Pre-American Civil War Providence Horse Guards militia helmet. They sure had style back then. Some of these men formed the nucleus of the First Rhode Island Cavalry who served with great distinction during the U.S. Civil War. Rhode Island’s citizen militias helped make our state regiments some of the most effective units for the Union cause.
Our Rhode Island United Train of Artillery leather cap (purportedly worn during the Revolution by Benajah Carpenter) has safely returned to the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia,PA.
Carpenter was killed in action at the Battle of Long Island presumably while wearing it. One of the rarest and historically most significant objects in our collection, the hat is one of only a very small handful of U.S. military hats from the Revolutionary War that survive today.
“For our Country” and, in Latin, “In God We Hope” adorns the front of the wavy bill. This is an American treasure and the Varnum Continentals are happy to have shared it with tens of thousands of people from across the nation.
Here’s another small (but fascinating) piece of history tucked away in the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum. This is a piece of the famed US Frigate “Constitution”, known as “Old Ironsides” for its defeat of five British warships during the War of 1812.
The piece was owned by Rear Admiral John R. Bartlett of Lonsdale, RI, who served with distinction from the American Civil War until the Spanish American War. He was also a founding member of the National Geographic Society. His friend, Captain Henry Greene Jackson, was an early Varnum Continentals member who donated it to us in 1936.
At the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum, we have a Model 1885 Cavalry Officer’s great coat with cape. It’s in remarkable condition. It was loaned to us in 1939 by General Glines. It was used by the Rhode Island State Cavalry Guard.