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Behind the scenes at Pamplin: Blister in the sun

Posted by On 3:16 AM

Behind the scenes at Pamplin: Blister in the sun

Monday

Jun 11, 2018 at 2:01 AM

'Havelocks' were used to protect soldiers from harmful sun rays

As the hot and humid days of a Virginia summer are upon us, civilians and soldiers alike throughout time have known that some roads are the same for all of us. Whether it’s a trail hike or a soldier on campaign, the summer heat and sun can inflict its own type of casualties. Cases of heat stroke and sun burn have been documented going back to colonial times and were no stranger to Civil War soldiers.

The importance of hydration and keeping canteens full were in stark contrast to the uniforms of the day. Heavy and itchy wool uniforms certainly were not the models for summer comfort and the soldier’s standard issue kepi or hat offered little to protect a soldier from the sun. A burned neck and face can be uncomfortable or even painful for people of any era but, there was a solution to prevent sunburn in a havelock.

Reportedly named after Major General Sir Henry Havelock, a British military officer who served with distinction in the First Afghan War and in the Indian Mutiny 1857-1859, the havelock protected the head and neck from the sun. Made from a simple white cotton or muslin material, the havelock was normally worn over the kepi and a tail piece covered the neck and sides of the face, for protection against the sun. This was an item issued to both Confederate and Union soldiers during the Civil War which they found extremely useful.

While some soldiers wore the havelock for protection from the sun, others found it counterproductive and found new and creative uses for this sun screen. Civil War soldiers complained that the havelock actually made them hotter because it did not allow cooler air to circulate around the head and neck. This caused many to seek out additional uses for the item. S ome practical soldiers used their havelocks as a coffee strainer or dishcloth. Others found that it made a nice pouch for filling with eggs, fruits or other ill-gotten gains from foraging. Still more soldiers tore it into smaller sections and used it as gun patches to clean out the barrels of their muskets.

Fortunately, a complete and intact havelock resides in the vast Pamplin Historical Park collection for preservation and academic study. This item is constructed of a lightweight cotton cloth made from six pieces and sewn together. The tail piece measures eighteen inches with a border tape around the edging. There are button holes on either side of the crown which allow it to be fastened to the kepi. Thus keeping it from blowing off of the wearer’s head while in use and hopefully defending against the effects of the sun.

Sumber: Google News | Liputan 24 Kepi

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