Lieutenant US Navy and First Lieutenant US Marine Corps

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Officers of the Union Navy looked very smart indeed in their crisp blue uniforms. The lieutenant at left wears the optional white trousers with his dark blue tunic, capped with a white service hat. As was common among the lower commissioned officer ranks, his insignia matched, although, unfortunately for this officer, promotion in the Union Navy in the Civil War was extremely slow, so he would probably have been wearing the same insignia at the war's end.

His friend on the right, a First Lieutenant of Marines, shows the considerable similarities between Marine and Army uniforms, the only significant differences being the insignia and in the gold lace around the collar. There were very few officer positions in the Marine Corps and, as a result, opportunities for advancement for this officer would have been even more scarce than for the naval lieutenant on the left. Few such officers remained in the service after the war's close.

Military Uniforms America PlatesUnion Navy Uniform Civil War

The highest rank in the prewar Union Navy was that of rear admiral and this continued during the war, although David Glasgow Farragut was so successful that he was eventually promoted to become America's first full rank admiral, which he achieved on July 25, 1866. He is shown here as a rear admiral, in the correct uniform with an admiral's shoulder strap of a fouled anchor flanked by two stars, and cuff rings, composed of two sets of three flanked by a single ring top and bottom. His cap also bears two gold bands with the badge of a wreath containing two stars.

The custom of presenting deluxe swords to army officers has already been described, but the practice also extended to naval officers. After the capture of Mobile Bay, an appreciative Northern public rushed to honor Rear Admiral

Farragut and, among others, a grateful City of New York provided him with both an elegant home and the beautifully finished and engraved presentation sword, which is seen here resting a on a chart of the scene of his triumph.

Civil War Corps Badges Information

Every vessel of the U.S. Navy carried a few Marines, who were as smart then as they are today, as demonstrated by these uniforms. On the left is a sergeant's field frock coat, with his badges of rank in gold braid on each sleeve and a white belt, with bayonet frog and cartridge pouch. On the right is a full-dress, double-breasted coat with collar and cuff embellishments and the shoulder-scales, which were mandatory at all times in this order of dress.

Union Marine Frock CoatMarine Corps Dress Blues BeltBullion Bugle Insignia

The Marines' full-dress headgear was a high-crowned kepi with a large plate badge, which bore the national shield and an infantry bugle containing a silver "M" on a red backing and was topped by a red pom-pom. The field cap was a low-crowned kepi in blue cloth with a black leather peak and an infantry bugle, also inset with a silver "M" on a Right: A line-up of Federal Marines, red backing. with the officer on the left.

Federal KepiArmy First Lieutenant

Union Naval Arms and Accouterments

The Union Navy was well-equipped and expanded rapidly as the war progressed, but, unlike the Confederate Navy, the equipment and armament improved as the war progressed and as iron ships replaced obsolete wooden vessels. Having started as a minor force, the U.S. Navy grew into a major player in the defeat of the Confederacy and emerged as a steam navy with a small fleet in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

National Flag as displayed by warships of the Union Navy during the Civil War

Pike used by Union sailors in hand-to-hand combat when boarding Confederate warships Navigator s parallel ruler of the type used aboard Union warships Presentation case containing 1862 design of Navy Medal of Honor as awarded to Union sailors for conspicuous gallantry in battle. The medal was struck by Wm. Wilson & Son of Philadelphia, Pa U.S. Navy Model 1842 muzzle-

Bayonet Knife 1842Trimmed With Gold Fringe

separately, as a "bowie" knife, with its protective scabbard

9 Union naval officer's cutlass of Model 1860 design

10 Union naval officer's cutlass of Model 1841 design. Note that the Model

1860 has a single edge, while the Model 1841 is double-edged loading, percussion-fired pistol, complete with integral ramrod Leather case, usually worn on the waist-band, containing primers Stand of grape shot of type used in close-quarter sea battles and intended specifically as an anti-personnel weapon

Dahlgren-manufactured bayonet, which could be employed either as an attachment to a musket, or,

US Navy Revolver: the Model 1851 Colt Navy

The Model 1851 Colt Navy was one of the most popular and widely used sidearms of the war, and was standard issue for all naval officers. It was also carried by field officers in many infantry and artillery regiments. It had an octagonal barrel with a bead foresight and a six-chambered cylinder, and weighed 39 ounces (1.1kg). It fired a .36 inch (9.1mm) caliber ball or conical bullet and was capable of reasonable accuracy at 50 yards or more in good hands. With the hammer at half-] cock, the cylinder could be turned freely until an empty chamber was positioned beneath the rammer] under the barrel. Powder was then poured in, followed by a ball, which was all then rammed home by the lever-operated rammer. A percussion cap was then placed on the nipple at the rear of the cylinder, and the: cylinder was then rotated to the next empty chamber, and so on until all six were ready for use.

Ames Short SwordShort Sword 1842Navy Cutlass Measures

U.S. Navy Cutlasses

Two types of Ames cutlasses are shown. The two Ames brothers, Oakes and Nathan, each owned his own sword-making foundry, but instead of cooperating they fought each other viciously for U.S. Government contracts. Oakes Ames, of Chicopee, Mass., produced the Model 1860 navy cutlass shown in the center, with its copper-riveted leather scabbard above it. His I brother, Nathan P. Ames of Springfield, Mass., produced the I Model 1842 cutlass at the bottom;! note the fish-scaled brass hilti reminiscent of the Model 18331 artillery short sword. This weapon is I so short as almost to be a dirk. Naval | supply personnel constantly con-J fused one Ames with the other.

Marine Corps Navy Boarding

U.S. Navy Boarding Axe

There were few more violent hand-to-hand combats than when one ship "boarded" another, and there were some nasty weapons designed to be used in such actions. Among them was the boarding axe, of the type seen here, together with its purpose made holder and the Model 18621 belt from which the holder was! suspended. The Model 1862 has an I iron-frame, friction buckle, while j the other belt is an older pattern! with an simple brass hook.

Belt With Frocks PatternsInch Naval Shell

Pivot-mounted 11 -inch (280mm) Dahlgren Smoothbore

Perhaps the most responsible task to befall a naval officer was the oversight of a gun and its crew. Many different types of gun entered service with the U.S. Navy, but the larger rifles and smoothbores such as this Dahlgren 11-inch were the most likely to be found aboard sea-going sloops and cruisers.

This gun weighed some 16,0001b (8 US tons [7,258kg]) and could hurl a 1301b (59kg) shell nearly a mile. The rate of fire varied from rapid (two minutes per shot) to sustained (three minutes per shot), the gun being aimed by means of a sight-bar positioned on the breech and a front sight located between the trunnions.

The name "pivot" arose from the ingenious arrangement which enabled the gun to fire on either beam (since warships were very rarely engaged on both sides, simultaneously) using iron-shod wheels (trucks) by moving the carriage along overlapping iron bands, which were fixed to the deck I planking, thus allowing movement I over a full 360 degrees. The gun-1 crew, under command of a I lieutenant, used rope and tackle to ■ pull the gun out for firing and back for I loading, or to rotate it, either by small [ amounts for aiming or by large amounts to move the whole device to the other beam. When not in action, the gun was held firmly in 1 position on the pivot mount by screw-clamp compressors located on both I sides.

The most effective arrangement | for such guns was for a ship to carry I a minimum of three, preferably four, j with one forwards, one aft, and either I one or two amidships.

Gun drills were practiced endlessly, 1 but for most gun-crews in the Civil War 1 that was as much action as they ever saw, since few vessels saw much | combat, and many sailors never fired a hostile shot during the war at all.

Ournal Com


Carnage rollers and |Ournal

Transoms Hurter


Carnage rollers and |Ournal

Transoms Hurter

Marine Corps Mine Roller

Eye for shifting tackle

Dahlgren Gun Civil War

Right: Apart from sea-going warships, and river monitors, such as the USS Monitor herself, designed by John Ericcson, Dahlgren guns were also mounted to provide protection for forts and harbors

Eye for shifting tackle

Dahlgren Pivot Gun
Breeching Shifting trucks
Wooden Tompion

US Navy Gunnery Accessories

The wooden tompion, on the left, was used to plug the muzzle of a 9 inch (229mm) gun when not in use, its prime function being to keep out corrosive sea-spray. As was customary, the face of the tompion has been painted, in this case red, with the ring-pull backed by a Union star; both are made of brass, and would have been highly polished during the war. The leather pass-box (right), with strap and lid, was used to carry the projectile from the magazine or ready-use rack to the gun.

Css Alabama CrewAnd Civil War Uniforms

Confederate Sailor, CSS Alabama

No vessel of the Civil War attracted so much attention or excited more fear than the Confederate commerce raider, CSS Alabama. Its seemingly unopposed depredations around the globe sent panic through the Union's merchant fleet and provided a morale boost to those at home in the South. On board, unfortunately, Captain Raphael Semmes did not run the tightest of ships, largely because many of his crew were not from the Confederacy at all, but adventurers from many other nations, including Britain; a factor that was to gravely effect the Alabama's battle effectiveness in her final fight with USS Kearsarge. Still, he maintained discipline well enough and insisted that all his men be properly dressed. C.S.N, regulations called for gray cloth jackets and trousers in the fashion of the US Navy, or else a gray wool "frock" or shirt with a white duck collar and cuffs. Other articles such as hats, silk neckerchiefs, and shoes or boots were to be all black.

Csa Midshipman Ranks

C.S.N. Midshipman and V.M.I. Cadet

President Jefferson Davis once told one of his associates that the South could not afford to "grind up the seed corn," by which he meant that if there was to be any future leadership for the Confederacy, then it could not afford to put its youngest, brightest men at risk on the battlefield. What the Confederacy could do, was to attempt to train the brightest of its young men for leadership. No army academy on the lines of the Union's West Point ever opened its doors, but the Confederate Naval Academy did make some remarkable strides in the worst of conditions. The midshipman at left is a prime example of the young men trained and educated at public expense, and in the most realistic of all environments, on board ship. Note the row of buttons around his cuffs, which served as the badge of rank.

The Virginia Military Institute (V.M.I.) cadet on the right learned warfare the hard way by marching to glory against Sigel's forces in the Battle of New Market, in the Shenandoah "Valley," in May 1864. More than two hundred V.M.I, cadets, forever after dubbed "New Market Cadets," perished.Their youthful example created a tradition that has long outlasted their cause, instilling pride even today.

Virginia Military Institute Cadet CoatConfederate Navy Ranks

Confederate naval material is exceedingly rare. The dolphin-head naval officer's sword (25, 26. 27) is one of the most desirable objects in the whole field of Civil War collectibles.

10 11 12

Midshipman's cap Signal flag

Frock coat of Lt R. Dabney Minor Officer's belt with interlocking buckle Midshipman's revolver holster Adams revolver for item 5 Presentation sword of Capt. J. Tattnall,! U.S.N, (presumably captured) Sword case for item 7 Captain's sword, very closely modeled on British Royal Navy original Captain's sword Scabbard for item 10 Adams revolver Holster tor item 12 Lt. Minor's vest Hailing trumpet for use at sea

Adams Revolver BilderUniform Master Mate

16 Frock coat

17 Cap of Captain Raphael Semmes

18 Sword belt of master's mate of CSS Shenandoah

19 Signal flag

20 Epaulettes of Commodore Forrest

21 Captain Semmes' field glass

22 Naval cap

23 Lt. R Dabney Minor's uniform |acket

24 Uniform frock coat

25 C.S.N, officer's sword from CSS Alabama

26 Master's mate's sword

27 Commodore Forrest's sword

28 Log board

29 Compass

30 Lt. R. Dabney Minor's field glasses

31 Captain s insignia

32 Capt. Semmes's holster

33 Capt. Semmes s revolver

34 Clothes bag

Confederate Naval Officers' Insignia

As with their army officers' badges of rank, the Confederates deliberately designed naval insignia that would be different from that of the Old Union. Their shoulder straps particularly made their insignia more in keeping with that of officers of comparable rank in the Confederate Army. The most unusual feature was the creation of a regulation ranking of flag officer, traditionally an honorary position. The navy also mandated four admirals, though only one was ever appointed, and no insignia for that rank was ever officially prescribed, so we must assume that he wore flag officer insignia (which was similar to the arrangement in the army, where there was just one badge of rank for a general officer). The cuff stripes were a lot simpler and easier to identify than in the Union Navy, while the addition of insignia of rank to the cap gave an added recognition point. Again, as with Union officers, Confederates often observed regulations more in the breach than otherwise.

Passed Midshipman

First Lieutenant Company

Commander C.S.N, and First Lieutenant C.S. Marines, 1861

Confederate Navy Ranks

The men serving in the

Confederate naval forces suffered the greatest obscurity endured by any of those fighting for the South. Such was the nature of life in a war fought almost entirely on land. Most obscure of all were the Marines, like the first lieutenant of Marines at left. His uniform and his service are patterned largely on that of the old United States Marine Corps, though with a few differences reflecting the dress and insignia of the C.S. Army. By the same token, the uniform of the commander in the Confederate Navy, at right, owes much to the U.S. Navy. Significant differences include, or course, the color of the cloth, the sword, and the insignia being used.

For the unfortunate officer of the C.S. Marine Corps, so little is known more than a century later that some aspects of his uniform are still speculative. Service in this war would be frustrating for both officers, with opportunities to see action very few.

Franklin Buchanan

Admiral Franklin Buchanan,

Admiral Franklin Buchanan was a Marylander with a long and distinguished career in the old Union Navy to his credit before his conscience took him across the line to the Confederacy. Once in the gray, he saw an extensive and action-filled period of war service unequaled by any other naval commander. He commanded the CSS Virginia in her epic contest with the Federal fleet at Hampton Roads on March 8, 1862, and later commanded the CSS Tennessee in Mobile Bay.

The regulation Confederate States Navy uniform was a splendid, understated, gray woolen affair. His rank was indicated by the four rings of gold braid on his sleeves, the bullion-rimmed four stars on the blue-backed shoulder straps, and the four stars and fouled anchor on his cap. He carries the Model 1852 naval officer's sword and with it wears the prewar two-piece naval officer's belt plate. No better commander trod a deck. North or South.

Commodore Buchanan

Left: Admiral Franklin Buchanan was easily Farragut's counterpart, the Confederacy's most distinguished seaman. Only the Virginia and the

Tennessee really challenged Union warships, and Buchanan commanded both.

Confederate Marines

Confederate Naval Arms and Accouterments n naval terms, the Confederacy ran at a disadvantage and had to rely a great deal on imported weapons and other equipment, such as that shown at (2) and (4).

Confederate Second Corps

1 Confederacy Second National Bunting Flag, as displayed by warships and other vessels of the South

2 British Pattern 1859 cutlass-type design of bayonet, complete with protective scabbard, as used with item 4

3 Thomas, Griswold and Company design of naval cutlass with belt; note

Century Naval CutlassCutlass Belt Frog

used by sailors aboard Confederate warships

C.S.N, cutlass with fish-scale handle, complete with canvas waist belt and protective scabbard Firing mechanism for ship-borne cannon armament embarked on Confederate ships of the line the fastening buckle with its embossed CS motif British Wilson breechloading naval rifle (note crown), complete with ramrod in stowed position

Short-barreled signaling pistol used to fire warning flares or colors of the day Typical design of canvas sea-bag as

Confederate Naval Floating Torpedo

A Confederate "floating torpedo," a device which would now be known as a sea mine. These weapons usually consisted of a metal cylinder with a powder charge and buoyancy chamber. The charge could be detonated by means of a spring mechanism connected to a trigge wire floating on the surface, althougl more sophisticated designs were sa off with electrical or chemica detonators. Some of the earlla devices were electrically detonated from the shore, using galvanii batteries. They were attached by a cable to an anchor, which meant that when laid in tidal waters the depth of water between the "torpedo" and the surface (or, more importantly, the bottom of a passing ship] could vary widely

Laying Torpedoes Material 1864

substance, the box proclaiming that, 'For Shaving, Washing Sore and Chapped Hands, and for Cleaning the Teeth, it has no equal..--"

Seaman's Shaving Gear brush, and comb seen here. The shaving soap, produced by E. E. FIc of Brattleboro, in the State of Virginia, was, it would appear, a most ubiquitous

Usn Ditty Bag

substance, the box proclaiming that, 'For Shaving, Washing Sore and Chapped Hands, and for Cleaning the Teeth, it has no equal..--"

Seaman's Shaving Gear

Most sailors liked their whiskers, but all carried a shaving kit, with a ditty-bag filled with grooming articles, such as the cut-throat razor, shaving brush, and comb seen here. The shaving soap, produced by E. E. FIc of Brattleboro, in the State of Virginia, was, it would appear, a most ubiquitous

Seaman's Sewing Gear and General Artifacts

Sailors had, of necessity, to be very self-reliant and most managed to cram a great deal into the little storage space they were allowed. Some items which might be found in a typical Northern sailor's kit are seen here. They include a case of needles (center left), with two types of thimble, one metal, which slid over a finger (center), the other a leather device which looped over the thumb (top left). To finish off his uniform prior to going on watch or parade he needed a clothes brush (right), this one being complete with a naval issue cover. Other items include a small lantern (top center), dividers (bottom center), and a pocket compass.

Usn Ditty Bag

Sailmaker's Kit

Virtually all warships still had sails, so the sailmaker's skills were still of vital importance to the navy and to his ship. The sailmaker carried a ditty bag which was filled with the tools of his trade, such as a palm, needle case, beeswax, wooden fids, mallet, and seam rubbers. The braided rope whip (top left), though outlawed, was still used on occasions, and was likely also made by a sailmaker.

Sailmaker Museum

Carpenter's Tools

Carpenter Tools Wooden Box

Many ships were still built of wood and even an iron ship had a great deal of woodwork in it.

As a result, the carpenter was an essential member of the crew. These are a few of the tools of his

Shell Adze

trade, including the ship's plans, plane (left), adjustable square (center), scribe (right), and adze

(top) which was used for shaving timber.

Desk Items

Ship Officer's Desk Items

The contents of a typical ship officer's desk might have included his ship's nameplate (top), a parallel ruler (center), and a signal book (right). The canvas-covered journal contains the "General Orders for the government of U.S. Naval forces Comprising the Gulf | Blockading Squadron."

Carpenter Scribe Tool

Signaling Items

During the Civil War, many errors were made due to misunderstood signals. The difficulties of signaling at sea were well-known problems for every navy, but all watchkeepers had binoculars, and there was a copy of the signaling manual on every bridge.

Artifacts Kearsarge

General Naval Artifacts

Union National and Regimental Colors

Union Artifacts The

Federal regiments carried two colors, one national, the other regimental, which were taken to epitomize the honor and pride of the regiment. Such colors inevitably became the focal point for hostile fire in battle; the enemy made strenuous efforts to capture them and the regiment made equally strenuous efforts to defend them, with many deaths and wounds on both sides in consequence. An added feature of the colors was that the regiment's past battle honors were either painted or embroidered onto them, thus adding to their significance as a highly visible record of the regiment's past achievements.

In the Civil War, the colors were still carried in battle, their safety being entrusted to the color guard, and to be a member of such a small? and elite group was considered a great honor, despite the obvious and: very real dangers.

Today, such elderly colors, many of them made of silk, face an acute! preservation problem, their natural! fragility being accentuated by age and! pollutants. Many states, North and! South, have begun conservation! programs, but funding is always a 1 problem. The states of New York,! New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania,! Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri are all | involved in such conservation, and! have particularly fine state flag! collections - some more accessible! than others. Other examples may be I found in county historical societies. I

State national color purchased by officers of the 50th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at their own expense, to replace the previous color which had been lost at the Battle of Second Manassas (Second Bull Run), August 29-30, 1862. This particular color was carried by the regiment during the Battle of Fredericksburg, following which it was sent to Philadelphia to have battle honors painted on and, as a result, was not carried at Gettysburg. A new state color was issued to the regiment in the fall of 1863, and Colonel Hoffman, the commanding officer, sent this color home for safe-keeping 2 State regimental color presented to the 138th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry by the citizens of Bridgeport and Morristown, Pennsylvania, during Christmas 1864 when the regiment was stationed before Petersburg, during the siege of that city

Camp Hoffman 1863

1st Division, 2nd Brigade (under Brigadier General J. H. Hobart Ward), where it fought in and around Devil s Den continued

General Hobart Ward Flag

Union Camp Colors and Field Markers

1st Division, 2nd Brigade (under Brigadier General J. H. Hobart Ward), where it fought in and around Devil s Den continued

I Small color of the 99th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The red diamond in the center indicates that this regiment was assigned to the 1st Division, 3rd Corps. The blue stripe of the hoist signified that the regiment was part of the 2nd Brigade of that Division. This evidence suggests that the color may originate from the time of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863). when the regiment served in Sickle's 3rd Corps.

Field or flank markers were necessary to designate the extremities of a unit's position on the field, particularly in the early stages of establishing a battle line. Constructed of both silk and bunting, a surprising number have survived.

The small size of these colors, usually less than 2 feet by 3 feet (61 x 91cm), made them excellent souvenirs at the time of the Civil War, and has made them equally as popular with present-day collectors. The state capital in Harrisburg, and the Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia have excellent examples of Pennsylvania unit field markers. Specimens also exist in other state collections. Confederate forces do not appear to have utilized such a system of field markers to any great extent.

Camp color of the 56th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, bearing battle honors and trimmed with a gold fringe. The battle honors are an unusual application to this type of regimental flag which normally measures only about 18x18 inches (46 x 46cm)

Swallow-tail camp color of the 91st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The flag itself is non-regulation in shape, but features a white field in accordance to the regulations of 1836, with the regimental number and abbreviation in the center




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  • jarno
    Does the navy strap torpedoes to dolphins ?
    8 years ago

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