Both figures on this plate are taken from original photographs, and show how the personal whim of individual officers led to numerous non-regulation styles being worn on active service. The black felt hat could be 'punched up' in the crown to resemble a dunce's cap, which style, though appearing slightly ridiculous, was favoured by General Burnside and extensively copied by his staff. The more usual method of wearing the hat (as shown on the other figure) resembled the full dress style. General McDowell wore a pith helmet as a protection from the sun; it was described as 'like an inverted washbowl'.
Regulation undress uniform consisted of a plain dark blue frock-coat, double-breasted with buttons arranged according to rank as in full dress, with a standing collar; and plain dark blue trousers. In this plate are illustrated two versions, one longer and one shorter than the regulation, both with turned-down collars and one with cut lapels, both revealing the shirt-collar. This type of garment was often worn without rank-bars; indeed, even Ulysses Grant was described on various occasions as being almost indistinguishable from a Union private or even a civilian! Just before Antietam, Burnside was thus described:
'dressed so as to be almost unrecognizable as a general officer; wore a rough blouse on the collar of which a close look revealed two much-battered and faded stars, indicating his rank ... he wore a black 'Slouch' hat, the brim well down over his face.'
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