UNION Regulation Enlisted

The Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861 set out in great detail the prescribed uniform, both dress and fatigue, for officers and enlisted men. However, these Regulations were rarely subscribed to in every detail, particularly later in the war. Shortages of materials and equipment, and the American soldiers' distaste for uniformity, saw to that.

The dress hat was the same as for infantry, the black felt brimmed hat variously known as 'Hardee', 'Kossuth' and 'Jeff Davis', with a yellow hatcord, and looped up on the right side with the eagle clip. The brass crossed sabre device of the cavalry was worn on the front. When issued the hat had the same black plume and eagle device to hold up the side as the infantry. These gaudy decorations were usually quickly discarded if the hat was worn in the field.

8738 Union Cavalry Uniform

The shell jacket usually worn was short, reaching only to the waist, of dark blue cloth lined with white flannel. It had 12 small eagle buttons equally spaced down the front and two small buttons on the under-seam of the cuff. The stand-up collar was cut away at 30 degrees and had two blind buttonholes on each side in yellow worsted f-inch wide, each with one small button. The top buttonhole extended back 4 inches, the lower 3^, and the top, bottom and front ends of the collar were edged with the same braid, as was also the front edge, bottom and the two back seams of the coat. The pointed cuff was formed from the same lace. To hold the heavy waist belt in place two small bolsters, piped in yellow, were attached to the back of the jacket. The jacket was often replaced by the issue fatigue blouse. This was essentially the same as the infantry's, a sack coat of dark blue flannel, reaching halfway down the thigh, loose, without lining. It had a falling collar, inside pocket on the left, and four buttons down the front.

The Regulation gave dark blue, but General Order No 108, December 1861, authorized sky blue for the trousers and very few men wore dark blue. The cut was loose, without pleats and made to spread well over the boot. However, as they were often worn inside the boot they were then made narrower, or a slit left along the side. They were also reinforced in the seat.

Regulations provided for either 'ankle' boots, ie, like modern low-sided shoes, or Jefferson boots, ie, higher lacing like modern work boots. However, troopers were more usually issued with a pair of riding boots. These varied from high jackboots, often the personal property of the owner and passed from father to son, to the smaller cavalry boot. Jackboots reached above the knee, but the cavalry boot reached just under the bend of the knee behind and arched higher, either in a curve or square shape, in front to cover the knee-cap. Another alternative was the equivalent to the modern riding boot, 14-17 inches high, cut level at the top just below the knee. All boots were full cut, to take the trousers when worn inside, and made of calf-skin or grain leather, black, with low flat leather heels and square toes. Inside the boots grey or neutral coloured socks, usually home knitted, and called stockings not socks. The army did, in fact, issue socks—four pairs a year. Sometimes gaiters or leggings of canvas, which buckled or buttoned at the side, were worn instead of the heavy boots.

Under the coat would be either the regulation grey shirt or a civilian one, or in summer probably nothing at all. Shirts of the period were all of the half-buttoned type, pulled over the head, and the collar little more than a fold-over of the material.

Over all this the cavalryman was issued a sky blue cloth overcoat, similar to that of the infantry. It had a stand-and-fall collar some 5 inches high, and double-breasted with two rows of large eagle buttons. The skirt was 6-8 inches below the knee, with a slit at the back for riding 15-17 inches long, which had a concealed flap and buttons for closing when required. The coat had a cape attached with hooks and eyes under the collar and reaching to the cuff, lined with yellow and had a single row of buttons down the front. It could be worn up over the head, thrown back over the shoulders or, as it was primarily intended, simply as additional protection for the chest and shoulders in foul weather. Also issued was a form of waterproof cape, called a talma, which had sleeves and reached to the knees. It was black and made from gutta-percha.

The brimmed hat was not popular with the troops, and was quickly abandoned in favour of the fatigue kepi or forage cap, exactly like that of the infantry, known later in the war as the 'bummers' cap. Both kepi and hat, under the battering of weather and wearer's fancy, were quickly contorted into an amazing variety of shapes.

All ranks were issued with fawn buckskin gauntlets with flared cuffs 6 inches or over long, often partially split to take the coat cuffs.

The eagle buttons had a C on the shield in place of the infantry I. The large brass shoulder scales were also to be worn but soon fell into disuse.

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Responses

  • banazir
    What was union cavalry issue enlisted boot?
    4 years ago

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