The Plates

Civil War Belts

A/: Captain, South Carolina, 1861 The dark blue uniform worn by this stall"captain is described by British correspondent William H. Russell on 17 April 1861 as 'blue military caps, with I "palmetto" trees embroidered thereon, blue frock- 1 coats, with upright collars, and shoulder-straps I edged with lace, and marked with two silver bars, to I designate their ranks of captain; gilt buttons with I the palmetto in relief; blue trowsers, with a gold- I lace cord, and brass spurs—no straps'.

A2: Corporal, Alabama Volunteer Corps, /861 The state uniform, with minor variations from unit to unit, was worn at least into 1863. This corporal is armed with an Mi842 smoothbore 0.69-cal. I musket; the bayonet scabbard is the Mi840 model which was designed for this musket.

Ay: Private, nth Mississippi Infantry Regiment, 1861 Photographs indicate that the 1 ith Mississippi, as well as a large number of other state infantry regiments, wore the basic state uniform, at least in 1861. This private's belt plate bears the state insignia. Hat brims were folded up according to individual or unit taste on one or both sides, and sometimes to even form tricornes. The 1 ith, then part of Hood's Division, defended the part of the Southern line near the Dunker Church at the Battle of Antietam. Charged again and again, they lost 104 killed or wounded in the action, including all their field officers; but they held their line.

Hi: Private, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment, 1861 Rhode Island's state uniform was loose and comfortable: basically a blue hunting shirt—a garment with a long military tradition in America. A type of Mexican serape was also worn over the shirt in cooler weather. The regiment had switched to the regulation uniform when, as part of the VI Corps at Spotsylvania in 1864, they were in the centre of the brigade sent to hold part of the captured lines. Four times they were assaulted, and

Colonel Ambrose Burnside wears the field-grade officers' version of the Rhode Island dark blue frock. It has two rows of brass buttons down the front, while that of company-grade officers and enlisted men had only one row of buttons. His trousers are grey. (David Scheinmann collection)

on the last occasion (he Confederates even managed to plant a flag on their works. But four times they held—even though their guns were so fouled that they could no longer be loaded, and had to be exchanged for fresh ones.

Bu: Sergeant, yd Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1861 "

The 3rd Maine received state-produced grey uniforms, as well as distinctive tin drum-type canteens, and state insignia belt plates. These uniforms were of poor material though, so were replaced when the regiment reached the front with US Army regulation dress. (The belt plates and canteens were retained.) The 3rd had its roughest day on 2 July 1863 at Gettysburg, where they were first sent as a skirmish line in support of the US Sharpshooters in front of the II Corps; and were then ordered to rejoin the III Corps in the Peach Orchard, where they were battered by repeated attacks. They entered the battle with 14 officers and 196 enlisted men; they lost 113 all ranks during that day, along with their national colour.

B3: Private, 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry

Regiment, 1861 Two novel items are worn by this private of the 2nd New Hampshire: the 'Whipple' hat and 'camp shoes'. The Whipple hat was widely issued to troops from New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts. It is often incorrectly shown in modern drawings based on vague period engravings as a type of pith helmet, but it was actually made ofblue felt with a leather peak and chinstrap. These caps were worn at least until mid-1862, and were highly

South Carolina bought copies of the Mi842 musket from two makers, A. H. Waters & Co. {top), and B. Flagg & Co. (bottom). The state bought about 100 of the Waters musket in 1849, and 640 of the Flagg weapons in 1850. The Waters has brass furniture, the Flagg iron furniture. (Milwaukee Public Museum)

popular, when captured, among Confederates, who called them 'Excelsior' hats (after New York's motto). The camp shoes were worn throughout the war, and were made of white canvas, with leather ties, toes, and heels. This private also wears i h. -i.iie grey uniform and unique belt plate.

The 2nd was in the 111 Corps at Geu^liing. posted in the Peach Orchard behind the 3rd Maine 011 2 July. The 3rd Maine withdrew and, to defend their position, the 2nd charged the attacking Southern line and drove them back. In turn, however, they were forced back under heavy fire, retiring, reported their colonel, 'quite rapidly, yet coolly, and without excitement as they went'. The 2nd New Hampshire lost 193 all ranks during the day.

Ci: Lieutenant, Louisiana State Navy, 1862 Louisiana's Navy fought unsuccessfully against the US Navy below New Orleans. The officers were described in US Navy officers' uniforms, such as this one worn by a lieutenant, with white trousers and a straw hat—also worn in the US Navy—for hot weather. His sword belt plate bears the state insignia, while his sword was made by L. Haiman & Bros., of Columbus, Georgia, for officers of the Confederate Navy.

(.'2: Chief Engineer, Virginia State Navy, 1861 Officers in the Virginia Navy wore US Navy

Enfield 1861 Musketoon
Lockplates of the A. H. Waters & Co. M1842 musket (lop) and the B. Flagg & Co. M1842 musket (bottom). (Milwaukee Public Museum)

uniforms, with the exception of the state insignia on their buttons and sword belt plates. This engineer's branch is indicated by his unique cap badge and shoulder straps, while the three buttons around his cuff indicate his rank. His sword is the U.S. Navy officers' model.

Cj: Seaman, Georgia Slate Navy, 1861 Georgia's Navy lasted only a matter of months, yet in that time a receiving ship had been set up and men enlisted into it. This sailor wears the rather unique dress prescribed for that Ibrce, and is armed with a cutlass made by Cook & Brother in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Di: Private, 10th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1861

All Indiana's first six regiments wore a version of this basic uniform, some in grey and some in blue. Made of light-weight satinet, these uniforms wore out rapidly and were later replaced with regulation US Army dress. At the Battle of Logan's Cross Roads in January 1862, which saved Kentucky for the Union, the ioth were attacked and fell back, but rallied and moved to the front again to cover an exposed flank. Running out of ammunition and refilling their cartridge boxes while still under fire, they then charged and broke the Confederate line, which was never rallied again for the rest of the battle.

D2: First Sergeant, 8th Wisconsin I 'olunteer Infantry

Regiment, 1861 The 8th Wisconsin was the last of the state's regiments to receive grey uniforms. The 8th, which served in Western campaigns including that against Vicksburg in 1863, was best known for its mascot, 'Old Abe', an American eagle that was noted for flying low over its ranks in battle, giving a mournful cry. This first sergeant is armed with a Pi858 Enfield rifled musket from England.

Dj: Private, Co. 1). yth Michigan Volunteer Infantry

Regiment, 1861 Although Michigan ordered blue uniforms from the first day it began to get supplies for its volunteers, a number of pre-war or home-made uniforms appeared when the troops first mustered. This outfit was initially worn by the Monroe Light Guard, which became Co. D of the 7th Infantry; it did not last long in service, however. The state uniforms were of similar designs, but all dark blue. When the Union Army was held up by snipers inside houses in Fredericksburg, and artillery failed to dislodge them, the 7th jumped into pontoons along with troops from the 19th and 20th Massachusetts Regiments, and crossed the river, to drive the Confederates out of the town. This allowed the engineers to get on with the job of assembling the pontoon bridges so that the rest of the Army could cross to the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg.

Ei: Private, 1st Infantry Regiment, Reserve Brigade of

Philadelphia, 1863 Pennsylvania's Reserve Brigade, organised in April 1861, continued to wear grey uniforms long after all the other Federal volunteers at the front switched to blue. When the regiment saw field duty, however, in the southern invasions of 1862 and 1863, and came under artillery fire at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, they wore dark blue fatigue blouses. Their belt plates were unique, with the state coat of arms over the letters 'RB\

E2: Corporal, 33rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, i8(u The state's first generally issui'd uniform was this simple grey affair, worn at least until mid-1862. This corporal holds the regimental colour, like tin-US flag but with the state coat of arms in the canton along with the stars. Each of the state's regiments received one of these colours, which differed only in very minor points. At 2nd Bull Run the 33rd charged down the slope of Henry House Hill, taking up a defensive line on the Sudley Springs Road, and driving every Confederate from their front. According to Gen. George Meade, 'it is clue to the Pennsylvania Reserves to say this charge and maintenance was made at a most critical period <>l the day'. The Union Army's defeat could well have been much worse had it not been made.

E3: Sergeant, 1st Regiment of Connecticut Militia, i8fii Companies A and B of Connecticut's infant r\ regiments were rifle companies, trimming theii uniforms with green. This uniform was authorised by state regulations before the war, and closeK followed that of the US Army's 1858 regulations, replacing national insignia with state insignia. His canteen is a unique combination of canteen and ration carrier, issued to several 1861 Connecticut volunteer regiments: the top part holds water, while the hollow bottom part is designed for rations. The 1 st, which served only three months in 1861, were at 1st Bull Run where, after crossing the stream following Sherman's Brigade, they marched down Young's Branch and were pretty well out of the fighting for the rest of the day.

Ei: Ordnance Sergeant, 3rd Aorth Carolina Stale Troops, 1863

This ordnance sergeant holds the regimental colour, a dangerous privilege that seems often to have fallen to ordnance sergeants in North Carolina units. He wears the regulation state uniform, with the pre-war state belt plate. His canteen is made of two pieces of shaped wood nailed together. The 3rd was in the lead in the famous flank march made by 'Stonewall' Jackson at Chancellorsville.

Texas bought these tin canteens from Kirschbaum of Solingen in Prussia. Alabama bought identically marked canteens, which were, however, made of copper instead of tin. (Don Johnson collection)

Texas bought these tin canteens from Kirschbaum of Solingen in Prussia. Alabama bought identically marked canteens, which were, however, made of copper instead of tin. (Don Johnson collection)

4th Texas Canteen Woodne7th Alabama Infantry

Vermonters, like this private from Chelsea, Vermont, wore US regulation frock coats even in the field. His cap is marked with a branch-of-service infantry insignia with a company letter 'G' within the horn loop. (Author's collection)

F'j: Private, jth Florida Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1863

Florida did issue some uniforms to its troops, including this 7th Infantry private. The jacket and trousers were light-weight, made with cotton rather than wool. His canteen is a copper copy of the US Army tin canteen. The 7th, in Finley's Brigade of Bate's Division of the Army of the Tennessee, served in the defence of Atlanta.

F'j: Sergeant Major. 4th Georgia Infantry Regiment, 1863 This sergeant major wears a common variation of the regulation chevrons for his grade. He also wears a belt plate with the state insignia; and his wooden canteen is taken from one carried by a member of Co. G of this regiment. The 4th was one of the regiments that fought the delaying action at South Mountain, thus preventing the Union Army from destroying the Army of Northern Virginia piecemeal.

Gi: Private, 22nd New York State Militia Regiment, 1863 New York's state militia was not the same as her volunteer regiments at the front something that can be confusing, since the same numbers were used by pairs of quite distinct regiments. Most state I militia units wore uniforms that they designed for themselves and were not in state-wide use. The I 22nd, a New York City regiment, preferred grc\ uniforms; the state insignia was worn on the cap box and buttons, while the company letter appeared on the cap front and belt plate. The regiment was made part of the New York National Guard in September 1861. It served at Harper's Ferry. Virginia, in June 1862, at which time it returned its grey uniforms and donned blue fatigue blouses, because the grey ones were too similar to Confederate ones. They were armed with sergeants' Pi856 Enfield rifles.

G2: First Lieutenant, 6gth New York State Militia

Regiment, 1862 The 69th Volunteer Infantry and 69th State Militia Regiments were closely associated—both were Irish units from New York City—with 500 officers and men from the Slate Militia Regiment volunteering for service in the Volunteer Infantry Regiment when it was organised. This figure is based closely on a photograph of the State Militia's First Lieutenant E. K. Butler, which shows him to have carried a silver flask as a canteen. His belt plate is the state sword belt plate. The colour in the background was carried by the 69th Volunteer Infantry until late 1862. At 1st Bull Run the State Militia regiment successfully attacked the 4th Alabama, its lieutenant-colonel being killed in the process. The Volunteer Infantry Regiment was part of the famous 'Irish Brigade' of the Army of the Potomac, w ho smashed into the Confederate line in the Sunken Lane at Antictam in September 1862 despite terrible losses.

Gj: Private, 33rd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.


The 33rd was one of the many New York infantry units that received the state uniform jacket. They also wore the state belt plates. This was the typical uniform of the majority of New York's infantrymen. Fhe 33rd was the last regiment in the rearguard when the Union army changed bases during the Peninsular Campaign. On 28 June 1862, when so serving, it was attacked by the 7th and 8th Georgia Regiments. The 33rd checked the attack, capturing

50 prisoners including both Georgia colonels, and finding another 100 Southerners wounded or dead in front of their position.

Hi: Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 30th Ohio

Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1864 Ohio's troops, typical of many Westerners, were often issued short jackets instead of fatigue blouses or frock coats. This man wears a half-chevron indicating veteran volunteer status. His cross belt plate bears the state insignia, and he also wears the state belt plate. At the Battle of South Mountain the 30th charged into the 23rd North Carolina Infantry, who were positioned behind a stone wall. 'Some of the 30th Ohio forced through a breach in the wall', Confederate Gen. I). H. Hill wrote later, 'and bayonets and clubbed muskets were used freely for a few moments'. They drove the North Carolinians off and took the position.

H2: Pioneer, lyth Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, •863

The pioneers' grade is indicated by the crossed axe insignia worn on both sleeves. This regiment, when photographed near Vicksburg. Mississippi, in 1863, wore state-issued jackets and broad-brimmed hats. At the Battle of Shiloh, 'left unsupported and alone . . the 17th Illinois ... retired in good order . . . and reformed under my direction', reported Union Gen. McClernand. This calm behaviour, which was not typical of many of the units first hit by the Southern assault, helped save the day, and the campaign in the West, for the Union.

liy. Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, 3rd New Jersey

Cavalry Regiment, 1864 When the 3rd New Jersey Cavalry was raised in January March 1864, the state decided to name them the' 1st US Hussars' and to give them a fancier than usual cavalry uniform, as a spur to recruitment. The state paid for the additions to the regulation cavalry uniform. The cap was the issue forage cap with the peak removed and worn sideways (although the crossed sabres insignia 011 top of the cap was worn facing the original front). Extra braid was added to the jackets. Called the 'Butterflies' by other troops when they first appeared, the regiment went on to establish a credible record as a good cavalry unit. Their most

8th South Carolina Infantry

This corporal from Madison, Wisconsin, wears a version of thai state's grey uniform with black trim on the trousers and jacket cuffs and collar. The shirt is made without a collar, and is apparently dark blue or red with a light-coloured piped design down the front. (Richard Carlisle collection)

notable action was their charge to capture the entire 8th South Carolina Infantry Regiment, but they also made a successful charge at Winchester, Virginia; routed Southern cavalry at Tom's Brook, Virginia; and were at the Battle of Five Forks.

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  • luukas matinsalo
    What was the uniform worn in wisconsin regiments?
    8 years ago
  • Tanta
    What was the most common belt plate louisiana infantry soldiers wore?
    6 years ago

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