First Lieutenant 2nd Rhode Island Infantry

American Civil War Uniforms

This first lieutenant of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry shows the distinctive early war uniform of this state's "first 90-days regiments." The pleated blouse with the full skirt and the rolled collar, would be very little seen after 1861, and future Rhode Island outfits opted for the more traditional Union Army uniform. Again, like most infantry officers, he carries the .44 caliber Colt "New Model Army" pistol, which, while a powerful percussion weapon, was not terribly accurate. Just firing it required a man with fortitude, for its recoil was substantial. Reflecting the tradition that still bound the army, an officer carried his pistol in a holster that required drawing it with the left hand, thus freeing the right hand for drawing the saber, despite the fact that bullets inflicted hundreds of wounds for every edged weapon wound. Tradition died hard. The sword being carried here is a Model 1850 foot officer's sword.

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