The Uniform Of Principal Musician -13th Coast Artillery Corps


Fabulous identified 13th Coast Artillery principal musician’s 1895 pattern coat.

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This Model 1895/ 1912 undress coat was worn by a principal musician in the 13th Coast Artillery Corps.  This coat differs from the officers pattern lacking the left side opening for hanging the sword (the sword belt being worn inside the coat).  The significant change in 1912 was the widening of the mohair trim from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. On the collar are is a pair of musician’s lyres he wore while serving with the 13th CAC, and the enlisted “U.S.” insignias.

The sleeves are adorned with the 1902-16 principal musicians chevrons, and a weighty assemblage of seven service stripes representing a long career in the artillery branch with the exception to one hitch with the U.S. Engineer Band (red piped white).

The uniform is complete with the addition of a miniature 13th CAC gold field medal, made by Dieges & Clust. The medal is fine with most of the original gilt, and the gilt “13” in the red enamel center of the crossed cannons. The ribbon shows wear in one area that has been shored up with fabric glue, and not easily seen unless right up on it.

The lining is excellent showing little wear; the right sleeve lining having Mill’s initials written there.  The exterior of the coat retains good color and has only a few issues such as small moth holes here and there (less than a half dozen 1/8″ diameter or less), there is a tear on the back left spine area and has a period repair (have photographed that with a few aforementioned holes, these on the mohair trim).


Finding a uniform like this is most important for a collector, not only having a visual record of service on the coat, and matching condition, but the best of all circumstances….an identification!

Robert J. Mills, enlisted on 3 January, 1885, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when at the age of 22 years of age, beginning his career in the 2nd U.S. Artillery Band. He served at Fort Adams, R.I., transferring to the 5th U.S. Artillery Band in 1896, then serving at Fort Hamilton, N.Y.  While at New York, Mills began another re-enlistment with the 10th U.S. Artillery Band until transferring to the U.S. Engineer Band on 7 June, 1903, at Washington, D.C.. In 1906 transferred to the 2nd Coast Artillery Band.  In 1907, Mills with another reenlistment under his belt, was assigned to the 13th Coast Artillery Band, then at Ft. Williams, Me., and would remain with that unit until his discharge in 1914.  Although I did not mention every reenlistment, obviously there were many, and all that information is included the the uniform (photo copied records)

On 23, July, 1914, Robert Mills was discharged for disability for heart and kidney problems.  He was initially treated at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington on 21 March of 1914 and was transferred the U.S. Soldier’s Home, Washington. He died there on 17 December of that year.

There are several copies of documents concerning pension claims for Mills’ significant other, and from others witnessing to her claim.

This is a most desirable uniform for history and pattern. It was one of the favorite pieces of Robert Borrell, a 50 year artillery collector.  He wrote an article for the Trading Post, the journal for The American Society of Military Insignia Collectors (ASMIC) for this very uniform a number of years ago. I have included a copy of that article including photos from the article.