Other Uniform Items

Shirts

Between May 1861 and October 1865 the Army purchased 11,091,639 shirts. They also bought 5,532,729 yards of Canton flannel (cotton) and 8,314,892 of grey cloth, apparently mostly for making shirts. The Quartermaster described the shirts as being 'Zouave, gray,' knit, and flannel. The flannel shirts were mostly grey. General orders in the Army of Tennessee in April 1862 pointed out that 'the regiments today went out in gray flannel shirts, which at a distance of 100 yards resembles the seccession uniform. Commanders of regiments must never leave their camps for action unless the men wear the blue coat, jacket or blouse.'

An original issue shirt in a private collection is made of heavy unbleached muslin. It has a two-piece collar with a tin button on one side and a button-hole on the other. Made in pullover style, it has no other buttons down the front. The cuffs were made by simply turning back the sleeves and sewing them down, with one tin button fastening each cuff. There are no pockets. It has an inspector's mark and date on the rear shirt tail about an inch from the hem.

A 22nd Massachusetts private in November 1862 drew 'a shirt (white cotton and wool shoddy, no shape or make)'; and Pte. Upson of the 100th Indiana wrote that issue shirts were 'rather coarse and scratchy'. Civilian shirts were also worn. Pte. William Margraff, 6th Pennsylvania Reserves, wrote home in June 1861 for 'a couple of striped shirts and a fine shirt'; and one officer noted that sutlers did well after the Battle of Antietam because the men 'were willing to pay any price demanded for shirts.'

Cravats

The Army bought 745,814 leather stocks between May 1861 and October 1865. Few were actually issued, and even fewer, apparently, were worn. They were of black leather, 2 ins wide, curved to dip under the chin, 13' ins long, with a 42-in- l°ng thin leather strap f0-in. wide mounted at one end fastened by a i-in. waistcoat buckle at the other. There was a tooled line around the outer edge of the stock. Officers were permitted to wear ties, but these were not allowed to show at the collar opening.

Vests

Pte. Leo Taller of the 71I1 Pennsylvania Reserves wrote home in October 1862 that he had drawn 'brown knit undershirts'. From photographs these appear to have no collar or cuffs, to be made of tan material, with one button on the neckband, and two more down a placket that stops about 4 ins above the navel. They were made in pullover-style.

Trousers

According to 1861 regulations, trousers were dark blue with, for regimental officers, 'a welt let in the outer seam, one-eighth of an inch in diameter, of colours corresponding to the facings. . .'. Enlisted men had dark blue trousers, with branch-of-service

This saddler wears the fatigue sack coat with mounted man's trousers. His unofficial saddler's badge is worn on both sleeves just above the elbows. His spurred riding boots are worn inside the trousers. (Rick Carlile)

This saddler wears the fatigue sack coat with mounted man's trousers. His unofficial saddler's badge is worn on both sleeves just above the elbows. His spurred riding boots are worn inside the trousers. (Rick Carlile)

Leo Faller 7th ReservesUnion Officer Private Purchase Sack Coat

This private, identified as John B. Nick of the 2nd District of Columbia Inf.Regt., wears a custom-made version of the sack coat: these were often seen among veterans, sometimes almost to the length of a frock coat. He wears a dark blue military-style waistcoat, and his low, fairly small-brimmed black slouch hat is seen on the table. The regiment was part of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. (Author's collection)

This private, identified as John B. Nick of the 2nd District of Columbia Inf.Regt., wears a custom-made version of the sack coat: these were often seen among veterans, sometimes almost to the length of a frock coat. He wears a dark blue military-style waistcoat, and his low, fairly small-brimmed black slouch hat is seen on the table. The regiment was part of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. (Author's collection)

colour stripes 1 \ ins wide for sergeants and 4 in. wide for corporals. Photographs suggest that over half the non-commissioned officers in the field did not bother to put stripes on their trousers—these were not issued already made up with stripes. The trouser colour was officially changed from dark to sky blue 16 December 1861, with dark blue stripes for infantry non-commissioned officers. These trousers were dyed sky blue, a colour which acquired a somewhat greenish cast after several washings. Mounted men also had a second layer of wool sewn as a reinforcement inside the legs and under the crotch. The Army bought 6,068,049 pairs

Man Leather Shoes Legs Old Sketch
This is apparently a member of the US Sharpshooters (whose dress will be covered in more detail in a future Men-ut-Arms title); he holds a breech-loading Sharps rifle. Note his issue undershirt, and long canvas gaiters. (Rick Carlile)

of foot soldiers' trousers and 1,688,746 pairs for mounted men between May 1861 and October 1865.

Trousers came with five tin fly buttons and four buttons around the waist for braces (which were not issued). Sometimes there was a belt let into the rear for size adjustment; but most had simply a slit in the rear, with two holes through which a piece of twine or rawhide was tied for size adjustment. Pockets were either cut straight or made with flaps. A watch pocket on the right waistband was usually included. A private in the 104th Illinois wrote that he had converted 'the old style pants pockets to square styles' for friends in his company.

Drawers

Between May 1861 and October 1865 the Army purchased 10,738,365 pairs of drawers. Upson of the 1 ooth Indiana recalled drawing his first issue in 1861: 'The drawers are made of Canton flannel. Most of the boys had never worn drawers and they did not know what they were for and some of the old soldiers who are here told them they were for an extra uniform to be worn on parade and they half believed it.' The drawers, of a tan colour, were made two-thirds of the leg length, with several buttons on the waistband and down the fly.

Gaiters

Gaiters were not a regulation part of the uniform, although the Quartermaster General wished them to be regulation for the infantry as early as i860.

A second lieutenant wearing the officer's overcoat, with its wrist-length cape and four black frogs and toggles fastening across the chest. This particular rank is indicated by the lack of sleeve rank insignia. (Author's collection)

Rear Admiral Rank Insignias

Many units appear to have drawn and worn them, however, and not only the Zouave units which received them as a standard part of their uniform. Photographs of the 1 ioth Pennsylvania Infantry in spring 1863 show gaiters to have been worn, even though the regiment's uniforms were unremarkable in all other respects. Pte. Leo Faller, 7th Pennsylvania Reserves, wrote that he drew a 'pair of white leggins' on 24 May 1862. And Confederate General John Gordon described a Union attack at Antietam: 'The entire force, I concluded, was composed of fresh troops from Washington or some camp of instruction. So far as I could see, every soldier wore white gaiters around his ankles.' The troops in this attack—the 5th Maryland, 1st Delaware, and 4th New York Infantry Regiments had, indeed, been stationed around Washington before the battle.

An original pair, worn by a member of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry, are made of heavy white linen, io£ ins high, with six tin buttons down the outside. A i^-in. black leather strap is fixed with copper rivets inside, and passes under the instep to fasten to the outside bottom button.

Boots

The infantryman's issue boot, or 'shoe' as it is known in America, was an ankle-high laced boot, often made with the rougher flesh side of the black leather on the outside. Soles came both pegged and sewn. In all, the Army bought 1,468,548 pairs of sewn-sole shoes and 1,073,066 pairs with pegged soles. Each man was supposed to receive four pairs of shoes a year, although mounted men could get two pairs of boots instead of shoes. These boots reached mid-calf; some 70 percent of photographed cavalrymen wear them under their trousers, instead of tucking the trousers into the boots.

Pte. William Margraff, 6th Pennsylvania Reserves, wrote home in November 1861: 'A pair of good boots is something that we can't get along without. . . Uncle Sam doesn't furnish us anything but shoes to wear in the winter. The shoes are very good ones to wear in the summer, as they are made with the best of leather, and are made by the best of shoemakers.' The 7th Pennsylvania's Pte. Faller agreed about the value of the boots over shoes, as the former, he wrote in November 1861, 'will be a great deal warmer'. But a number of soldiers

Col. J. Barrel! Swain, nth NY Cav., wears a fleece-trimmed frogged jacket instead of an overcoat; this European-style garment was popular among mounted officers. Swain was apparently a poor officer, his absence 'in quarters, ill' often being noted when the unit went into action. He was dismissed in February 1864. (Benedict R. Maryniak)

Col. J. Barrel! Swain, nth NY Cav., wears a fleece-trimmed frogged jacket instead of an overcoat; this European-style garment was popular among mounted officers. Swain was apparently a poor officer, his absence 'in quarters, ill' often being noted when the unit went into action. He was dismissed in February 1864. (Benedict R. Maryniak)

disagreed with Margraff about the quality of the issue shoe. Gen. Samuel Curtis wrote in February 1862: '1 find the men's shoes so miserable, they have worn them entirely out in six days' marching.' Lt. Moses Osmay, 104th Illinois Infantry, went further, writing: 'The shoes found by the government are often miserable frauds'; and a 22nd Massachusetts infantryman wrote that he had been issued 'flimsey paper-soled contract brogans'.

Many officers and men preferred, at least in

This infantry private wears a dark blue version of the foot soldier's overcoat, as issued in 1861; and the side badge from the dress hat is pinned to the front of his forage cap. (David Scheinmann)

A dashing figure, with dashing whiskers, adopts a dashing pose! He wears the regulation mounted man's double-breasted caped overcoat, and a dress hat worn brim-down and without insignia. (Rick Carlilc)

summer, to buy light-weight, combination white canvas and brown leather 'sporting shoes': these had leather toes, ties, heels, and soles. At times these were even issued Margraff of the 6th Pennsylvania recalled receiving 'a pair of nice white shoes' in July 1861—but more often they came from sutlers or from home.

Socks

The Army bought 20,319,896 pairs of grey or tan woollen socks during the Civil War. Billings recalled: 'There was little attempt to repair the socks drawn from government supplies, for they were generally of the shoddiest description, and not worth it. In symmetry, they were like an elbow of

This infantry private wears a dark blue version of the foot soldier's overcoat, as issued in 1861; and the side badge from the dress hat is pinned to the front of his forage cap. (David Scheinmann)

stove-pipe; nor did the likeness end there, for while the stove-pipe is open at both ends, so were the socks within forty-eight hours after putting them on.'

Socks were often used for gaiters. Pte. Robert Strong, 105th Illinois Regiment, recalled: 'For days we would march with our pants stuck in our stockings and the stockings held up by strings, with mud coming over the top of our shoes at every step."

Overcoats

Commissioned officers wore dark blue overcoats with four black silk frogs across the chest, a detachable cape which reached down to the coat cuffs, and black silk braid on each cuff indicating rank. The number of braids ran from five for a colonel to one for a first lieutenant; second lieutenants wore no braid.

The foot enlisted man had a sky blue wool coat with a standing collar, a single row of five buttons,

A dashing figure, with dashing whiskers, adopts a dashing pose! He wears the regulation mounted man's double-breasted caped overcoat, and a dress hat worn brim-down and without insignia. (Rick Carlilc)

and an elbow-length cape that fastened with six buttons. The mounted soldier's coat differed only in that it had a laydown collar, two rows of buttons on the front, and a cape that reached the cutfs. Between May 1861 and October 1865 the Army bought 2,803,519 foot soldiers'overcoats, 1,023,531 mounted soldiers' overc oats, and 34,71 o 'talmas'. A talma was a rubber- or gutta percha-coated coat with sleeves that reached to the knee, which was supposed to be issued to the cavalry; it lacked a cape, and was worn over the overcoat. Talmas were not issued after 1862, when cavalrymen received ponchos in their place.

Because of the desperate rush to get men clad, in October 1861 the Army issued dark blue, black, and even (among Ohio troops) brown overcoats as well as sky blue ones. From late 1861 officers were allowed to wear enlisted men's overcoats 'in time of actual field service' to make themselves less visible.

Overcoats were not always popular. A cannoneer with Lilly's Indiana Battery wrote home in 1864 that he did not use an overcoat since 'it is more trouble than it is worth in rainy weather. A rubber poncho will keep me dry and does not tire me to death to carry it and in cold weather they do not do such a powerful sight of good in keeping one warm for they are split so far up the back that they let the cold in on the rear, and do but little good on the shoulder.' Another artilleryman solved this problem by lining his coat cape with rubber blanket material, 'so that on unbuttoning it off the collar and turning it wrong side out it became water proof'.

Sashes

Regimental officers were to wear crimson silk net sashes with silk bullion fringed ends, passed twice around the waist and tied behind the left hip, the pendant part hanging no more than 18 ins below the tie. First sergeants and above had red worsted sashes with worsted bullion fringe ends, worn in exactly the same manner. The Army purchased 25,717 sergeants' sashes between May 1861 and October 1865. Sashes were supposed to be worn on all occasions except for stable and fatigue duties, but were actually rarely worn in the field. In addition, the 'officer of the day' was marked by wearing a sash across his body from right shoulder to left hip instead of around his waist.

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