The Regional Review

Volume III - No. 2

August, 1939


Morris Rangers hat

A specially designed hat worn by an American militiaman during the War of 1812 is being displayed among a collection of military headdresses in the museum of Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey. It belonged to a soldier of a local company known as the Morris Rangers and was presented to the park in 1933 by the Washington Association of New Jersey. A so-called beaver, the hat is eight and one-half inches high, belled at the top, and has a straight stiff brim two inches wide. Attached by a leather strap buckled at the back is a shaped plate of tin painted blue and having a red border. Inscribed upon it with gold paint are the words "Morris Rangers," together with an eagle and 15 stars.

Although the hat is somewhat unsoldierly in appearance when judged by modern military standards, it was issued with professional pride by it maker, Samuel Eaton, a well known manufacturer of New York, who warranted it to be water-proof. Pasted inside the crown was Eaton's silk label, printed from an engraved plate, which showed the American eagle on a solid foundation, a female figure of Justice sitting nearby and holding a balance, and a full-rigged ship riding on a body of water in the back ground. The plate is signed by Rollinson, an English engraver who came to America in 1789 and, aside from commercial orders, made plates of George Washington in 1791 and Alexander Hamilton in 1804.

The Morris Rangers were one of three uniformed companies of militia in Morris County at the outbreak of the second war with Great Britain. The 64 men of the unit wore hats like that pictured above and it is surmised that they were clad in a uniform consisting of a blue single-breasted, short-waisted coat with tails, a high collar, tight white breeches with "spatter-dashers," or gaiters, and cross belts of white webbing supporting a cartridge box and bayonet. They were armed with flintlock muskets, possibly the contract model of 1810.

The Rangers, with Captain Carter's Riflemen at Bottle Hill and Captain Brittin's Fusileers at Chatham, formed a part of the Third Regiment of Infantry, New Jersey Detailed Militia, which saw service at Paulus Hook in 1814.

The collection of military hats in the museum of the National Historical Park includes also a number of models worn during the Revolutionary War.

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Date: 04-Jul-2002