|Description and Photograph||
When the student of history envisions the Virginia cavalier galloping along behind the dashing Jeb Stuart, this is the slouch hat our perfect vision of chivalry wears. Though its time had passed by for the rest of the world, the South still clung to the chivalric code. Probably for this very reason the slouch hat was far and away the favorite headgear of the Confederate cavalryman. With his ostrich plume dancing in the wind he considered it a privilege to defend a lady's honour, and war was but a frolic.
While we have unfortunately lost the dashing cavalierís name, his regimentís place in history has been preserved in this time capsule. The brass insignia affixed to the front of the hat bears the stamped brass regimental number 5, over the brass crossed sabre insignia of the cavalry; all surmounting the brass letters VA, designating his home. Therefore the hatís history is that of the 5th Virginia Cavalry.
Six companies of scouts under Lieutenant Colonel Clay Pate, to which were added four companies primarily drawn from Virginiaís coastal counties, were banded together in June of 1862 to form the 5th Virginia Cavalry.
The regiment followed Stuartís sword through the battles of the Seven Days, 2nd Bull Run, the Maryland campaign, Fredericksburg, Brandy Station, Upperville, Gettysburg, Bristoe, Mine Run, the Wilderness and a hundred unnamed skirmishes. After Stuartís death at Yellow Tavern the regiment fought under Wade Hampton at Cold Harbor and was afterwards transferred to Early's Shenandoah Valley operations.
On November 8, 1864, it was consolidated with the 15th Virginia Cavalry and designated the 5th Consolidated Regiment Virginia Cavalry. Now returned to the Petersburg Front, the regiment fought in the many battles around that ill-fated city until driven to Appomattox, when rather than surrender, all but two of the regiment cut their way through their would be captors and returned to their homes.
Fortunately this slouch hat has survived as a monument and testament to their sacrifice and suffering; its jaunty air reminding us of the halcyon days when the Virginia cavalry under Stuart were a terror to the villains in blue.
The hat remains in virtually pristine condition, its inner and outer band intact, and with its original stitching; the plume that waved so proudly over many fields, still firmly held in place. Perfection.
Ex. William Turner, George Gorman, Donald R. Tharpe Collections.