Captain 1st Dragoons 1858

The pre-war Old Army was always a pitifully small organization and with a strength of about 16,000 men in 1860, it was hardly larger than it had been thirty years before. Only a handful of infantry, cavalry, and artillery units made up its ranks, but one of the newer regiments was the 1st Dragoons, created in 1834 as the Regiment of Mounted Dragoons -one of its officers was the young Jefferson Davis, later President of the Confederated States. The dragoons had been popular in European armies in the 18th century, when they were employed as troops whose usual role was to ride into battle but then to fight dismounted.

As the 1st Dragoons, the regiment served on until the outbreak of war, being employed as a normal cavalry regiment and, based in California, it saw constant action against Indians in the Far West. This captain wears the typical dragoon officer's uniform of dark blue blouse, sky blue trousers, and the so-called "Jeff Davis" or Hardee hat A heavy .44 caliber Colt pistol and a heavy dragoon saber complete his arms. The old regiment soon disappeared as newer cavalry tactics of fighting dismounted essentially pre-empted the dragoon's role.

Union Cavalry Uniform

Union Cavalry Officers' Uniforms and Equipment

The cavalry branch-of-service color - yellow - was used as background for shoulder straps, piping for coats and trousers. A predecessor branch, dragoons, utilized the color orange in the same manner until it was discontinued in favor of cavalry in 1861. The crossed sabers insignia, both embroidered and stamped metal, was used on headgear.

The men to whom these artifacts belonged were: Capt. William Cunningham, 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry (5); Capt. Alexander H. McHenry, Co..G, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry (3); Capt Alfred Pleasanton,

2nd Dragoons (later major general)! (20): Capt. Charles R. Suter (10); Capt. William P. Wilken, 1st Virginia Cavalry (2); Capt. J. H. Workman, 6th I Pennsylvania Cavalry (6).

1 Forage cap

2 Frock coat

3 Slough hat

4 First lieutenant's shell jacket

5 Forage cap

6 Shell |acket

7 Slough hat of 4th U.S. Cavalry

8 Workman's trousers

9 Workman's model 1840 cavalry officer's saber

10 Model 1860 cavalry saber

First Dragoons

11 Officer's sword belt

12 Model 1840 cavalry officer's saber

13 Freeman Army Model revolver, 44 caliber

14 1853 Le Faucheux revolver

15 Captain's shoulder straps

16 Ma|or's shoulder straps; note yellow backing

17 Officer's sash

18 Epaulettes 2nd Cavalry. Note yellow backing to regimental number

19 Epaulettes, Second Lieutenant in 2nd Dragoons Note orange backing

20 Epaulettes First Lieutenant. 2nd Dragoons

21 Cavalry hat insignia

22 Officer's high boots

1858 Dragoon Uniform
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Second Civil War Union Uniform

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