The slouch hat was introduced to this country by a spirited Hungarian patriot named Louis Kossuth. In 1852, Mr. Kossuth completed a speaking tour of our country where he sought and received a great deal of support for Hungarian liberties after his country had become dominated by the Czar of Russia. Louis Kossuth was described by William Cullen Bryant as a man who is “fearless, eloquent, large of heart and of mind, whose one thought is the salvation of oppressed Hungary, unfortunate, but undiscouraged, struck down in the battle of liberty, but great in defeat, and gathering strength for triumphs to come.” From a banquet in honor of Louis Kossuth with the Press of New York, December 9, 1851.
At first, the slouch hat was well defined as a fairly soft hat with a low crown and a medium brim. However, over time the term slouch hat came to be a generic term describing a wide variety of hats. By the time of the Civil War, the term slouch hat came to be associated with hats of various types of crowns and crown heights, brim widths and degrees of softness.
The romance of the slouch hat adapted easily to the American spirit and the ribbon on the brim and rounded crown add to its dashing charm. Our Slouch Hat comes with a hand sewn leather sweatband, and includes a period lining and tippet. Some sizes may have a more rounded crown than pictured. Variations of the slouch hat that we offer include the Shiloh and Antietam. To the right is a civilian and to the left is a soldier wearing this hat.
This is a slouch with a flair! The curled brim adds character to the nature of the hat as well as improving the integrity of the brim. In other words, the brim will maintain it’s shape for a long period between steaming and shaping. Of the thousands of Civil War photographs and drawings we have reviewed, over 80% sport a curled brim and this hat is by far the most common.
This hat style can be seen in the left side of the period drawing at the left. The confederate soldier is leaning over General Albert Sidney Johnson after he was wounded at the battle of Shiloh. The photo to the right shows an individual member of the 55th Tennessee Infantry wearing this style. If you want a hat that is period correct, yet looks great today, this is a good choice.
We named this hat the Shiloh after it proved its value at the Shiloh Event in 1997 which was cancelled because of heavy rainfall. Needless to say, our hats weathered the storm!
The Antietam style is a flat crowned variation of the slouch hat. One researcher noted that flat crowned hats are seen more commonly in many period photographs. We are not sure it was the most common style, but it certainly was a popular hat. All of our Civil War styles have grosgrain (pronounced grow-grain) ribbon sewn on the brim. The sewing machine that enabled the ribbon to be sewn on the brim in this fashion became popular among hatters in the 1850’s. As competition grew, more of the hats produced just before and to a lesser extent during the Civil War had this option. Grosgrain ribbon had been around hat brims for a long time. However, the sewing machine made adding ribbon to the brim much faster and less expensive than hand work.
The photo to the left shows some working men with both the Shiloh (bottom two men) and Antietam (top) styles.