Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Patricia M. Wesp
The mid 18th century backcountry of Virginia helped to give birth to a new and truly American fashion, the hunting shirt. This shirt was split up the front and sometimes belted closed, often caped around the shoulders and festooned with fringe on all its edges. At its conception, the garment remained extremely regional to the backcountry and Great Valley of Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. This paper will explore and focus on this regionalism and the further adoption of this garment as the first uniform of the Continental Army. General George Washington notes "No Dress can be had cheaper, nor more convenient" and quickly dispatches "patterns" to New England for their tailors to copy. This garment will rapidly disseminate from the far reaches of Georgia through New England. At the end of the Revolution, scarcely a soldier could say that he did not wear this peculiar uniform from the Old Dominion. George Washington Parke Custis states in his Recollections and private memoirs of Washington that this "national costume" was indeed "the emblem of the Revolution." Curiously, as quickly as this garment came into military fashion it disappears. It's last Military use was in the United States Rifle Regiments as American independence was challenged again during the War of 1812. After that period these garments were only to be found in "museums, like ancient armor, exposed to the curious."
Hurst, Neal Thomas, ""kind of armour, being peculiar to America" The American Hunting Shirt" (2013). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 572.
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