Category Archives: Spanish-American War

Tropical Disease and the History of Military Head Nets


An American Army tropical “Pressed Fiber” helmet and mosquito net from the Vietnam War era of the late 1960s (Author’s Collection)

The military sun helmet was introduced to save lives, not from bullets or even spears but from quite literally from the sun. The European soldiers – first the British but later the French, Belgian, Spanish, Portuguese and Germans – fell victim to sun stroke and heat stroke in their respective newly obtained colonies. The sun helmet offered protection from the sun and along with better tropical clothing likely helped save countless lives beginning in the second half of the 19th century.

The other problem facing soldiers as well as diplomats, colonists and workers was tropical disease. Among the most deadly was yellow fever. Even today in many tropical regions – especially Africa and South America – yellow fever continues to be a major problem. Today nearly a billion people live in an area of the world where the disease is common. Yellow fever originated in Africa but spread to South America through the slave trade in the 17th century, and since that time there have been major outbreaks in the Americas, Africa and even Europe. Continue reading

The Original Camouflage: Khaki Part VII – Khaki’s Use by the Americans


An early 20th century post card that shows the transition from U.S. Blue to Khaki

It wasn’t just the Europeans or the Japanese who utilized khaki, as so too did the American military, which first adopted khaki during the Spanish America War in 1898. Until that time the United States Army was outfitted with the M1883 fatigue blouse in blue. However, the large numbers of volunteers – as well as the fact that soldiers were falling prey to heat exhaustion and dehydration – forced the army to experiment with lighter-colored and lighter-weight materials. The United States thus adopted the “khaki cotton drill” and in 1903 the army authorized these as the official hot weather fatigue and field dress. Continue reading

MAX Show 2012: Sun Helmets and Other Militaria

MAX1The 25th annual Military Antiques Xtravaganza (MAX) Show took place in Monroeville, outside of Pittsburgh. This 1,500 table show is one of the two largest shows in North America and attracted dealers from around the world. As with past years there was far too much to see, but here is a recap of the sights of the 2012 MAX Show. Continue reading