Original U.S. Civil War Imported French Second Empire Model 1860 Leather Shako - Original Period Applied Insignia
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a wonderful example of a French Second Empire leather shako imported by the Union during the American Civil War. The Second French Empire remained officially neutral throughout the American Civil War and never recognized the Confederate States of America. The United States warned that recognition would mean war. France was reluctant to act without British collaboration, and the British government rejected intervention.
Emperor Napoleon III realized that a war with the United States without allies "would spell disaster" for France. However, the textile industry used cotton, and Napoleon had sent an army to control Mexico, which could be greatly aided by the Confederacy. At the same time, other French political leaders, such as Foreign Minister Édouard Thouvenel, supported the United States.
This lovely shako is an Infantry Model 1860 of French origin and was used by Union troops early on during the war. This shako was part of 10,000 sets of chasseur uniforms purchased from the Godillot firm in Paris and imported for the US market. According to “U.S. ARMY HEADGEAR 1812-1872” by Langellier & Loane, they were issued without the front plates to the 18th Massachusetts, the 62nd and 83rd Pennsylvania with the plates to New York’s Excelsior Brigade.
The shako is constructed of heavy black leather and measures approx. 6” high with a straight vertical crown which features a slightly curved stamped brass gilt plate pinned to the front. The plate features a spread-winged eagle atop a laurel wreath that surrounds 1 3/8” diameter disc with the infantry symbol of a hunting horn embossed upon it retaining some of the original blue paint. On the eagle’s chest is an enameled red, white and blue shield which is retained quite nicely. At top, near the crown is a 2 inch diameter circular metal cockade decorated with a red center and rings of white and dark blue paint, also retained well. Extending from the top front of the shako is an orange colored pompom.
The exterior leather is in good condition exhibiting the expected surface wear and crazing. All stitching is still mostly tight but does have some material loss in isolated areas. The leather visor has a finished edge with a green underside that shows moderate wear with embossed stamping present. The interior still retains a fragile and cracked leather sweatband but no chinstrap.
This is a beautiful example of a French imported shako used by Union troops during the Civil War. Comes more than ready for further research and display.
- This product is available for international shipping.
- Eligible for all payments - Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AMEX, Paypal & Sezzle