Texas Hat Stars

Civil War soldiers wore lone star pins on their uniforms

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During the Civil War, uniforms and equipment varied from state to state and regiment to regiment. The five-pointed star is an emblem used by Texans going back to the beginnings of the Texas Revolution. During the Civil War, Texas soldiers sometimes wore the Lone Star insignia on their hats and clothing. Some stars were professionally made, while most were more simply made.

A star pinned or sewn to hats or jackets is associated with troops from Texas. Since the word “Texas” is five letters, it lends itself to be engraved or stamped in the five points of the star which helps identify a particular hat star as belonging to a Texas soldier. Most of the hat stars in this exhibit collection can be identified as being worn by Texas soldiers during the Civil War. They were excavated from a widespread variety of camp sites or battlegrounds from New Mexico to Pennsylvania.

The popularity of Texas hat stars can be read in a diary account from Val C. Giles, a Confederate soldier in the 4th Texas Infantry Regiment. After having his photo taken at William Bridgers' gallery in Austin, he wrote:

“While Bridgers was placing me in position for this ambrotype, he suggested that I would look more fierce and military if I would pin one side of my hat back with a star. He had a supply of stars on hand, which he sold for a dollar apiece.”
Rags and Hope: The Recollections of Val C. Giles, Four Years with Hood’s Brigade Fourth Texas Infantry, 1861-1865.

Hat stars came in a variety of materials and qualities. Some are made of cheaper materials like brass and tin, while others are made from more expensive silver or silver alloys. Many were hand made and adapted for wearing on hats or clothing, but some like the one mentioned by Val Giles were mass produced. The hat pins proclaimed a soldier’s loyalty to his unit, his state, and his cause.

The five-pointed star symbol was commonly used by Mississippians and some Confederate troops from other states as well. The Union XX Corps even had a red cloth star that they wore on their hats.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Texas Hat Stars Artifact from Houston, TX
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