|Description and Photograph||
Though war is a serious business, the Confederate Soldier’s irrepressible humor helped see him through the hardships of camp and field. The slouch hat shown here, well illustrates that humor, and displays the well deserved pride he took in being a member of a distinguished, hard fought regiment.
Of course there were not 154 regiments enlisted in Tennessee. The 154th got its designation in the following manner; volunteers rushed to Tennessee’s standard in April of 1861, each vying to be designated the First Volunteer Reg’t. On April 15th, the men that were to become the 154th Seniors embarked from the wharf at Memphis, rendezvousing under Col. Preston Smith at Fort Randolph, Shelby County Tennessee. (Conf. Vet. Vol. X, pg. 259)
The men who formed Preston Smith’s and George Maney’s units both claimed the honour of being designated the First Tennessee Infantry Regiment. When Maney’s men were given the coveted title, Smith’s good natured boys insisted that if they couldn’t be the lowest numbered regiment, they would be the highest. They asked for, and received, permission to be numbered 154th under the old militia system. (Conf. Vet. Vol. XXI, pg.355, Vol. X, pg.259) The Regiment added the title “Seniors” to designate there early enlistment.
No unit had a better fighting record than the gallant boys of the 154th. Having enlisted at the very outset, they fought at Belmont, losing thirteen men. At Shiloh the 154th was devastated, losing thirty-one percent. They lost an even higher proportion at Murfreesboro, taking a staggering forty-one percent casualties. After having fought through the Georgia campaign, the 154th became the first regiment to re-enlist under J. E. Johnston at Dalton. (Conf. Vet. Vol.14, pg.291). Enlisting for “ninety-nine years or the war” (Conf. Vet. Vol. IX, pg.53) the Seniors started a wave of patriotic enlistments among the dispirited Army of Tennessee. The Seniors fought through Hood’s disastrous Tennessee campaign, the Carolina’s campaign and had been virtually destroyed by the time of the Army of Tennessee’s surrender, April 26, 1865.
The Hat’s wearer took a well earned pride in his regiment and his slouch hat. He fashioned an obviously hand made pewter badge with his Regimental number and state cut into it, “154TH TENN”, and decorated it with artistic scrollwork around the border. On the underside of the left brim, which was apparently worn pinned up, the bold designation “154 SENIOR” appears above, “TN Reg’t”. The designation is encapsulated by scrolls similar to the scrolls around the badge. This entire designation is done in ink and was probably red at the time it was executed.
It still retains its original sweatband and decorative hatband. The hatband utilizes a braided, officer’s sword knot complete with tassels.
The Hat’s provenance is impeccable; donated to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, circa 1930, the hat was stored in the Museum’s basement until the early 1980’s when it was rediscovered and preserved. In the 1990’s the Museum began selling off artifacts that did not conform to the Museum’s primary goal of art promotion and preservation. During this restructuring, the Museum sold the Hat through the Flomation Auction House in Flomation, Alabama. Since that time the Hat has resided in one of the country’s premier Confederate Collections.
This Confederate Slouch Hat has everything a Collector could desire. It cannot be exceeded, in aesthetics, provenance, condition and associated Confederate history. Quite simply, I believe this to be the highest quality Confederate Slouch Hat in private hands.