Butternut 1865

As the Confederacy declined and the Federal blockade tightened, the Confederate uniform underwent a gradual change in colour from grey to that illustrated in this plate. Once the supply of grey cloth had run out, the material was dyed with 'butternut' (nut-shells and rust being a common concoction) which produced an endless variety of brown, buff and light khaki shades. This dress, often combined with captured Federal items and pieces of civilian clothing, was in a way a rudimentary form of camouflage, and led to the nickname of

4th Texas Company

57 4th Texas Volunteers.

a) Sergeant, Company B'.

3rd Texas Cavalry

58 3rd Texas Infantry.

a) Private, Campaign Dress.

b) Corporal, Campaign Dress.

Flag 3rd Texas Infantry

59 Infantry in 'Butternut', 1865.

1862 Union Uniform

60 Artillery.

a) Captain, Full Dress.

b) Gunner, Service Dress.

'Butternuts' being bestowed upon the Confederate troops by the Federals. As early as 1862 this type of dress was in use: Union reports spoke of hundreds of Confederate dead at South Mountain (14 September 1862) dressed in 'coarse butternut-colored uniforms . . . very ugly in appearance but well calculated to conceal them from our troops . . .'. It is possible that some Southern militia units were so dressed even before the outbreak of war. The miserable, ragged company which ended the war in 1865 bore little resemblance to the finely-dressed volunteers who had begun it.

The two 'uniforms' illustrated are taken from contemporary photographs; both men wear battered felt hats and ragged, patched clothing. The fashion of wearing the trousers tucked into the socks was very popular in both armies. The equipment was reduced to a minimum, generally consisting of only haversack, canteen and tin mug, the remainder having been thrown away, lost, or never issued. Cartridge-pouches were rarely used, it being easier to carry the cartridges loose in the pockets. Leather equipment was often issued in 'natural' or brown colouring when the supply of black dye ran out. One of the men illustrated has a captured Federal 'gum blanket', the rubber-muslin 'poncho' being used as a shoulder-roll to contain what would not fit into the haversack. After late 1862 the shortage of shoes in the Confederate army was desperate; leather was scarce or unavailable, so in many cases 'utility' or substitute shoes being made: those illustrated are of the type made by nailing leather onto a wooden sole, with old horse-shoes fastened underneath as boot-irons. Other inventions included shoes made of felt (!), gumwood and (in Florida), shoes made of the weed 'kip-leather', claimed by the inventor to be equal to the best French leather. Old saddles and Palmetto-stalks were other ingredients.

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  • ferruccio monaldo
    Did any texas units in the civil war wear butternut?
    8 years ago

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