Confederate Uniforms Equipment

Early uniforms were improvised, and one of the most popular garments was the "battle shirt." Derived from the common pullover work shirt, these generously cut smocks or overshirts could be of homespun, cotton or wool, brightly colored or drab; they were frequently trimmed or braided with contrasting colors and materials, and fitted with breast pockets. Many were worn open at the neck, revealing a civilian shirt and sometimes a necktie beneath; others - such as the pattern worn by Gen Maxey's 9th Texas Infantry - were buttoned to the throat, with a neckband in a facing color.

Some units used a colored stripe across the shoulders as a company identification; the 9th Texas Cavalry used blue, black, yellow and red. One of the most striking battle shirts was worn by Douglas's Texas Battery which fought at Pea Ridge: dark red, with three lighter red tape stripes with brass ball buttons on the chest. The battle shirt also evolved into the "guerrilla shirt" worn by Quantrill's men. Easy to make and practical in use, such shirts continued to be produced bv seamstresses

S<iuuUtii

BIB.

and soldiers' families alongside more military styles. "Fireman's" or bib-fronted shirts were also worn, and a surviving photograph of two soldiers of the 1st Choctaw & Chickasaw Regt shows matching fireman's shirts and trousers in a dark color, which may be a uniform.

Frock coats, sometimes double-breasted and often with military trimmings, were also seen, as were shell jackets; sack coat patterns were probably more common, however, such as that worn by Pte Marchbanks of the 30th Texas Cavalry. Colors ranged from cadet-grav to light gray and the many "butternut" shades. Trousers were of jeans cloth, kersey or wool, sometimes with military seam stripes.

As the war progressed shortages led to the use of captured Federal uniform. Lieutenant Grayson noted that:

"Our soldiers were poorly clad and most of the time my company presented a motley appearance. The Confederacy being very hard run had very little in the way of clothing to issue to the men of this part of the country, and we were never very presentable. So when I-S—1—i-

we caught a prisoner... we generally stripped him clean of such of his wearing apparel as we desired, they being always better than our own, and placed upon him instead such of our old duds as he could wear."

Grayson particularly criticized the hat his company was issued, of cheap, undyed wool with a narrow- brim, and so poorly blocked that they soon reverted to their cone shape and scarcely lasted a month. One of his men "embellished it in true aboriginal style with one of the plumes of the... chicken hawk... securely fixed in the apex..."

After the capture of the Federal wagon train at the Second Battle of Cabin Creek, Pte Richard Martin of the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles wrote:

"I didn't suppose we would have undertaken this enterprise had it not been for the fact we was destitute of clothing. The condition of my uniform on that occasion was that my shirt was without a back but the defect was covered by a friendly grey jacket with wood buttons. My pants from the pockets down were only represented by the lining. My shoes was almost soulless [sic] with a good slice of the upper gone... a division of goods took place, and then had Uncle Sam come upon us he would have claimed us for his soldiers as everyone of us was arrayed in bright blue uniforms."

Blue Gray Kersey Confederate Uniforms

General Samuel Bell Maxey commanded Confederate forces in the Territory from December 1863 until Gen Douglas H.Cooper assumed command of both Indian and Texan units in early 1865. With his own company -the Lamar Rifles - Maxey was one of the first Texans to enter the Territory in 1861, when he urged the Civilized Tribes to support the South. This composite image shows him with lieutenant-colonel's insignia and buttons in threes; another photograph, taken in 1862 on his promotion to brigadier-general, shows buttons in the more usual pairs, and a képi bearing on the top surface a bullion star surrounded by brass lettering "TEXAS." (Confederate Research Center, Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas)

Greatcoats were popular - Stand Watie wore one taken from the steamboat J.RAVilliams. However, given the nature of the fighting in the Territory, where enemy uniform was used as a disguise, the penalty could

Confederate Houton Depot Issue

This Confederate shell jacket, which may have been worn by a soldier from Arkansas, is of light gray or drab jeans cloth which now has a slight "butternut" hue. The facings are of dark sky-blue wool, and it has a surviving brass "I" Infantry button. It differs from the more usual "Columbus depot" jackets in having a rounded collar and being cut straight at the back. (Author's photo: Collections of the Oklahoma Historical Society)

This Confederate shell jacket, which may have been worn by a soldier from Arkansas, is of light gray or drab jeans cloth which now has a slight "butternut" hue. The facings are of dark sky-blue wool, and it has a surviving brass "I" Infantry button. It differs from the more usual "Columbus depot" jackets in having a rounded collar and being cut straight at the back. (Author's photo: Collections of the Oklahoma Historical Society)

Quartermaster issue

Double-breasted coats, or "tunics," were prescribed for all ranks, of cadet-gray wool with collar, cuff facings and trim in branch colors. Officer ranks were indicated by a combination of collar stars and sleeve knots, NCOs bv sleeve chevrons. Forage caps in branch color were to be worn, with brass regimental numbers, and lace trimming for officers. Trousers were dark blue with gold lace stripes for general officers, and skv-blue kersey (reinforced for cavalry) for enlisted men and regimental officers. Status was indicated by IMin branch-color stripes for officers and NCOs.

Volunteers hoped that the Confederate government would supply them with uniforms, but it soon became clear that this would not always be the case. Confederate depots at Houston, Jefferson, Tyler and Bonham in Texas, and Washington, Arkansas, purchased materials from Mexico, Great Britain, France and even the US in addition to domestic production, but could never obtain enough. Commutation - the practice of paying volunteers a sum theoretically sufficient for them to acquire their own clothing -continued well into the war, but the weakness of the currency and rising prices reduced its value. Private Sparks of the 9th Texas Volunteer Cavalry received $8.00 for his underclothing, four shirts and four pairs of drawers; $16.00 for his coat and pants; $6.00 for his boots, and a further $3.00 for his canteen, cup, knife, belt etc.

Even when issue clothing was available, men sometimes preferred their own. Colonel Morse of the 29th Texas Volunteer Cavalry paid the money he received for clothing to his men, remarking: "I had heard a great deal about Georgia cloth manufacture and Columbus has two mills, but none of the products I could find or hear of were half as good as our homemade jeans." The Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville was the largest mill in the Trans-Mississippi, producing jeans cloth, kersey and osnaberg which was often made up by "sewing women" at the Houston Depot.2

2 Sec MAA 426. The Con/rdrralr Army 1861-6}: <2l florirta, Alabama & Ceorpa; and MAA 4S0... (3) Louisiana & Texas be severe. Sergeant Wiley Britton of the 6th Kansas Cavalry noted that:

"Orders were issued early in the war in regard to the punishment to be inflicted upon rebels caught wearing the Federal uniform. Every one captured wearing it should be tried by a drum-head court martial, condemned and instantly shot,"

Attempts were made to alter blue coats by bleaching and redyeing them, but most were worn unchanged just as they had been captured.

Confederacy Volunteers

Private W.F.EIizey of a Texas volunteer regiment wears a frock coat with shoulder straps and colored trim. Again, the accoutrements have been moved so as to appear on the correct side, but the percussion lock of his converted M1822 musket shows this to be a reversed image. He also has a Remington revolver, tucked into a belt with a rectangular brass plate. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

Private W.F.EIizey of a Texas volunteer regiment wears a frock coat with shoulder straps and colored trim. Again, the accoutrements have been moved so as to appear on the correct side, but the percussion lock of his converted M1822 musket shows this to be a reversed image. He also has a Remington revolver, tucked into a belt with a rectangular brass plate. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

The uniforms produced rarely matched the regulations. Perhaps the most common was that now referred to as the "Columbus Depot" jacket, a style produced throughout the South which can be seen in surviving images of Trans-Mississippi soldiers. They were often contracted for by "piecing out" manufacture to home-based seamstresses, who were provided with a kit containing a basic cut-out garment, lining, trim, buttons and sometimes thread — which explains the variations to be seen in surviving examples. Made of jeans cloth — a wool-cotton mix which could range from "drab," an off-white undyed finish, to a light gray or butternut hue - and with an osnaberg cotton lining, these hip-length shell jackets were generally cut with a small rounded "tail" at the rear and a stand collar. Collar and cuffs were often faced with wool in branch colors. Fastened by five or six buttons - brass branch-of-service patterns, Union buttons, wood or bone - most had an external breast pocket. Indian troops were particularly poorly served. General Pike was enraged to find that 6,500 uniforms, 3,000 pairs of drawers and 1,000 tents destined for his command had been appropriated by Texas units, and this initial shortfall was never remedied. On further occasions Indian commanders reported that white units had received preferential treatment in the issue of "grey uniform." In August 1862, Stand Watie wrote to Richmond that clothing "procured at great trouble and expense, to cover the nakedness of Indian troops, has on several occasions been distributed among less necessitous soldiers."

Lieutenant-Colonel James Bell of the 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles wrote to his wife:

"People in Texas think we have an army standing in line for fighting... of that 5,000, 1,000 are without arms, and many have not clothing to change, without shoes, and what anyone in their right senses would say was in a deplorable condition looking more like Siberian exiles than soldiers... I have been in an almost nude condition. I have still got an old grey shirt and pair of pants on they are thread bear [sic]."

The Inspector General noted that units in Arkansas and the Territory were suffering from "inequality in the distribution of clothing," and partly as a result of this it was directed that from November 1863, 40

percent of all imported clothing, camp or garrison equipage would be sent to the Bonham and Jefferson depots for the use of troops in the Territory and Arkansas.

At the end of that year the department had an aggregate of 54,254 enlisted men, with 22,676 present for duty; however, all these soldiers had to be clothed. Regulations called for an issue of two jackets and three pairs of trousers in the first year of service, and one jacket and two pairs a year thereafter; but in the field a pair of trousers might last no longer than a month, and a jacket three months.

During 1863 the following were among items issued by the Clothing Bureau, with a small amount of finer quality cloth probably intended for officers' uniforms:

Captain J.E.McCool, 9th Texas Cavalry; in this reversed image the breast pocket appears on his right rather than his left side -and note the knife hilt protruding from it. The shell jacket has facings at collar and cuffs, and six "buckeye" buttons; it closely resembles a surviving example in the Oklahoma Historical Society Collections. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

Texas Slim Jim Holsters

Captain J.E.McCool, 9th Texas Cavalry; in this reversed image the breast pocket appears on his right rather than his left side -and note the knife hilt protruding from it. The shell jacket has facings at collar and cuffs, and six "buckeye" buttons; it closely resembles a surviving example in the Oklahoma Historical Society Collections. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

Item

total issued

Bureau-manufactured

Caps & hats

19,732

caps 15,230

Jackets

25,557

7,675

Pants

41,15

21,747

Overshirts

2,210

139

Shirts

54,585

43,651

Drawers

48,704

38,952

Boots & shoes, prs

40.860

6,269

Socks, prs

5,356

Overcoats

637

571

Blankets & quilts

22, 236

311

Cloth, grey, yards

12.473

Domestic, yds,

30,521 K

Drilling, yds

9654

Flannel, yds

671'/.

Jeans, yds

4,675y.

Jeans, cotton, yds

1,390'A

Kersey, yds

71114

Linsey, yds

10514

Osnaberg, yds

2,966

Wool, lbs

42,238 (= between 20,000 & 30,000 yards according to quality)

Wool and jeans would have been used for jackets or trousers, kersey for trousers, and "grey cloth" for either purpose, or possibly shirting. "Domestic" probably refers to locally produced cottons or mixes used for shirts or linings along with osnaberg. Drilling, flannel and linsey were used for underwear and shirts, though flannel may also have been used for jackets. A uniform jacket or pair of trousers might be cut from approximately VA yards of cloth, with a similar amount of lining for the jacket and less for the trousers, though this was not always expertly done. General Maxey doubted that any uniform he found would fit any of his Indians: "The man or woman that cut these clothes never saw a naked man. I got a pair of pants long enough... and they were not large enough around the waist for a ten year old boy."

It can be seen that Confederate Quartermaster issue was not sufficient, and many men continued to rely on clothing from home. However, by 1864 increasing amounts of material were being imported from Great Britain. These included blue-grav and brown-gray blankets, grav army cloth, brown drilling, army shoes, woolen shirts, and complete suits of infantry uniform - often as many as 5,000 in one shipment - as well as individual jackets and trousers. Some of these may have been manufactured by Peter Tait in Limerick, Ireland: blue-grav, eight-button shell jackets with epaulettes with a blue piping. When the war ended in 1865 the Quartermaster's Department was perhaps as well prepared as it had ever been.

Cutaway Gun 1865

Civilian clothing

Many volunteers enlisted in their civilian clothes and remained dependent on supplies from home. Throughout the war appeals were made to, and clothing collected from, Southern families. In some areas homespun was still made; Rebecca Neugin, an Indian woman, recalled: "I learned to spin when I was a very little girl and I could make cloth and jeans for dresses and such other garments as we wore. We never any of us wore store clothes and manufactured cloth until after the Civil War."

Plant dyes were used: indigo for blue, walnut bark for black, maple bark for purple, hickory bark for green, maple and hickory for yellow, and madder, alum and sumac berries for red. In other cases, spinning wheels were brought out of retirement, and the government distributed cotton cards to encourage home production. Shirts

Tailored shirts were worn, but most would have been of home-made "square cut" pattern. These were baggy, with full sleeves, and in "pullover" style - open from the throat to the chest - with a small turn-down collar or a simple neckband. Buttons were of bone, tin or mother-of-pearl. Materials varied from plain cotton linen and homespun to brightly patterned cotton prints and heavy wool plaids. Shirts are often seen in photographs with elaborate cravats and ties, but it is likely that in the Field more simple bandanas and scarves were used. Waistcoats

Waistcoats or vests were often worn over the shirt, which was regarded as an undergarment; they also served to cover the suspenders (braces). Civilian patterns had shawl collars or clipped lapels, and were made of plain wool or patterned cotton or silk. Military styles with stand collars were also popular. Trousers

Pants usually had the standard French fly, though a few flap-front or side-buttoned pairs may have been seen, and were cut to be worn with suspenders. Wool - sometimes plaid or patterned - and jeans cloth predominated, but fringed buckskin trousers were also seen. Mexican-style trousers with conchos were also popular with Texans; famously, Capt

The Chickasaw brothers Henry and Wyatt Love are dressed in the white man's clothes adopted by many members of the tribe. Henry later served as an ordnance sergeant with Cooper's Indian Division. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

Colonel William Penn Adair, 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles, was one of Stand Watie's most trusted officers, and was frequently tasked with reconnaissance. In December 1863 he worked with Quantrill to screen the movement of the main force. Adair took part in the treaty negotiations after the war, when this photograph of him in civilian clothes was taken. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

Colonel William Penn AdairQuantrills Raiders

Three of Quantrill's Raiders celebrate Christmas 1863 in Texas: they are identified as (1) Arch Clement, (2) Dave Pool and (3) Bill Hendricks. Clemens and Pool wear civilian coats, Hendricks may have a Union sack coat; Pool holds a Colt Army revolver, Clement and Hendricks Colt Navies. (Library of Congress)

Three of Quantrill's Raiders celebrate Christmas 1863 in Texas: they are identified as (1) Arch Clement, (2) Dave Pool and (3) Bill Hendricks. Clemens and Pool wear civilian coats, Hendricks may have a Union sack coat; Pool holds a Colt Army revolver, Clement and Hendricks Colt Navies. (Library of Congress)

Samuel Richardson of the 3rd Texas Cavalry was photographed wearing jaguar-skin trousers with conch trim, and matching holsters.3

Jackets

Surviving images show a range of garments from the formal frock coat to ragged sack coats. Stand Watie wore a planter's coat, and an 1865 photograph show« a Cherokee officer wearing a checked duster coat. Buckskin jackets were also worn in the Territory by Texans and Indian troops. Some men also used Mexican blankets in bad weather. Footwear

A wide variety was in use, ranging from Indian moccasins and Texan versions made of green hides, to high and low boots, and ankle boots and low quarter shoes called "pumps." Private Sparks wrote that "The clothing of the men was light and unsuited for hard service, but almost all wore long boots made of Texas tanned leather with a large flap at the front of the leg to protect the knee." One thing most troops in the Territory had in common was the use of spurs. Private Sheppard of the 5th Texas Partisan Rangers noted after the Second Battle of Cabin Creek: "I drew a pair of boots (US) my size, but could only wear one of them for quite a while, on account of James Yearv stepped on one of my home made spurs. I being barefooted, it shaved off a good part of my heel." Headgear

Slouch hats, often ornamented with a star, feathers or plumes, were widely worn, as were straw hats and civilian-pattern visored caps. Brims varied in width; several sources refer to sombreros, which are more likely to be broad-brimmed felts than the stereotypical Mexican style. However, John McCorkle did get his from a Mexican wagonmaster.

Confederate accoutrements

Accoutrements were always in short supply. Those seized when war broke out were soon issued. Arkansas had some small tanneries and pieceworkers, but by 1862 the largest factory was the Little Rock State Penitentiary, where thousands of sets of accoutrements were made. Texas had similar establishments along the old cattle trails, and large scale manufacture was set up in Houston. However, Confederate troops in the Territory relied heavily on captured Federal accoutrements. Cartridge boxes and cap pouches

These followed Federal patterns, though cap pouches were generally of "shield front" style. Economies were made: lead or wooden fastening studs replaced brass, rivets were omitted, and boxes were often issued without shoulder belts. Musket slings were made of canvas with leather reinforcement, and russet leather was widely used. Eventually leather was replaced by black-painted canvas, sewn into three thicknesses for strength.

1 Sec MAA 4S0. Pit ConfttUratt Army 1861-65: (3) tjmuiana & Trxas

Brass Hilt Dirk

This Texan volunteer wears a battle shirt with brass ball buttons. His ammunition is carried in a hunting pouch on his right hip - the left, in this reversed image. It has a powder horn and measure, and the sling, with an unusually wide shoulder piece, carries a sheathed dirk. He holds a shotgun, and a ■ 265in New Model M1855 Colt Pocket revolver - the Root Patent Colt. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

This Texan volunteer wears a battle shirt with brass ball buttons. His ammunition is carried in a hunting pouch on his right hip - the left, in this reversed image. It has a powder horn and measure, and the sling, with an unusually wide shoulder piece, carries a sheathed dirk. He holds a shotgun, and a ■ 265in New Model M1855 Colt Pocket revolver - the Root Patent Colt. (Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society)

All these styles overlapped; in 1864, Houston Ordnance Depot was producing a distinctive black leather box with an ornate flap featuring tooled edges and a large circular inspector's mark flanked by the letters "CS," but with waist belt loops only. British cap pouches were seen in two patterns: one in russet leather for the waist belt, the other in white buff for the shoulder belt. Enfield cartridge boxes (some Fitted with an internal cap pouch) were also imported. Hunting bags

Many volunteers used hunting bags. These usually had an attached powder horn and measures, and occasionally a patch knife 01 fighting knife in a scabbard on the shoulder sling; some also contained bullet molds. Bullets were sometimes carried in a "Texas bag," a bull or buffalo scrotum secured by a drawstring; one example had a yellow Texas star sewn to it. Hunting bags were useful because of the variety of weapons in use; ammunition was often issued as powder and lead for men to make up their own loads. Indians sometimes carried beaded bandoleer bags which fulfilled the same purpose. Waist belts

Oval brass belt plates with the Texas star, and oval or rectangular "CS" or "CSA" plates were worn, and some photographs show circular locket patterns. L'nion patterns were also used. British brass snake clasps were also issued, but civilian patterns were probablv more common than military. These included belts with iron and brass single-roller harness buckles or frame buckles. A popular early war style was the double buckle, a broad belt fastened by two narrower strips with small single-roller buckles. Holsters

Troops with old-fashioned percussion horse pistols had pommel holsters. These also held revolvers, and were sometimes converted and worn on the waist belt. Many civilian belt holsters were used, usually of russet leather and sometimes with light tooling. These were often carried on the left or right hip with the butt forward for a cross or twist draw. Flaps buttoned directly to the bodv or were secured with a latch tab and stud or through a tab and a loop; flaps were sometimes cut off to improve access. Open-top California or "Slim Jim" holsters - cut-away so that the trigger guard could be reached and the hammer cocked as the weapon was drawn - were popular, especially with revolver-armed outfits such as Quantrill's Raiders. Haversacks, knapsacks & canteens

Haversacks were of unpainted canvas, ticking or leather, either copied from the Federal pattern or simply folded "pillowcase" stvles. Knapsacks were rare, especially as most Confederate troops were mounted. During 1863. the year the Confederate Ordnance Department stopped issuing

(continued on page 41)

Confederate Home Guard Uniforms

THE CREEKS' RETREAT TO KANSAS Battle of Bird Creek, December 9, 1861 See text commentary for details

1861 Confederate Uniform

UNION: DELAWARE SCOUTS

Kansas, winter 1861/62

See text commentary for details

Confederate Uniforms Confederate Uniform PaintingsConfederate Snake BuckleConfederate Uniforms

THE OSAGE

Hard Rope's fight. May 1863 See text commentary for details

Osage Medicine Wheel

THE OSAGE

Hard Rope's fight. May 1863 See text commentary for details

Confederate UniformsGuerrilla OvershirtHistorical Drum UniformsConfederate Uniforms Ordnance

knapsacks, the Trans-Mississippi Clothing Bureau issued over 9,000 haversacks, but only 1,714 knapsacks. Blanket rolls, saddlebags and extra haversacks slung from the saddle would have been far more common.

Cylindrical tin "drum" and wooden "barrel" pattern canteens with cotton straps were the most widely issued Confederate patterns, but water gourds were also used.

This Confederate waist belt with an uncommon rectangular brass plate - which may be an officer's or NCO's pattern - was found on the Cabin Creek battlefield. (Author's photo: Collections of the Oklahoma Historical Society)

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Responses

  • HURIYYAH
    What confederate civil war units wore bib front shirts?
    7 years ago
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  • Cherubino
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    Which Alabama troops were issued blue gray kersey uniforms?
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