Trying to place time period of military uniform for a history class

Oct 2016
5
Missouri
#1
I'm trying to place the time period this uniform came from, for a museum studies course I'm taking. They have it marked as Spanish American war, but the folks who did that have left and we cannot find the paperwork that supports that claim.

Can anyone tell me anything about this type of uniform, and provide me with additional information or more examples of the same type of uniform?







Thank you for any help you can give me.-H
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,372
Albuquerque, NM
#2
It appears to be a naval uniform from the late 19th century. Navy whites are probably still worn by most USN personnel. The wide collar is called a flea-catcher, and the patch the three stripes on the flea-catcher commemorate, if memory serves, the battles of the Nile, Trafalgar, and ??? at the neck is designed to old the ends of a sailor's rolled neckerchief. In my day, we still had the 13 button fly and bell-bottoms, but I believe knee lengths probably were common in the late 19th century.

Given the context, I think it an American uniform adapted from the British. Navies, tend to be conservative, and the same basic unform for US and British sailors remained the same for a very long time.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,709
Australia
#3
It appears to be a naval uniform from the late 19th century. Navy whites are probably still worn by most USN personnel. The wide collar is called a flea-catcher, and the patch the three stripes on the flea-catcher commemorate, if memory serves, the battles of the Nile, Trafalgar, and ??? at the neck is designed to old the ends of a sailor's rolled neckerchief. In my day, we still had the 13 button fly and bell-bottoms, but I believe knee lengths probably were common in the late 19th century.

Given the context, I think it an American uniform adapted from the British. Navies, tend to be conservative, and the same basic unform for US and British sailors remained the same for a very long time.
Copenhagen is the third battle commemorated by the three collar stripes. They were originally added for appearance sake only, but soon took on the symbolic meaning among the sailors.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,372
Albuquerque, NM
#5
While I do believe this is a 19th century enlisted naval uniform, there are two problems I have with it. First, the patch at the jumper neck is more indicative of the Royal Navy, then the USN. US naval enlisted tie their neckerchiefs in a square knot, and have no need for the patch. Second, the trowsers adopted by the USN in 1897 were full length and provided for a small "bell bottom".

I'll look further into the matter, but it may take some time since I already have more pressing matters to attend to. If you must identify the uniform on the basis of our comments here, then say something like, "Undress White Enlisted Uniform attributed to USN circa 1897-98".

The Royal Navy didn't authorize any Naval enlisted uniform until 1857, a period when knee length pants were more commonly worn. I'll be looking into the possibility that your image is of a British naval enlisted uniform on the 1877 pattern. I have no idea what the elisted Spanish seaman wore, and that needs yet to be checked out.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,372
Albuquerque, NM
#6
I've consulted the actual USN 1897 uniform regulations, and your image didn't seem to conform to the regulations. Here is a different site where an example of the Undress White uniform is shown (#16, fig. 3 and 4). Its worth while noting the blues and dress whites at the same site. Note the pockets of the trousers are placed incorrectly, and according to regulations there should be no belt loops. There is no patch at the neck, nor stripes on the flea-catcher. Nothing at all regarding knee length pants.

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/for...80-spanish-american-us-navy-enlisted-uniform/

Regulations called for each part of the uniform to be marked with the owner's name in specific ways. For the jumper, the sailor's name should be inside and two inches above the hem line, and on the pants the marking should be inside on the waistband and inside both pant's legs. OP, can you check for markings un-seen in the existing images?

I've been unable to find on-line the Royal Navy's regulations from the 19th century when uniforms were first assigned to all sailors of the Royal Navy.

So far I've found nothing applicable for Spanish Naval enlisted personnel during the Spanish American War.
 
Oct 2016
5
Missouri
#7
I can't check it until Tuesday or Wednesday, but I will definitely check it, and let you know what I find. The unusualness of the uniform is what is so difficult locking the origin down. I've had it suggested that there is a possibility it was created as emergency uniforms while the troops were already in the Pacific, and therefore might have been made from local cloth. Do you think there may be some merit to that?
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,372
Albuquerque, NM
#8
If the trousers and jumper do belong together, the dating may be as early as 1857 when knee pants were still common. I believe the uniform is either British, or the American version of the British enlisted navy uniform. Of course, if the uniform was custom made, that would explain the variations on the USN 1897 regulations. How strict were uniforms made to the 1897 Regulations? The jumper shown has two variations, and the pants are wildly irregular for the USN at the time.

After the Battle of Manilla Bay the decrepit Spanish Navy was done as a world sea power. What would the Spanish sailor have worn at that time? I don't know.

What is the provenance for this artifact?
 
Oct 2016
5
Missouri
#9
Unfortunately the only information I have on the artifact is that it was donated to the local historical society after being passed along family members, and the women who run it were told that it was from the Spanish American war. It precedes either of them, and the accession records have been lost. The town itself did have men who served in the Spanish American war, but I haven't been able to lock down the item origin at all.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,372
Albuquerque, NM
#10
That pretty much is the old ball game. "Attributed to" is the most I would be willing to venture because of the problems noted above. The item does not conform to USN Uniform regulations of 1897, and missing the owner's name on each of the two pieces leaves us nothing to left to pursue. Sorry. but thats my best effort/