This post concerns itself with one of my pet peeves: “reenactorisms” in the area of living history. For our purposes, reenactorisms are those practices or beliefs that are derived by the reenactors themselves rather than being based in what is historically accurate. As part of this, a reenactorism can be a practice based on a flawed interpretation of original sources that has over time become accepted as “truth” and this is especially evident in the area of uniforms and equipment.
One particular item that this has become applied to is with Feldmützen or Mutzes as more commonly known in English. The Feldmütze was a cap that was meant to be worn while performing routine everyday duties- the duty uniform for want of another word. The Picklehaube was worn on more formal occasions such as parades. In short, the army’s idea of “casual wear”.
Feldmützenwere somewhat pillbox in shape although there was some variation in the cut. On the front there were two cockades, the top one was the Reich or national cockade with the German national colors. The bottom one was the cockade of whatever German state the regiment the wearer was in belonged to. In our case, it would be the Bavarian cockade in colors of blue and white.
Below are a few examples:
Now, where the problem comes in is that Feldmützen were also made where the sides did not flare or taper out but rather were simply straight up like a stovepipe. Below is one example of this:
But somehow, for reasons that I don’t completely understand, the “stovepipe” Feldmütze has become the defacto standard and any attempt to utilize ones with any “flop: has been met with derision. This is an example of a reenactorism and if allowed to progress unchecked, it skews our impressions and bu extension, misrepresents history. Now granted that this is hardly the end of the world BUT it does demonstrate the Lemming-like tendencies of reenactors when it comes to acquiring their uniforms without having done any research of their own.
So, how does this tie back to the 2 Chevauleger? Well, below are some pictures of various Chevaulegers wearing their Feldmützen and we can lay this reenactorism to rest once and for all:
To continue, here is a picture that illustrates all the various “styles” that Feldmützen could come in. Because of the decentralized nature of the German uniform procurement during the First World War, each Army Corp area contracted directly with vendors so there could be a wide variation from the official army standard.
The above picture is humorous, entitled “A Sunday with no money” which seems to symbolize the universal soldier’s situation. Note the variety of Feldmützen with this group- some stovepipe, some more tapered.
I hope the above pictures have dispel this reenactorism, at least when it comes to the 2 Chevauleger. Unfortunately, far too many reenactors and “living historians” tend to follow the herd in that they listen to one or more “expert” opinions without having ever verified the assertions being made. In the years that I have been a reenactor, I have increasingly found that the more I learn, the less I actually KNOW. 🙂