

These caps were intended as a Dress Hat, and not too many survived the ages due to their fragile nature. The cap we are offering is perhaps one of the finest examples of a U.S. Army Chapeau from the Civil War era that we have ever seen! Not only is the cap in very solid condition, but all the adornments are still intact as well!

The hat features a gilt cockade with gilt wire bullion embroidered spread wing federal eagle. Of note is that the Federal Shield on the body of the bullion eagle is hand embroidered in full color (normally the shield is solid gold bullion). These Caps were universal, with the only distinction being the branch of service button affixed to the cockade on the right side of the cap or the insignia much like this one, which is the standard New York “Excelsior” crest.

The interior is lined with black silk lining and felt sweatband. The top of the lining has a partial manufacturer's marking and reads as:


The lining is torn down the center from years of being folded and unfolded which made the label only partially readable.

A lovely, scarce example that comes more than ready for further research and display.

Upstate New York was among the leaders in the revolutions in transportation, agriculture, and industry. Turnpikes, canals (notably the Erie Canal), and railroads connected eastern cities with western markets. New York's farmland was some of the most productive in the nation. The Genesee country became known as the breadbasket of the nation for its extraordinary grain production. Rapid-flowing rivers offered power for major industrial sites. Following these expanding economic opportunities, people (including African Americans as well as European Americans of many different backgrounds) poured into upstate New York. They came from several different cultures—New England Yankees, Dutch and Yorkers from eastern New York, Germans and Scots Irish from Pennsylvania, and immigrants from England and Ireland.

New York provided 400,000–460,000 men during the war, nearly 21% of all the men in the state and more than half of those under the age of 30. Of the total enlistment, more than 130,000 were foreign-born, including 20,000 from British North American possessions such as Canada. 51,000 were Irish and 37,000 German. The average age of the New York soldiers was 25 years, 7 months, although many younger men and boys may have lied about their age in order to enlist.

By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, New York had provided the Union Army with 27 regiments of cavalry, 15 regiments of artillery, 8 of engineers, and 248 of infantry. Federal records indicate 4,125 free blacks from New York served in the Union Army, and three full regiments of United States Colored Troops were raised and organized in the Empire State—the 20th, 26th, and 31st USCT.

Among the more prominent military units from the state of New York was the Excelsior Brigade of controversial former congressman Daniel Sickles. Francis B. Spinola was commissioner of New York Harbor when the war erupted; he joined the volunteer army in a New York regiment and was commissioned as an officer, appointed brigadier general of Volunteers, and recruited and organized a brigade of four regiments, known as Spinola's Empire Brigade. Several early volunteer regiments traced their origins to antebellum New York State Militia regiments, including the 14th Brooklyn, which became known for its bright red chasseur-style pants.

The first organized unit to leave the state for the front lines was the 7th New York State Militia, which departed by train for Washington, D.C. on April 19, 1861. The 11th New York Infantry, a two-years' regiment of new recruits, departed ten days later. Among the earliest casualties of the Civil War was Malta, New York, native Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, who was killed in May 1861 during an armed encounter in Alexandria, Virginia.

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