Cavalry Dress

Officially, cavalrymen were to wear a short jacket

A cavalryman stands beside his horse, wearing a pair of gauntlets which surprisingly were not standard issue for mounted troops and had to be privately purchased. David Scheinmann.

usually called a shell jacket made out of of dark blue cloth, with one row of 12 small eagle buttons on the the chest placed at equal distances. The stand up collar was cut away at an angle of 30 degrees and had two blind buttonholes on each side in yellow worsted three eighths of an inch wide, each with one small button. The top buttonhole was four inches long, the lower three and a half inches long. The bottom and front ends of the collar were edged in the same braids, as were the front edge, bottom and two back seams of the coat. Yellow was the facing cover for cavalry, but the 1st and 2nd cavalry who had been mustered into service as the 1st and 2nd dragoons before the Civil War, were proud of their heritage and some of their jackets were lined in orange, the dragoons' traditional facing colour.

lb hold his waist belt in place, the cavalryman had two small bolsters stitched to the back of his jacket. Shorter and more stylish than the infantryman's standard sack coat, the tight fitting shell jackets which extended only as far as the cavalryman's waist gave him

Cavalry Talma
Private pictured wearing the regulation double breasted overcoat for mounted men, but the coat has far fewer buttons on the cape than are normally seen. Wearing coats like these when mounted, could be warm but cumbersome. David Scheinmann.

greater ease when moving in the saddle, but nevertheless cavalrymen would wear sack coats or fatigue blouses in the field. These fatigue blouses reached halfway down the thigh and were made out of dark blue flannel. They fastened with four brass buttons and like a sack coat had an inside pocket over the left breast. Like infantryman's trousers, cavalry trousers were standard issue blue kerseys but they were reinforced around the crotch and inside legs to prevent wear.

Cavalrymen were issued with sky blue cloth overcoats similar to those of the infantry. They had a stand up collar five inches high and were double breasted with two rows of buttons. The coats fell to six to eight inches below the knee and for practical purposes had a slit up the back which when the rider was dismounted could be done up with a concealed flap and buttons. Cavalrymen's coats had a cape attached which was lined with yellow and could be buttoned up as an added protection against the cold.

Cavalrymen
A typical cavalry private poses to have his image made. Note the high collar of his shell jacket and the sword knot just visible dangling down from his sword. In combat, this would be wound around his wrist to stop him dropping his sabre. David Scheinmann.

In foul weather cavalrymen also wore a waterproof cape called a talma which had sleeves and reached to the knees.

While many cavalrymen were proud of their yellow trimmed shell jackets, some preferred single breasted plainer jackets without trim that were made to their

Cavalrymen

Sporting a revolver tucked into his waistbelt, and trousers tucked into his boots, this cavalryman wears an unusual dark blue overcoat. The regulation overcoat colour was sky blue, but in the haste to get men adequately uniformed, dark blue overcoats were also sometimes issued. David Scheinmann.

This smartly dressed and well equipped private wears his full dress Hardee hat converted into a much more manageable form of headgear. Also note the pistol holster on his belt and his bow tie. David Scheinmann.

Sporting a revolver tucked into his waistbelt, and trousers tucked into his boots, this cavalryman wears an unusual dark blue overcoat. The regulation overcoat colour was sky blue, but in the haste to get men adequately uniformed, dark blue overcoats were also sometimes issued. David Scheinmann.

own specifications. One Wisconsin cavalryman complained that his regulation jacket was 'oh so yellow that it made me sick.' Some states manufactured cavalry shell jackets which were close approximations of the official issue varying in the design of the piping, number of buttons and height of the collar.

The uniform of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry featured jackets slightly longer than issue shell jackets and they had red piping on the collar, sleeves and front. The piping was also formed into two rectangular shapes on either side of the jacket front. The shell jackets of the 2nd Missouri Volunteer Cavalry though trimmed in regulation yellow featured a curious diamond design on the jacket fronts, unique in the Union cavalry. 'All additions to or alterations of this uniform as prescribed are positively prohibited,' ordered the regiment's commander, Captain Lewis Merrill.

The men of Wilder's Mounted Brigade, Indiana and Illinois infantrymen who were 'galvanised' into

This smartly dressed and well equipped private wears his full dress Hardee hat converted into a much more manageable form of headgear. Also note the pistol holster on his belt and his bow tie. David Scheinmann.

cavalrymen to help fight Confederate cavalry and bushwackers harrassing supply lines, took no pride at all in the regulation yellow trimmed shell jackets they were issued with. 'We drew cavalry uniforms but cut off the yellow stripes from the seam of the pants and jackets, so that we might not be taken for cavalry,' wrote B.F. McGee, regimental historian of the 72nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry, an outfit not at all enamoured of their new uniforms.

The regular troopers of the 2nd Cavalry who before the war had been the 2nd Dragoons did not want to give up their orange facings at any price. 'Alas for the cherished orange it must give place to the gaudy yellow,' recalled by Theo F. Rodenborough in his book From Everglade to Canyon with the Second Dragoons (New York 1875). But orders permitted the former dragoons to wear their shell jackets with orange facings until they wore out and some men continued to wear them until well into the war.

Confederate Artillery Officer Coat
+1 0

Responses

  • Eero
    What are the cloth rolls on the back of a cavalry soldiers coat for?
    5 years ago
  • alicia
    Why are there cloth rolls on the back of a cavalry shell jacket?
    5 years ago
  • Sara
    What are the bolsters for on the back of civil war cavalry coats?
    4 years ago
  • Bernadette
    Did cavalry wear sack coats?
    1 month ago

Post a comment