Colonel William Goddard's Civil War Kepi
August 8, 2013 | CMH Museum Artifacts - Pieces of History
By Col. (Ret.) Robert J. Dalessandro, Julia Simon, and Dr. Charles Cureton
This chasseur-style kepi, patterned on the French counterpart popular on the eve of Civil War, belonged to William Goddard (1825-1907) of Warwick, Rhode Island. Goddard was an officer in the 1st Light Infantry of Providence, a celebrated unit of the Rhode Island Militia.
In April 1861, the First Regiment of Rhode Island Detached Militia was activated for three months in response to President Lincoln's call for troops. Goddard was selected to serve as an aide-de-camp to the thirty-year-old "Boy Governor" of Rhode Island, William Sprague. In this capacity, he marched with the regiment from Annapolis, Maryland, to Washington, D.C., to help defend the capital. Goddard later served as the regimental "second major," fighting at the First Battle of Bull Run.
After the regiment completed its service in August 1861, Goddard returned to civilian life. Then, in 1862, he volunteered as aide-de-camp to Major General Ambrose Burnside while Burnside was the commander of the Army of the Potomac. Resigning after the December 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg debacle, Goddard again returned to civilian life but stayed active with the state militia, where he was brevetted as colonel and later brigadier general. Goddard's kepi likely dates from this period.
The kepi features the French quatrefoil, which designates rank by the number of cords-colonel, in this case. The central device is a wreath surrounding the script letters "R I," representing Rhode Island, in lieu of the Army regulation insignia for a member of the general staff of the United States Army-a wreath surrounding the letters "US." The kepi buttons are the Army regulation standard general staff pattern.
This kepi is part of a complete colonel's uniform once worn by Goddard and is now in the U.S. Army's core collection.
This chasseur-style Civil War kepi belonged to William Goddard, an officer in the 1st Light Infantry of Providence, a celebrated Rhode Island militia unit.