Patriotic and Secession Bonnets

***Incomplete Thoughts Post – See Here***

Years ago I became fascinated with the notes Vicki Betts assembled on Red, White and Red. This was very early in my learning research. I was so excited to see so much information in one place, and have it be easy to read. Years later, I still find her research just as wonderful. (If you haven’t spent days and days looking at it, your really should.)

This year, being the year a great many Civil War era reenactors interpret the year 1861 coinciding with me doing as much millinery as I have been is going to give me the opportunity to do a millinery piece (or two) reflecting northern or southern patriotism.

In reading original literature, periodicals, journals, etc., there are two clusters of patriotic apparel and accessories – Those surrounding elections and those surrounding the beginning of the Civil War.

p5Ah, the elections. I do wish we would interpret the 1840s and 1850s more, as they are filled with so many fascinating events. I also think it would be nice to interpret one of the elections. In the years of presidential elections, the ladies magazines are filled with patriotic themed projects decked out in red, white and blue – slippers, quilts, pillows, etc. Period accounts are filled with descriptive scenes of villages draped in the national colors and women’s bonnets adorned with ribbons of the same. This account of a country election is a short example.

As the Civil War dawned, or possibly pre-dawn, northern millinery reflected patriotic sentiments. Several publications, including Appleton’s Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events, recount women wearing ribbons of red, white and blue on their bonnets in New York City following the events at Fort Sumter.“On all coats were pinned the red, white and blue cockade, and in every lady’s bonnet ribbons of the same colors were tastefully displayed”


For an understanding of southern patriotism and secession bonnets, please see Vicki Bett’s research (two transcriptions below) and Kathy Kelly Hunt’s article (may require a FB account.)

CHARLESTON MERCURY, March 20, 1862, 1, c. 3
The ladies of Baltimore, notwithstanding Lincoln’s proclamation, appear daily on the streets, in secession colors, to wit “red, white and red.” Bonnets are so constantly trimmed with a red, a white, and again, a red rose, that even the manufacturers have been prohibited from making these rebellious flowers, in order “to support the Government.” Yet, the ladies, who are equal to every emergency, were not to be out-done in this matter. The insulting Yankee soldiers, on several occasions, spoke to the traitorous demoiselles, and even went so far as to tear the trimmings from their bonnets.
According to the

“the streets of Charleston were filled with excited people hazzaing for a Southern Confederacy, and several women made a public display of their so-called patriotism, by appearing on the crowded side-walks with “succession bonnets,” the invention of a Northern milliner in Charleston. Small Palmetto flags, with a lone star on each, fluttered with white handkerchiefs out of many a window…” ( Pictorial History of the Civil War in the United States of America Lossing, 1866)

Here is a short passage on Palmetto Cockades to give you an idea of how these were used to trim Southern bonnets showing their patriotism.
Published in: on May 6, 2016 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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