Thursday, October 15, 2015

1st Texas Cavalry

This is a picture of Benjamin Varnell of Company B, 1st Texas Cavalry. While is is not showing his weapons, he is sporting a very fine plumed Cavalry hat.


  1. Good picture. I notice that the army back then subscribed to the one-size-fits-all approach to clothing for solders. My guess is that the shirt was about four sizes bigger than he was. Guess the hat made up the difference in his self esteem.

    1. As a matter of fact, sizing for women's clothing didn't come into existence until WWII. The military had loads of WAACs, WAVES, etc. who did NOT subscribe to the one-size-fits-all theory. The military was able to get accurate measurements for several thousand women, break them down, and come up with an accurate sizing method which is still pretty much in use, although people today are larger, for the most part, than people in the 40s.

  2. Love the feather. The first thing that came to mind, of course, was:"Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni". It's been a while since I thought of Yankee Doodle. This photo's a dandy, for sure.

  3. My first thought was that his shirt looked homemade. It's not quite like the others we've seen. It goes on over his head, and the placket is very wide. The shoulder seam is low on his arm, however, as they have been in all the shirts we've seen so far. I'm not sure whether that was the style of the day, or whether it was to give lots of room in the arm for moving around to use the weapons. It looks like he's wearing something under it, either long underwear, or another shirt. All the soldiers we've seen this week button their shirt up all the way, but nobody's wearing any kind of a tie.

    That hat with the feather is really something else, indeed. The expression "Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni" comes from the French soldiers just before the American Revolution. Some of the wealthy officers, when off duty, dressed in tight satin breeches, embroidered waistcoats, bright colors, etc, topping the outfits off with lots of feathers in their hats. They actually called themselves macaroni. Some of these French troops came to help out in the Rev. War (think La Fayette, an incredibly great general, who also brought lots of money) and the Americans were grateful. Those American soldiers who could afford to ape their fashion did. They were also called "dandy," by the way, a word that has stuck in our vocabulary while the only place "macaroni" has, other than as pasta, is in the lyrics of the song.


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