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Phineas Meigs’ Hat

Phineas Meigs’ Hat  Probably 1760sProbably 1760s
Gift of Col. Phineas Meigs, 1850.10.0

Every object can tell a story, but some objects tell great stories. Such is the case of the “round hat” belonging to Phineas Meigs. The simple round hat was the baseball cap of the 1700s, worn by tradesmen, farmers, even militiamen. Despite their widespread popularity, only a handful of these hats survive today.

In 1782 Meigs, an elderly veteran of the French and Indian War and a local militiaman, responded to an armed British incursion along the shore near his home, present day Madison. The ensuing skirmish claimed the lives of a British soldier and Meigs, who was fatally shot through the head while wearing this hat. Ironically, the war was coming to a close, and Meigs, who by all rights could easily have let others respond to the alarm, claims the dubious honor of being Connecticut’s last known battlefield casualty of the Revolution. Today Meigs’ hat serves as a poignant reminder that the Revolution was fought by very real people, who made very real sacrifices in winning our independence.