This is an example of a U.S. Army Signal Corps 1895 Pattern dress coat worn by Capt. William "Billy" Mitchell (1879-1936).
Mitchell volunteered as a private in the First Wisconsin Regimen in April 1899 so that he could participate in the Spanish American war. His father John, a senator from Wisconsin, used his influence and had his son commissioned as a First Lieutenant in a signal company. The war ended before Mitchell could reach combat but he would serve in the occupation of Cuba. Mitchell decided to make a career of army service and would service in the Philippines during the insurrection. In an effort to consolidate American claims on the Alaskan territory, gain some notoriety surveying and constructing a 1700 mile long telegraph. For his efforts he was promoted and became the youngest captain in the Army at the age of 24.
Following his service in Alaska, Mitchell served with the Signal Corp at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Here he was an assistant instructor specializing in field telegraphy, telephones, and field communication. During his time at Leavenworth, Mitchell first became involved in aviation studying the military use of observation balloons and he also wrote a paper on the potential battlefield utility of a dirigible. In 1905, he returned to the Pacific and visited the Japanese and Russian battlefields. His reports caught the attention of army leadership and was brought to Washington to serve on the General Staff.
In 1916, Mitchell was assigned to the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corp. It was his desire to learn to fly but the army considered him old and high ranking for pilot training. Mitchell responded to this by learning to fly on his own paying for paid for private lessons.
During World War I, Mitchell served as the American aviation representative in Paris to the joint Allied Command. He would gain some notoriety for organizing the mass use of over 1500 allied aircraft during the Battle of St. Mihiel.
Following the war, Mitchell became a vocal proponent of the future of airpower.
Donated by Mrs. Thomas Byrd
Dark blue wool U.S. Army 1895 Pattern dress long coat; double breasted frock with 2 rows of 7 gold buttons with U.S. Army insignia on button; 4 gold buttons on tails; stiff collar with red and gold trim; Captain rank insignia on epaulets; gold aiguilette on left shoulder; Signal Corps crossed flag insignia on each cuff; gold embroidery on each cuff.