Muskets Issued To Ohio Regiments

When the Civil War broke out Gen. Jacob D. Cox toured Ohio's state arsenal and found 'a few boxes ofsmooth-bore muskets which had once been issued to militia companies and had been returned rusted and damaged. No belts, cartridge boxes, or other accoutrements were with them'. Still, plans had to be made to handle the 10,000 expected volunteers. 'There was no time to procure uniforms', Cox recalled, 'nor was it desirable; for those companies had chosen their own, and would have to change it for that of the United States as soon as this could be furnished.' Therefore, he wrote, 'fancy uniforms were left at home, and some approximation to a simple and useful costume was made. The recent popular outburst in Italy furnished a useful idea, and the "Garibaldi uniform" of a red flannel shirt with broad falling collar, with blue trousers held by a leathern waist-belt, and a soft [black] felt hat for the head, was extensively copied and served an excellent purpose. It could be made by the wives and sisters at home, and was all the more acceptable for that. The spring was opening and a heavy coat would not be much needed, so that with some sort of overcoat and a good blanket in an improvised knapsack, the new company was not badly-provided'.

So it was that most of Ohio's 1861 volunteers went to war in red flannel shirts, blue (sometimes grey) trousers, and black, broad-brimmed hats. Thereafter, the state planned to dress the volunteers in uniforms 'so near that of the regular army, that no change would be required on going into the L'S

65th New York Volunteers

The 65th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the 1st US Chasseurs and the 1st Grenadier Regiment, wore New York Chasseur jackets trimmed with light blue, and grey trousers. Their caps were made from issue caps with the peaks and chinstraps removed; the state seal was worn above the regimental number as a cap badge. This private holds one of the M1861 Springfield rifled muskets issued to the regiment; the leather gloves were not issue. (David Scheinmann collection)

The 65th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the 1st US Chasseurs and the 1st Grenadier Regiment, wore New York Chasseur jackets trimmed with light blue, and grey trousers. Their caps were made from issue caps with the peaks and chinstraps removed; the state seal was worn above the regimental number as a cap badge. This private holds one of the M1861 Springfield rifled muskets issued to the regiment; the leather gloves were not issue. (David Scheinmann collection)

service'. The state went as far as to buy 8,000 regulation dress coats, complete with brass shoulder scales, to issue until the US government could take over supply responsibilities, which happened in 1862. Until then, Ohio troops were to receive dark blue flannel blouses, sky blue trousers, and dark blue forage caps. Cavalry and light artillery were issued dark blue jackets trimmed in yellow and red respectively.

As it turned out, Ohio could not obtain enough blue wool, and grey uniforms had to be issued to a number of units instead. Greyjackets were made for 5,000 infantrymen, and were issued to—among others—the 15th, 17th, 19th, and 20th Ohio Infantry Regiments. Grey trousers went to the 15th which received grey striped trousers), 16th (also striped), 17th, 18th, 20th (also striped), and 22nd also striped) Ohio Infantry Regiments. Grey overcoats went to the 16th Ohio Infantry, while the 21st and 22nd received black overcoats.

In April 1863 the state formed an 'Ohio Volunteer Militia'. This unit was to wear 'the uniform prescribed for the United States Army for the time being, except the coat of arms, which shall be that of the State of Ohio'.

The letters 'OVM' appeared on a US Army-style oval brass belt plate and a cartridge box plate, worn not only by the Ohio Volunteer Militia of 1863 but also by early Ohio volunteer infantry regiments of 1861 and 1862. A circular shoulder belt plate with the insignia which became the state coat of arms, but otherwise like the US Army's eagle plate, was also worn by some volunteers in 1861. Sword belt plates were 'gilt, rectangular, two inches wide, with a raised bright rim; a silver wreath encircling the arms of the state of Ohio', according to the 1859 General Regulations J'nr the Military Forces of Ohio. There were, however, no special state buttons.

In 1861 Ohio acquired 15,020 M1842 muskets, 26,533 US-made muskets that had been converted from flintlock, 5,020 Prussian 0.72-cal. muskets, n,480 Pi858 Enfield rifled muskets, 4,991 0.69-cal. L'S-made muskets, and a couple of thousand other assorted types of muskets in small batches. These went to arm their initial infantry volunteers. Ohio also received 200 Joselyn carbines, 1,000 Sharps carbines, and 500 Colt army revolvers for her cavalry, along with 2,500 cavalry sabres. The Ohio Volunteer Militia received an equally odd mixture oflongarms, ranging in calibre from 0.54 to 0.71.

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