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Admiral Dewey’s Chapeau Bras
Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Admiral Dewey’s Chapeau Bras

Catalog #: 1984.0834.08    Accession #: 1984.0834
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History


Webb and Bonella

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 8.5" H x 7" W x 21" D

Physical Description

Black felt, grosgrain ribbon, ostrich feathers and gold cockade, which is a ribbon rose or knot.

Specific History

Admiral Dewey is often pictured wearing his chapeau bras.

General History

A chapeau bras is a type of hat made to be compressed and carried under the arm without injury. Quite literally it translates as “hat arm.” Such hats were worn on dress occasions by gentlemen in the 18th century. It was a popular style to be worn with a dress uniform. Admiral George Dewey was in command of the U.S. Navy’s Asiatic Squadron based in Hong Kong in 1898 when the U.S. declared war on Spain. Commanded to sail to Manila and capture or destroy the Spanish fleet based there, he engaged the fleet in Manila Bay early May 1 and completely destroyed it by noon, without a single loss of American life. The Battle of Manila Bay was one of two major American naval victories in the Spanish-American War. It was a complete and final victory, ending any threat from the Spanish naval forces involved. All major Spanish ships were destroyed or captured, without any significant damage occurring to the American Forces. The battle is perhaps best known as the occasion Dewey uttered one of the most famous statements in American naval history, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” Captain Charles Gridley was the commander of the USFS Olympia.


Countries: Philippines, United States
War: Spanish American War
Service: Navy
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