Description: The styling of the French hat was unique. Its tricorn shape was altered in 1776. In place of three equal corners, the front of the hat was attenuated and raised making the hat nearly bicorne. Dr. Thatcher visited the French camp with Officers of a Virginia Regiment and observed that the French Officers were wearing hats "being cocked with two corners instead of three" which he says gave them a very novel appearance (Stevens, Magazine of American History, January 1880, Vol. IV, No. 1 p.209). The front corner of the hat was shorter than the others. The hat is worn pushed over the right eyebrow, the front corner above the left eyebrow which is left bare above it for about 14 mm..

Brim: The crown was be three and a half inches deep. The brim will be four inches wide and bordered with a black woolen tape three­quarters of an inch wide, folded over the edge. The brim will be held up with hooks "in the customary manner." The left side will be held up with a black cord attached to a small uniform button. The use of hooks made it possible to lower the brim in inclement weather or to protect against bright sun.

Two engravings by M. Ponce commemorating the Caribbean campaign of 1873 clearly show that the troops have unhooked and reversed their hats. (La Guerre Pour La Liberté des Mers 1778­1783, Association des Amis de la Marine, Palais de Chaillot, 75016 Paris.)

Pompoms: Above the cockade, the Grenadiers and their lower Officers, will wear a red wool pompom, two inches in diameter. These pompoms were made of wool mounted on the stem of an iron wire which was bent so that the bend created an eye for attachment to a leather button sewn behind the brim of the hat. Chasseurs and fusiliers had nothing similar, however a period plate for the Royal Deuxponts uniform by Insard in 1779, shows a fusilier with a green sprig in his hat. The Ordinance of 1786 introduced a very elaborate system of pompoms that designated companies. Lefferts confused the regulation of 1779 with that of 1786 with his elaborate presentation on pompoms in his Uniforms of the American Revolution. FONT>

The cord holding up the left side was usually black but the Verger portrait shows a white ganse. The two ends of the ganse are sewn to the upper crown on the left side. The loop is extended over the brim and attached to a button (commonly called the "gaiter button") sewn on the wing and affixed there. The ganse and cockade are then fixed a bit to the right. The ganse loop is just long enough to hold the cockade in place so that the button touches the cockade (Malibran: 27 and 181). Half of the hats will be replaced each year. Officers, Grenadiers, Chasseurs and Soldiers maintained a cockade made of white basin.

The Verger portrait shows a white cockade with the pleats spreading to the edges giving a "butterfly" effect, also a medium­sized red cockade, the symbol of the Bourbon Alliance between France and Spain. In addition to these cockades, the French wore a small black cockade symbolizing the Franco­American Alliance. The black cockades were issued to the troops at sea and were received with some relief by the men who feared they might be going to the Caribbean, "the grave of the White man." Leliepvre has suggested that the red cockade was added later, after the troops entered the Caribbean. However, John Austin Stevens cites a Providence letter (July 22, 1780) made public in the newspapers, explicit on this point, "the officers and soldiers wear cockades of three colors, emblematic of a triple alliance between France, Spain and America" (The French in Rhode Island. Magazine of American History, Vol., III, no 7, p.402.)

The Ordinance of 31 May 1776 (Ch.1, Art.2) provides an extensive description of the hat with many details found nowhere else "The hats are to be made of well felted wool ... (with) a white hat­lining made of heavy linen should be sew around the interior of the crown, pleating itself like a purse by means of a cord to come together with the narrowing of the crown, so as to make a stopping point for the head. The interior crown, which this separation forms, will be lined with white paper. Two holes in the form of an eyelet will be place in each side of the linen lining. A mobile cord will be passed through each. This will give the Soldier the ability to fix the hat to his head. The part of the crown that will touch and encircle the head of the man will be trimmed for its entire circumference with a blackened sheep leather ... The brim will be trimmed on the edge with a good quality, copper wire, bordered by a heavy black woolen tape ... The hats will be made of common wool. The wool will be of good quality and thickness; dead or peladed wool are absolutely forbidden because they cannot be worked together. Rabbit hair will be added to the wool but never that of cattle hair which makes the felt swell and as a result spongy. Care should be taken to use enough material that the crown and brim of the hat will be well filled out. The prescribed materials will be fulled and worked with force and care so that the felt made this way will be more water repellent. Take care to require the Manufacturer to sift a sufficient quantity of refined, powdered pitch into the (bastissage) batch so that the action of heat and fulling the powder is incorporated into the wool and hair. The result is a tight, waterproof felt that is not brittle."

Comments: Despite the detailed instructions on construction, the quality of hats available during the American campaign left much to be desired. The summary of material consigned to the Regiment Royal Deuxponts that was shipped from Paris to Brest in 1782, included 1000 soldier's hats. A letter from Captain Ludwig who was charged with regimental stores, to the Minister of War on behalf of his Colonel (12 March 1782) summarizes the problem. Based on an inspection held in October, 1781, the regiment requested 66 officer's hats and 600 soldier's hats for the 1782­83 campaign. The message was received and in late January, 1782, 1000 soldier's hats were shipped from Paris to Brest. However, only 500 soldier's hats bordered in black wool were included in the 29 containers shipped from Brest on 23 February. A letter of 7 August indicated the problem was far from resolved. Much of the material requested had not been properly marked creating serious confusion and had been packed so negligently that many had been seriously damaged. The regiment that had needed 600 hats in 1781, now needed 1000 hats. The hats they did receive were of very poor quality; small with narrow crowns and did not fit well on the head. Ludwig suggested a hat manufacturer who made excellent hats but his recommendation apparently went unheeded. The 1782 inspection resulted in a renewed request for 1000 hats. Ludwig wrote the Minister of War on November 24th asking his assistance in expediting the delivery of 1000 hats from M. Trouppet, a hat manufacturer in Paris who had received the contract. We don't know if they ever got their hats, the regimental dossier contains no additional material (pp. 2­5 and 67­71 passim).