13057 US Navy Midshipman, 1810-15

W. Britains

During the early years of the U.S. Navy, a midshipman was an apprentice officer and was trained and served in a similar fashion as those in the British Royal Navy. After at least three successful year’s service, the young men were eligible to take an examination to become a junior officer. While there are many portraits of officers in the early 19th century, there are few illustrations of the dress of the lower ranks and seamen. As in earlier periods, the American navy wore similar dress as its British counterpart as a large number of drawings and paintings survive to attest. This young officer in training wears a simple uniform coat of dark blue with the lapels buttoned across and carries a naval pattern dirk suspended from his waist belt that may have been purchased from an English maker.

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