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PATTERN 1872 OFFICER’S UNDRESS UNIFORM COAT – EXCELLENT CONDITION SPECIMEN:  Introduced during a time when most army officers did not wear, much less own, a suit of civilian clothing, these Pattern 1872 Officer’s Undress Uniform Coats were intended to be worn, as stated in the regulations:  “…for fatigues, marches, squad and company drills, and other drills when a authorized by the commanding officer, and for ordinary wear….”.   A simple design similar in cut to the enlisted blouses of the era, these Undress Coats were trimmed with a mohair braid highlighted with trefoils which terminated each end of the braid surrounding the buttons, creating a distinctive appearance for the officer as he made his way through his daily routine. 

This 1872 Undress Coat (also referred to as a blouse) shows obvious signs of having been part of an officer’s wardrobe, evidenced by the presence of the identified maker’s label, but it was gently worn, properly stored, and has survived in excellent condition as a very respectable specimen of genuine Indian War era uniforming worn on the frontier.   

The maker’s label sewn in the inside right breast pocket indicates this coat was produced by the famous firm of Brooks Brothers in New York City.  The handwritten information on the label documents that the coat was made for Captain K. R. McAlpin in 1900.  Kenneth Rose McAlpin was born February 22, 1882, son of General Edwin A. McAlpin, commander of the New York National Guard 71ST Regiment, New York Adjutant General, Mayor of Ossining, New York, and president of the Boy Scouts of America in 1911.  That the younger McAlpin entered the service is of little surprise given the history of military service of his father and brothers.  While presumably already in service, Kenneth joined the famous Troop A, Squadron A Cavalry in 1912 and remained with the unit until discharged in 1916.  Upon the entry of the United States into World War One, he was appointed as an Assistant Surgeon with the rank of ensign in the U.S. Navy, and was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Killingholme, England.  He returned to the U.S. in November of 1918 and was discharged from the Navy in 1919.  He enjoyed a long life, passing away in 1964 and he is interred in the Dale Cemetery in Ossining, New York. 

Although this coat was made in 1900, there is no question that it is a Pattern 1872 Officer’s Undress Coat, made in the exact same style and decorated in the exact same manner as those made during the height of the Indian Wars.  

The coat presents in as close to “like new” condition as is possible, having been worn.  There is no mothing, wear spots, or damage of any kind to the dark blue wool.  The wool is very solid with no weak points, and no open seams.  There is no wear to the collar, cuffs, or bottom edge of the blouse - unusual to find on these original uniforms.    

The collar, front and bottom edges, the back, and sleeve cuffs are all trimmed with the regulation black mohair braid.  The most notable decorations to the coat are the trefoils on the front of the coat, applied in pairs to the right and left of each of the five buttons, and two vertical strips of mohair trim topped with the trefoils on the coat back.  (The trefoils were referred to in the regulations as “herring-bone loops”.)  As dictated in the regulations, each sleeve is decorated with “a knot of black braid…..on the upper part of the cuff”.  All of the mohair braid is fully intact, securely sewn with no loose spots, and in overall excellent condition with no fading or wear. 

The five original Indian War era buttons with the distinctive “I” for infantry in the center of the shield are intact down the front of the blouse.  There are three matching “I” cuff sized buttons at the cuff of each sleeve.  While these sleeve buttons were not included in the regulations, some officers chose to add them.      

The body of the coat is lined with black/dark green polished satin and the sleeves are lined with tan striped satin.  These linings are all in excellent condition with no damage, and only a very few, very minor, points of wear.  There are no holes, just places where the lining surface is worn.     

Due to the day to day wear the coats were subjected to, and that they were worn into field, and then coupled with the limited number of officers in the army during the Indian War, these coats are not particularly common.  This is a very respectable example of the desirable Indian War Officer’s Pattern 1872 Undress Coat, one which would be an attractive addition to your collection, and would be difficult to upgrade. (0532) $1875  



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