The Hardee hat, also known as the Model 1858 Dress Hat and sometimes nicknamed the “Jeff Davis”, was the regulation dress hat for enlisted men in the Union Army, during the American Civil War. Most soldiers found the black felt hat to be too hot and heavy and greatly preferred the forage cap, kepi or slouch hat. During the Civil War, the Union Army members of the “Iron Brigade” became the most prominent wearers of the Hardee hat, thereby often being referred to as the Black-Hats. Additionally, some unadorned, plain and often field-modified Hardee hats were worn by Union troops, especially in the Western theater.
This example of the Hardee hat has its original worsted wool, yellow hat cord, both denoting cavalry use. The left side of the hat is folded up and affixed to the crown, with the correct, original Hardee hat eagle device. The brim of the hat is bound with two rows of stitching, as seen in all period Hardee hats, and half of the original U.S. Army label remains on the inside, top of the crown. The small, black grosgrain ribbon remains beneath the hat cord, surrounding the crown’s exterior, as well. This hat appears to have seen field use, as it does have some wear and weather exposure areas, especially on the brim. The felt remains in overall good condition, although there are several breaks in the brim. The sweatband is missing, as well. This hat is quite pliable and no longer stiff, a feature also indicative of war period field use. Despite some minor condition issues, the hat displays very well and really is impressive in appearance.
Inventory Number: UNI 070