Federal Cavalry Uniforms

Surviving uniform variations of either Federal or Confederate forces are not common, although scattered specimens do exist here and there, some in public and others in private collections. The collections at West Point, the Smithsonian, and Museum of the Confederacy are truly outstanding, although even in such large establishments many examples cannot be exhibited due to space and conservation considerations. These artifacts are, therefore, of particular interest, as they show some unusual uniforms.

One of the units shown here, 3rd New Jersey Cavalry, was somewhat unusual. By the end of 1863, most regiments on both sides were more intent on getting the war over and surviving than on worrying about how they looked, but when recruiting for the 3rd New Jersey Cavalry started in January 1864, however, the unusual uniform and accoutrements - all with a "hussar" theme - were chosen for one reason only, to attract recruits. The dress was so elaborate that the unit became known by a variety of names, ranging from the semi-official "1st United States Hussars" and "Trenton Hussars" (they were raised m Trenton, NJ) to the slightly mocking soldiers' nickname of the "Butterflies." They performed well in battle, however, and their nickname changed to the slightly more respectful "The Fighting Butterflies." Their regimental motto was "a sword to wield and a horse to ride." By these

Cavalry Uniform

standards the dress of the 11th New York Cavalry "Scott's 900" was almost drab Also shown here is a forage hat which illustrates the cavalry practice of putting the unit and cavalry badge on the top rather than the front of the kepi.

Eighth Virginia Cavalry Muster Sheet

Hooded "talma" or cape, with tassel. Among Civil War regiments, the talma was an item of uniform unique to the 3rd New Jersey Cavalry Forage cap of a member of Company C, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry Unique shell jacket of an enlisted man in the 3rd New Jersey Cavalry Note the extremely elaborate yellow piping This regiment became known as "the Butterflies"

Distinctive shell lacket of a sergeant, 11th New York Cavalry, a unit also known as "Scott's 900"

The Forage War New Jersey

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