After several months of searching for a project to coincide with our participation with the AMFS Show in Feb 2020 we’ve made a decision on a project. June 24th the Board of Directors announced approval for funding the preservation of 2 unique items at the South Carolina Relic Room and Museum. Both are pieces of headgear and both important in interpreting South Carolina history.
The first artifact is an 18thc. Militia Bicorne owned by James Willis Canty.
James Willis Cantey was born in Camden, South Carolina in 1794. He was involved in the Creek War (1813-1814) as sergeant of Freeman’s Squadron Company commanded by Capt. John Irwin. He was commended for his gallantry at the time of his discharge. Cantey continued to demonstrate strong leadership and service to the state of South Carolina throughout his life. In 1821, he became sheriff of Kershaw District. In 1833, he was elected Brigadier-General, and a decade later he became Adjutant and Inspector General of South Carolina. He represented Kershaw in the State Legislature from 1846-1848. When he died in 1860, his obituaries noted that he was “a highly accomplished officer” and “much esteemed for his social qualities.”
James W. Cantey’s bicorn militia hat was donated to the SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in 1967 by his grandson, Major Edward B. Cantey who served honorably in World War I. Embroidered on the hat is a motto of South Carolina, “Animis Opibusque Parati” (“Prepared in Mind and Resources”). z
The second item and, I think very unique, is a hand made Marsh Grass hat belonging to General Johnson Hagood.
About Johnson Hagood
Johnson Hagood was raised in Barnwell District, and he graduated from the Citadel in 1847. He studied law and admitted to the bar in 1850. Part of the state militia before the war, he was elected colonel of the First regiment and aided in the reduction of Fort Sumter. He was then sent to Virginia and participated in 1st Manassas (July 1861). Soon after he was sent back to SC and served in various operations around Charleston, including the battle of Secessionville, (June 1862). He was then promoted to brigadier-general. He remained in the Charleston area until May 1864 and then was ordered back to Virginia. Here his brigade fought in some of the most intense battles of the spring including Walthall Junction and Drury Bluff in May 1864. In June his brigade fought at Cold Harbor and then became part of the force defending Petersburg. During the long siege his unit served in the trenches for 67 straight days and played critical roles in holding the line against large Federal attacks. In December 1864 his unit was sent to Fort Fisher to help defend Wilmington, NC. After its fall Hagood’s force participated in the battles of Kinston and Bentonville before surrendering with the remains of his brigade of 500 (whose strength in May 1864 was 2,300).
After the war he was involved in throwing out the Reconstruction government in 1876 and became elected Comptroller-general. In 1880 he was elected governor of South Carolina. ffffffffff
A soldier of Hagood’s Brigade presented this marsh grass hat to Brigadier General Johnson Hagood when they were stationed on James Island in 1862 around the time of the Battle of Secessionville. The hat first appears in the ledgers of the SC Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum under the heading “Relics secretly given to the Relic Room” in 1937.
SCCRRMM displayed the hat on permanent exhibit for years until it was clear the hat had become unstable. Each time the hat is moved, silk fragments fall off. The layer of grime on the hat needs to be cleaned since acids in the dirt will eat away at the lining and silk. Attention from conservators will allow SCCRRMM to have this hat on display for the first time in over a decade.
We are very excited to again support the South Carolina Relic Room and Museum. We hope to have both of these items on display at the AMFS Show next Feb. I’ll add more info as the project more progress.