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 worn by the New York or Massachusetts state militia, possibly an artillery unit. 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. Measuring 10" from the front of the squared off visor to the front edge of the crown. Mounted with a large, 8" x 5 - 1/2" brass sunburst pattern front plate. A small gold-finished cast pewter right facing eagle cockade style emblem is affixed to the right side and holds a length of red worsted wool tape (most likely indicating artillery use) that extends from the emblem to the left side of the crown. Brass visor is painted grass green on the underside, with the inside of the shako retaining its original polished cotton sky blue lining and leather sweatband.

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. Shape is slightly warped from age, and the only attempt at preservation appears to be the glued down wool tape on the body of the shako.

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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