It wTas hoped by the South that a peaceful separation of the slave states from the Union would be achieved in 1861; hence, the original uniforms chosen by the Confederate States Marine Corps were probably intended to be similar to those adopted by the US Marine Corps in 1859. Some evidence in support of this is to be found in General Order No.2, General Headquarters, Navy Department [of the State of Virginia], Richmond, Virginia, April 25, 1861, which stated: "The uniform of the Officers, Seamen and Marines of the Virginia Navy shall correspond in all respects to that of the United States Navy, with the exception of the button, which shall be that of the Commonwealth of Virginia." The fact that the short-lived Virginia Marine Corps made this choice suggests that the same approach may have been taken for the CS Marines.
Certainly, at the outset, those US Marine officers and enlisted men who joined the CS Marine Corps continued to wear their "old service" uniforms. First Lieutenant Becket K.Howell, commander of the Marine Guard aboard the CSS Sumter, was photographed with the other ship's officers before she went to sea on June 18, 1861, wearing his US Marine Corps uniform. The seizure of US naval stores at the Warrington (Pensacola) and Gosport navy yards
OPPOSITE Henry L.Graves was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Confederate Marines on October 24, 1862. He served at Drewry's Bluff until February 1863, when he was transferred to Savannah, Ga, where he was appointed to command the Marine Guard aboard the CSS Savannah. This photo was taken some time after January 7, 1864, on which date he was promoted first lieutenant - note double collar bars on the all-gray uniform. (Atlanta History Center)
in early 1861 provided the states of Florida and Virginia and, indirectly, the Confederate authorities, with a limited supply of both US Marine and Navy uniforms and equipage. However, this matériel would not have gone far, and orders for uniform clothing were quickly placed abroad and with Southern tailors and dry goods agents.
On May 9, 1861, Secretary of the Navy Mallory wrote to Capt James D.Bulloch, CSN, the Confederate purchasing agent in England, requesting him to purchase "Two thousand pairs of shoes, brogans, 2,000 flannel shirts, 2,000 canton flannel drawers, 2,000 pairs of woollen socks, 1,000 blankets, 1,000 fatigue caps, [and] 1,000 shirts (linen and cotton)." The "description of marine clothing" attached to this letter has not been found.
Meanwhile, more local clothing orders were being supplied. On May 21, "10 cases of black brogans (sixty in each) sizes 6-11" were shipped from Mobile via Montgomery, Alabama, to the Marines under Capt Van Benthuysen at Pensacola. On May 17, Secretary Mallory informed that officer that "Clothing and uniforms are ordered at New Orleans for the Corps at Warrington." On May 23, 115 Marine recruits leaving New Orleans for Pensacola with Capt George Holmes were issued with "117 grey flannel shirts" and 47 pairs of "cottonade pantaloons." A further "196 prs. Blue satinet pants" and "60 prs wThite linen duck pants" were received by Maj Samuel Z.Gonzalez, Marine quartermaster at Pensacola, on July 2, 1861.
On July 10, full fatigue uniforms were issued to Co A under Capt Holmes at Pensacola. These consisted of "90 Uniform Caps, 110 prs. Uniform pantaloons, 110 fatigue jackets [&] 60 flannel shirts." The Marine Guard aboard CSS McRae at New Orleans received "21 prs blue satinett pants, 21 prs. Shoes, 42 caps, 42 prs white linen pants [&] 21 undress jackets" on July 12. By the beginning of September the Marines at Pensacola were also receiving "fatigue woollen overalls."
Made by G.Samson of New Orleans, the first full dress uniforms seem to have been issued to Confederate Marines on June 8, 1861, when Lt Becket K.Howell, commanding the Marine Guard aboard CSS Sumter, received "20 Full dress suit," "20 Cap & Cover," and "4 Gross Bell Buttons." Later that year, on October 12, having been transferred to Savannah, Co A was issued with "satinette" frock coats, and jeans pants. As satinette was produced only as a fine quality blue cloth, the Marines at the Savannah Station were thus wearing blue frock coats. Furthermore, the fact that separate coats and pants were supplied to sergeants and corporals indicates the presence of rank insignia for non-commissioned officers, including chevrons on sleeves and stripes on the outseams of trousers. One hundred "leather stocks" had also been supplied to the same company eight days earlier. The uniform coats issued on this occasion were probably double-breasted, and fastened by seven pairs of buttons.
During the same period the Marine Guard, and probably the seamen, aboard the gunboat CSS Savannah, the flagship of Cdre Josiah Tatnall, had received "60 Blue Flannel Shirts" from the Soldiers' Relief Association of Charleston by November 1, 1861. On September 26 Secretary Mallory again wrote to James Bulloch in England, requesting the supply of "Eight hundred overcoats (watch coats)." In the meantime the Corps received 100 overcoats, presumably of American manufacture, on November 2.
Evidence that the Confederate Marine battalion based at "Camp Beall," Drewry's Bluff, had received gray clothing from the Army QM department in Richmond by the fall of 1862 is found in a letter written by Ephraim Henry Harding, chaplain of the 45th Regt, North Carolina State Troops, to his wife Mar)' on September 2, 1862. Having been asked to officiate at the funeral of 1st Sgt Jacob Scholls, he wrote, "The scene was both novel and impressive. The marines some two or three companies were all dressed in white trousers 8c grey coats..." In a further letter to Bulloch dated March 9, Mallory confirmed "Marine cloth [at least for frock coats] is gray."
Several descriptions of deserters published in the contemporary newspapers provide further evidence for this change in coat color. An enlisted man who deserted from the Mobile Station in January 1863 was described as wearing "a grey coat and black pants." When Cpl John A.McDaniels deserted from CSS Atlanta in May 1863, he was wearing a "grey coal trimmed with black and blue pants."
Regarding headgear, Marine enlisted men may have worn blue caps until about 1864. When a city watchman searched a soldier after an altercation between the latter and a Marine in Richmond on May 24, 1862, he found "a marine's blue cloth cap in his bosom." Later in the war, on May 17, 1864, 1st Lt Thomas Peyton Gwynn, commanding the Marine Guard on CSS Richmond, requisitioned and received "1 Blue Cap" for an enlisted man. Some officers may also have worn blue caps:
The officers of the CSS Sumter were photographed before their vessel put to sea on June 18, 1861. Commander Raphael Semmes is seated at center, while 2nd Lt Becket K.Howell stands at far right wearing US Marine Corps uniform. (Naval Historical Center photo NH 42383)
Becket K.Howell commanded the Marine Guard aboard the CSS Sumter from April 1861 to April 1862. He was also the only Confederate Marine aboard the CSS Alabama, and helped serve one of the guns during the battle with USS Kearsarge on June 19, 1864. He appears to be wearing a dark blue coat of US Navy cut, with shoulder straps bearing the Army bar for lieutenant rather than the Navy star. (Memoirs of Service Afloat)
in an image taken in Richmond in October 1861, 2nd Lt Robert M.Ramsey seems to be wearing a plain, dark-colored cap without ornamentation (see page 52).
A new pattern of uniform and fatigue wear, plus caps, of "Blue Jean cloth" appears to have been issued on January 25, 1864. Once again, the uniform coats would have been double-breasted, while the fatigue or "sack" coats were probably only fastened by a single row of four "A" buttons. Evidence from clothing receipt rolls issued in that year indicates that Marines received "a uniform cap with a pompon," as well as a fatigue cap; no representation of such a dress cap has survived. The only indication regarding cap ornamentation is a reference to "Eagles and rings" found in a clothing receipt roll dated June 1864. A gray kepi with very' dark blue/black band worn by Pte Samuel Z.Curtis, and owned today by a descendant, may have belonged to this period.
Photographs of Lts Ranev and Fendall (see pages 41 & 44), taken at Mobile in 1863, indicate that regulations for CSMC officers' uniforms may have existed. Seemingly based on those approved for the US Marine Corps in 1859, but using gray cloth instead of dark blue, the undress uniform coat was secured by a double row of seven buttons, and
Allen P.Ham enlisted in the CSMC at Decatur, Ga, on June 30, 1863, and served in Co E. Despite the very heavy retouching, this image taken shortly afterwards shows a single-breasted frock coat with piping around the collar, matching trousers, and a kepi with straight vizor. He holds an M1854 Lorenz rifled musket, and his accoutrements appear to be of British Army pattern. (Courtesy of his great-grandson Brooks L.Hamm)
in some cases had dark blue facings on the collar and cuffs. Rank insignia consisted of a system of gold collar bars and Austrian-style sleeve knots, as used by the Confederate Army, plus gold shoulder knots on scarlet underlay. According to the Raney and Fendall photos, these shoulder knots did not have embroidered rank devices attached in the USMC fashion. A single-breasted service coat also appears to have been worn, without shoulder knots. Trousers were less regulation, and seem to have been either navy blue, sky-blue, or gray with dark blue seam stripes. Lieutenant Fendall was photographed in 1863 holding a gray cap with a dark band.
Regarding weapons, a number of Marine officers acquired light or horse artillery sabers, while sidearms would have included Colt Army and Navy revolvers of various calibers. Lieutenant R.M.Ramsey was photographed with what appears to be a Le Mat revolver tucked through his sword belt.
The first enlisted Marines appear to have been issued with smoothbore muskets via Army ordnance officers. Captain Holmes' Co A received, among other things, "32 muskets" on July 8, 1861; Capt Van Benthuvsen's Co B was issued with Enfield rifles when they arrived at Drewry's Bluff in April 1862. A recruiting notice for Capt Mieire's Co D at the Mobile Station, published in February 1863, promised that recruits would be armed with "Enfield Rifles, with Sword Bayonets;" however, this company was actually issued 150 Model 1854 Lorenz rifled muskets on June 6, 1863. Company E at Savannah also received this weapon.
The Marines at Pensacola were issued 100 each of waist belts and plates, cartridge boxes and plates, cartridge box belts and plates, and cap pouches on April 27, 1861. On August 3, Capt Thom was supplied by Maj Gonzalez, the quartermaster at Pensacola, with "209 cartridge boxes, 110 bayonet scabbards, 110 cap pouches, 110 canteens and straps, 110 waist belts & plates, [and] 110 cross belts & plates." It is not known if any of the plates with this issue bore a device or lettering.
On September 26, 1861, Secretary Mallory instructed Capt Bulloch in London to purchase for the Marine Corps "1,000 waist belts, black leather (such as used in British service), with cartridge box, and bayonet scabbard, attached by means of slides; 1,000 knapsacks, such as used in British service, with straps to connect with the waist belt; 20 bugles, with extra mouth pieces; and 20 swords for non-commissioned officers, with shoulder belts." Evidence that some of this equipment was eventually issued to Confederate Marines is found in the photograph of Pte Allen P.Ham, who wears a British Army-style waist belt secured by a "snake" clasp, which supported a "ball bag" designed to carry 20 rounds of ammunition.
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