Item:
ONAC22MA1314

Original U.S. Seminole Wars Early 19th Century State Militia Artillery Shako

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a fantastic example of early Artillery Shako which was worn from the 1830 to early 1850s. The design and appearance leads us to believe that this cap would have been born by an Artilleryman from either the New York or Massachusetts state militia. A shako is a tall, cylindrical military cap, usually with a visor, and sometimes tapered at the top. It is usually adorned with an ornamental plate or badge on the front, metallic or otherwise; and often has a feather, plume or pompom attached at the top.

From 1800 on, the shako became a common military headdress worn by the majority of regiments in the armies of Europe and the Americas. Replacing in most instances the light bicorne, the shako was initially considered an improvement. Made of heavy felt and leather, it retained its shape and provided some protection for the soldier's skull, while its visor shaded his eyes. It retained this preeminence until the mid-19th century, when spiked helmets began to appear in the army of Prussia, which influenced armies of the various German states; and the more practical kepi replaced it for all but parade wear in the French Army.

This shako, as previously stated, may have been worn by the Massachusetts or New York State militia artillery. The front sunburst pattern insignia was typically worn by dragoon units starting in 1833 with an eagle in place of the crossed cannons. Related insignia are illustrated in Smithsonian Institution Bulletin No. 269 (pp. 32-33). Similar shako body example with an infantry front plate is in the collections of the New York Historical Society Library and Museum. This example retains all of its original brass hardware, sweatband, and chinstrap (broken but present). The "gilt cross cannons" device was prescribed for artillery in the 1834 regulations. Struck in sheet brass of medium thickness, the superimposed cannon has trunnions and dolphins visible.

Overall good condition, with body showing some heat shrinkage and dents typical of nearly 200 year old leather. Tarred finish is flaking in some spots. Crown has been professionally reinforced to the inside with a basswood ring for stabilization purposes.

A wonderful example of a rather rare shako, comes more than ready for display.

Seminole Wars
The Seminole Wars (also known as the Florida Wars) were three related military conflicts in Florida between the United States and the Seminole, citizens of a Native American nation which formed in the region during the early 1700s. Hostilities commenced about 1816 and continued through 1858, with two periods of uneasy truce between active conflict. The Seminole Wars were the longest and most expensive, in both human and financial cost to the United States, of the American Indian Wars.

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