Union State Uniforms

Although the Union Army had developed a regulation uniform, many States jealously guarded the right to equip their own volunteers. Most States had drawn up their own uniform regulations and many men joining units in these States started the war in uniforms that not only were locally prescribed, but in many cases were manufactured in the State concerned. Some of these States followed the U.S. Army regulations almost exactly, but before 1861 States didn't draw uniforms from army stocks. Regulations in other states varied the design and colour of local volunteer uniforms, but some volunteer units, like the many Zouave and Chasseur regiments already described, chose to ignore State regulations completely and designed their own fanciful uniforms; but thousands of volunteers went to war in regulation state Uniforms.

After 1851 there was a growing trend, notably in Northern cities, to provide volunteer regiments with a standardised uniform, particularly with regiments where each different company designed its own uniforms and could have a motley appearance on parade. Wealthy cities like New York seem to have been particularly successful in getting many of their volunteer regiments neatly uniformed in standard dress. In 1859, the 69th New York State Militia changed its green tail coats for blue uniforms in keeping with the 1858 New York militia regulations and was a typical volunteer regiment that began the war wearing State regulation dress. A report in October 1859 noted: 'The uniform of this regiment is all new and according to the regulation as adopted. The change in the uniform of this regiment is highly creditable to them as the one they have discarded was good and they could have retained it; but, desirous of conforming to the regulation colour, they sacrificed their prejudice for a color that was cherished by them

The three standing figures in this photograph are wearing short jackets with shoulder straps, typical of many New York units. David Scheinmann.

and adopted blue.'

The 69th received coats based on US army regulations which were described as: 'A single breasted frock coat of dark blue cloth with a skirt extending to within four inches of the bend of the knee. One row of nine buttons on the breast, placed at equal distances; stand-up collar to rise no higher than to permit the chin to turn freely over it, to hook in front of the bottom, and slope thence up and backward at an angle of thirty degrees on each side; cuffs pointed according to pattern, and to button with two small buttons at the outer seam. Collar and cuffs edged with a welt of scarlet cloth. Narrow lining for skirt of the coat of same material and colour of the coat; pockets in the

Sloped Pointed Breasts

New York infantry privates in camp wearing state regulation jackets rounded at the front. David Scheinmann.

folds of skirts with one button at the hip to range with the lowest buttons on the breast; no buttons at the ends of the pockets.'

It appears that the regulation coats were often longer than specified, extending as far as the knee. The 69th added narrow red shoulder straps to their coats secured by a small button, and on top of these for full dress they wore scarlet worsted epaulettes.

New York regulation trousers on the eve of the American Civil War, were based on regulation Army trousers worn before 1854 and they were sky blue with a one eighth of an inch scarlet welt on the seams. Full dress caps were based on the army regulation cap of 1851 and were made out of dark blue cloth on a felt body, but varied a little in dimensions. The crowns were about six inches in diameter and were designed to tilt forwards slightly and had a black leather band around the bottom. The caps had visors and a black leather chinstrap attached to the helmet by two buttons.

Officers' dress conformed to the 1858 pattern New-York regulations which was a close approximation of US standard army patterns, cxcept that the skirts of coats were longer. Regulations stated: 'All officers shall wear a frock coat of dark blue cloth, the waist to extend to the top of the hip and the skirt to within one inch of the bend of the knee.' The coats were lined black and the epaulettes and shoulder straps were of the standard New York and regular army pattern. Coats were worn with sky blue trousers which had scarlet welts down each side bordered with gold lace. New York regulation officers' caps were to be made out of dark blue cloth but the crowns were meant to lie flat without any stiffening inside.

Regulations adopted in April 1861, prescribed dark blue jackets for New York troops, which were meant to have eight buttons on the front and reach down four inches from a man's waistbelt. Trousers were described as being light blue with a full cut in the legs. New York state issued overcoats were to be of a similar pattern as the regular army.

The New York issue regulation forage caps were very unsual. They were supposed to incorporate a


This well armed volunteer wears a typical state issued jacket with shoulder straps. He's also wearing a state buckle, but it's almost impossible to make out the full design. David Scheinman.

Bosnian Army Waistcoat

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Wmmm water proof cover similar to a havelock, which fell to the shoulder. This complicated accessor}' was designed to he buttoned on the kepi visor and it was also fitted with strings so that it could be tied at the chin. Regulations also stated that each enlisted man should be provided with two cotton flannel shirts, two pairs of stout woollen socks, a pair of stout shoes and a waterproofed blanket.

The most usual jacket issued to New York Volunteers was dark blue with a low standing collar. These jackets had light blue trim, although some jackets have piping of a blue green colour. New York jackets had shoulder straps, similar to the straps found on many Confederate jackets, but the New York jacket shoulder straps were trimmed light blue. Eight large brass buttons with the state insignia were worn down the front of the jacket, featuring the coat of arms of the City of New York and the motto 'Excelsior'.

Jackets were lined with cotton and a narrow pocket, called a slash pocket, was often a feature over the left breast. Jacket sleeves had two small buttons on each cuff, but these were for decorative purposes only: the cuffs could not be opened. New York State jackets were issued to more than 100 regiments from New York and New York state and the majority were good, hard wearing garments.

In 1863 New York wanted to clothe all its many militia units the same way, with dark blue jackets which had pointed white cuffs. Two styles of uniform were available; the first was the ever popular Chasseur pattern with a long Chasseur jacket, a piped cap of dark blue and full sky blue trousers. The second comprised a dark blue polka jacket trimmed with white piping. This uniform had the same cap as the Chasseur uniform and sky blue trousers.

Trousers were a light indigo colour and had tape edging around the pockets for militiamen who wore Chasseur jackets. Dark blue kepis were provided with the state coat of arms worn on the front. Mounted units of the militia wore regular cavalry style jackets with forage caps or brimmed hats. Buttons again featured the state coat of arms and officers and non commissioned officers had handsome rectangular sword belts with an NY motif raised in silver. Enlisted men wore standard 'SNY' beltplates.

It generally looks as if New York's enlisted men armed and equipped by the State were well catered for. In 1862 the Quartermaster General of the State of New York issued the 143rd New York Volunteer Infantry, another typical regiment with this bonanza of items; 1,160 infantry jackets, 1,000 infantry trousers, 1,000 infantry great coats, 1,600 great coat straps, 1,000 caps, 1,016 letters, 3,043 numbers, 1,015

blankets, 2,000 shirts, 2,100 drawers, 2,100 pairs of socks and 1,000 pairs of shoes.

Connecticut's militia system dated back to the 17th century and boasted the longest established militia units in the Union. Indeed, two of its present National Guard regiments can claim direct descendancy from units formed in the State over 300 years ago. The State was proud of its volunteer forces but on the eve of the Civil War many units were lacking adequate uniforms. The Military Gazette, published in New York, claimed that Connecticut's eight State regiments were 'in a most sickly and ephemeral condition' and such comments prompted the Connecticut authorities to improve the quality and design of State issued uniforms. A state uniform had originally been adopted by Connecticut in 1847 which with minor exceptions was similar to the uniform worn by the U.S. Army.

In 1851 Connecticut based its State uniforms on the new pattern uniforms being introduced into the Regular Army, the Governor of Connecticut felt that these uniforms would combine 'the essential requisites of neatness, cheapness, comfort and utility'. "The new uniforms cost less than 15 dollars and all militia units were ordered to wear them when their existing uniforms wore out.

The new uniform for officers and men was a dark blue frock coat and trousers. Buttons were arranged the same as the Regular Army. Dark blue cloth caps were part of the uniform which had distinctively coloured pompons. Officers' overcoats were double breasted, while those for enlisted men were single breasted. Strangely response was slow from the militia units to equip themselves with these state issued uniforms. The Adjutant General said that units not conforming to the new uniform pattern should be fined and even planned to circulate a series of coloured prints depicting the uniform so there could be no excuse in volunteers not knowing about them.

Eventually four fifths of the Connecticut militia were outfitted in State uniforms which because of their accessories were some of the most colourful of the American Civil War. Two companies of each Connecticut regiment were usually classed as rifle companies and wore green pompons on their caps, green piping on their coats and green trouser stripes.

An independent rifle regiment was raised in 1861


This private of the 65th New York Volunteers who were known as the 1st U.S. Chasseurs, is wearing a New York Chasseur jacket trimmed light blue. The 65th's forage caps were very unusual. They were standard issue forage caps with the peaks and chinstraps removed. David Scheinmann.

David Scheinmann

%!8K5::i and all the men had green facings. But although their uniforms were smart, the armaments issued to some of the men, as recalled by one militiaman, were less than adequate. 'They brought out a lot of old Springfield smooth-bore muskets for us, the same as they had already given to some of the other companies of our regiment. We just informed them that we were not going to carry them guns - we preferred Sharps rifles. We were a rifle company; hadn't wc got green stripes sewed on our pants?'

Connecticut artillerymen wore scarlet pompons and had scarlet piping and trouser stripes. Cavalrymen had orange facings and many wore felt hats and plumes instead of dress caps. Volunteers were usually uniformed and equipped by the towns from which they came. The blue cloth for the uniforms wras cut up by teams of local ladies and made into uniforms. Until proper forage caps could be obtained many men took the stiffening out of their formal dress caps and wore them with the crowns flat.

In early 1861 supplies of blue cloth ran out so that one Connecticut volunteer infantry regiment had to be uniformed in grey. Their uniforms w ere based on the famous grey uniforms worn by the 7th Regiment New York State Militia, the Old Greybacks. The men were also issued with a light grey cap.

Connecticut regiments were renowned for the formality of their dress and they were especially noted for the time they took polishing their brasswork, but Connecticut regiments like regiments in general suffered from uniforms made of poor quality cloth, some of which didn't last beyond the first months of the war. Four Connecticut infantry regiments were issued with trousers and jackets made out of a cheap blend of wool and cotton that quickly fell apart during the rigours of the Bull Run campaign. It's said that when the men returned home many of them paraded in trousers made up out of old blankets and some even wore items of captured Confederate clothing.

Connecticut full dress shakos, some of which saw service during the War bore the state coat of arms; vines with grapes over the motto Qui transtulit sustinet. Officers bore wore the letters CM as their badge. Buttons on state issued uniforms also bore the same motto as the shakos. Despite the previous comments of the rifleman bemoaning the fact that his unit was not well equipped with weapons, it seems that Connecticut volunteers issued weapons by the State were generally better off than the volunteers from many other states.

Connecticut was a heavily industrialised state and was able to buy its weapons from a variety of local manufacturers, including the Colt Firearms Company.

Samuel Colt even planned to raise, arm and equip a regiment at his own expense. Colt wanted to raise a regiment composed of tall men of good character and insisted on the right of being able to select all the officers personally, but authorities deemed that the regiment would be elitist and Colt's request to raise a body of troops for the Union was eventually turned down.

Connecticut troops were issued with several unusual items of equipment by the state, including a unique canteen and ration box combined. Many of the issued knapsacks seem to have been particularly uncomfortable because the carrying straps meant the whole weight was concentrated on a man's lung area. The rubber knapsacks also had an appalling smell. The New Haven Daily Register wrote: 'They are the meanest specimens of equipment that you can smell about as far as they can be seen.'

The state of Maine issued many of its volunteer forces with uniforms which came in a bewildering variety of shades of grey. In 1861 troops received frock coats with eight buttons stamped with the Maine coat of arms down the front, grey trousers and grey forage caps. These could be in Canada grey or were issued in light grey, cadet grey and a bluish cadet grey colour. Blue uniforms were also issued to some regiments in the state which unlike the regulation Army uniforms had dark blue trousers, instead of light blue kerseys. Indeed for some reason Maine troops always preferred wearing dark blue to light blue trousers.

Soldiers from Maine had Mexican war style waistbelt plates marked with 'VMM' with stood for Volunteer Militia of Maine. These waistbelts were smaller than the regulation size, but the men's cartridge box plates also marked 'VMM' came in the same size as regulation army cartridge box plates. Maine soldiers were armed with 1855 rifle muskets and 1858 pattern Enfields from State stores.

It seems that Maine state issued uniforms, unlike some uniforms issued by other States, were not worn long into the war. The majority of men replaced the State dress with regulation army dress after they marched to Washington in the summer of 1861. Doubtless some Maine items did stay in service, including the State's waist belt plates and cartridge box plates.

A poor frontier state, Minnesota could not afford to outfit its troops in the smart uniforms many of the smart Eastern states supplied. The uniform issued to Minnesota troops reflected their background and comprised rugged thick shirts which in the main seem to have been red or checkered, black trousers, and wide brimmed black hats. Parts of the uniform seem to

Mexican War New York Legion Shell Jacket

This New Hamsphire volunteer holds his forage cap which bears the initial 'E' for his company, the number of his regiment, and 'NHV' for his state initials. David Schienmann.

have been extremely serviceable and certainly the men of Minnesota were renowned for their famous check or red shirts throughout the war. Some accounts about Minnesota troops as late as 1863 mention their broad hats and shirts. Officially the regular Army had long taken over supplying the Minnesota troops with uniforms by this time, but it seems that many men still treasured and maintained their early war uniforms.

At the outbreak of the Civil War Michigan's state authorities ordered that uniforms should immediately be made up of blue flannel or some other suitable material blue in colour. Many Michigan soldiers ended

This New Hamsphire volunteer holds his forage cap which bears the initial 'E' for his company, the number of his regiment, and 'NHV' for his state initials. David Schienmann.

up wearing dark blue trousers and dark blue jackets which had standing collars like army regulation frock coats. The Michigan jackets had nine buttons down the front and shoulder straps. The men were also supplied with shirts, drawers, forage caps, socks, shoes, haversacks, canteens and cooking utensils, and the State also armed some of its soldiers with limited quantities of 1855 rifle muskets. The rest were largely armed with imported weapons.

On May 19 1861, New Jersey's State Board of Commissioners prescribed the uniform for the State's three month regiments as a 'dark blue frock coat, light blue pants and army cockade hat'. It appears that the dress the majority of New Jersey State troops wore would have differed very little from that of the regulars, except that their sack coats had five buttons down the front instead of four, but a feature of many officers' coats is that they were trimmed light blue down the front and on the cuffs. Unusually the State equipped two Zouave regiments, with their uniforms, and these had dark blue jackets, with dark blue waistcoats and trousers, a blue sash edged in light blue and blue and red forage caps.

Elite militia units in New Jersey could become part of the New Jersey Rifle Corps and wear either Chasseur pattern jackets or fatigue jackets. They could choose to wear cither grey or blue Chasseur or fatigue jackets.

State issued buttons for New Jersey troops featured the New Jersey coat of arms although some buttons just had NJ stamped on them. New Jersey's arsenal at Trenton supplied many New Jersey troops with weapons, notably copies of the 1861 rifle musket.

Before the Civil War, Vermont hadn't provided any uniform regulations for its State troops and the rush to get volunteers into uniforms saw stocks of grey cloth being hastily ordered. The 1st Regiment Vermont Volunteers wore a dated looking grey uniform with tailed coats, but other regiments were outfitted in frock coats made out of brownish grey material trimmed in blue. The coats had nine buttons down the front and the trousers and forage caps issued to Vermont's volunteers early in the war were also distinctively trimmed in blue. State buttons bore the state coat of arms and Vermont underneath, and the 13th Vermont Regiment had special cap badges which featured the regimental number in a wreath. Arms issued to Vermont troops were a mixture of 1855 rifle muskets and smoothbore 1842 muskets.

The regular army eventually took over clothing supplies for Vermont regiments but it seems that instead of wearing comfortable sack coats Vermont troops preferred instead to wear regulation frock coats throughout the war as many pictures of Vermont troops show.

It seems that several States were lacking the means to outfit and equip their forces for the war. The worst offender was Ohio where the State arsenal contained little more than a few boxes of rusty smoothbore weapons, some of them more than 20 years old. It was even rumoured that some of these muskets dated as far back as the war of 1812. It would be a nightmare getting Ohio troops ready for war because the arsenal contained no accoutrements, not even basic items like belts or cartridge boxes.

It was a daunting task to make proper preparations but Ohio's Jacob D. Cox was determined that Ohio troops should be outfitted and armed properly. At the beginning of the Civil War, Ohio wanted to clothe her troops in uniforms that were so close to Army regulations that little change would be required when the troops went into U.S. service. However, the State wanted some part of the soldiers' uniforms to be distinctive, so it was recommended that the state coat of arms should be stamped on buttons and cap plates; but it seems that many of the troops just had regulation buttons on their clothing.

Before 1862, when the Federal authorities took over the task of uniforming Ohio's soldiers, Ohio arranged to outfit its troops by issuing clothing contracts to a number of firms both inside and outside the state. It was stressed that uniforms should be: 'thoroughly well made and trimmed and in all respects to conform to Regulations'. Ohio even contracted for a supply of 8,000 regulation infantry frock coats with brass shoulder scales, but supplies of blue cloth ran out and fresh stocks were difficult to procure.

Ohio infantry regiments had to be clad in less elaborate uniforms comprising blue flannel blouses, and sky blue kersey trousers. Blue fatigue caps with havelocks or glazed covers were given to troops and black felt hats were also issued, but these quickly lost their shape. Shirts were made out of red or grey flannel. Ohio's artillery and cavalrymen were issued with dark blue cloth shell jackets and dark blue reinforced trousers. Overcoats were of sky blue kersey.

Like many States, Ohio had troubles in getting enough supplies of blue wool, so uniforms were often made out of grey cloth instead and at least 10 Ohio regiments were uniformed in grey and more than 5,000 jackets made out of cadet grey cloth were issued. Late in the war, the Ohio State Militia was formed, a unit that wore uniforms identical to the Regular Army but which had state distinctions on waistbelts and cartridge box plates. Cartridge box plates and waistbelt plates were similar to regulation plates, but bore the initials 'OVM'. Circular shoulder belt plates bearing the 'OVM' initials were also worn.

Ohio regiments were armed with a bewildering array of weapons including 1842 smoothbore muskets converted from flintlock, Prussian muskets, and Fnfield rifle muskets.

It was planned that all Pennsylvania regiments should be uniformly dressed in blue, but again sufficient quantities of blue material were impossible to obtain so grey uniforms were widely worn. Colours varied from cadet grey to tan or light grey and very dark grey. Some jackets which were made out of 'mixed forest cloth' were light grey on one side and dark grey on the other, making a very strange appearance.

Most Pennsylvania troops in the early days of the war would have worn grey forage caps, grey jackets and trousers. Jackets usually had nine or 12 buttons down the front and were looped at the bottom like many New York State jackets to keep waistbelts in place. Some troops also wore trousers of a linen material and even brown trousers were issued. A surprising number of Pennsylvania volunteer soldiers were still wearing grey uniforms even after 1862. The Philadelphia Home Guard wore grey uniforms for much of the war which must have looked very unusual when these grey uniforms were worn with full dress Hardee hats.

Many men of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps formed from surplus regiments in the rush of men volunteering for Union service, were meant to wear regulation Union Army uniforms but many wore grey-jackets and trousers. Buttons on Pennsylvania uniforms bore the state coat of arms and brass oval belt plates were also issued, often marked with individual unit designations. More often than not regulation army belt plates marked 'US' were worn. It doesn't seem that Pennsylvania had any trouble arming its men. Most of their weapons came directly from the government.

Illinois had very sparse dress regulations for its troops, merely requiring that volunteer officers should wear close approximations of the uniforms worn by regular officers in the Union Army. Illinois was hoping that the Federal government would arm and equip its men right from the start of the war, but the government was not forthcoming. Illinois troops at first received a sparse state issue of grey shirts, blue forage caps, and red blankets. The State authorities appear to have been so desperate for uniforms that a consignment of clothing was even ordered from suppliers in New York, but these uniforms which featured grey jackets and trousers and even Zouave caps, wore out very quickly.

When more regiments were raised in Illinois uniforms were locally made usually by seamstresses in the men's hometowns. Illinois soldiers could expect to receive grey or blue jackets and trousers but when the State made greater provisions for uniforms, volunteers were supposed to receive blue or grey jackets and trousers cut in the same style as U.S. regulation

Whipple Hat Civil War
Odd looking Whipple caps, like the one worn by this soldier were widely issued to troops from New York and New Hampshire. Despite their ungainly appearance, the hats proved to be popular. David Scheinmann.

jackets, two flannel shirts, two pairs of socks and a stout pair of shoes. In practice it seems that most Illinois volunteers wore grey uniforms with grey broad brimmed hats turned up at the side like regulation Hardee hats. Hats issued to a number of Illinois regiments featured the unusual ornamentation of a brass button attached to a red, white and blue cockade.

The 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th infantry regiments in the first brigade of Illinois volunteers received grey coats edged in blue while artillery units received grey coats edge in red. Fatigue uniforms featuring Zouave caps were also issued. Cavalry regiments were issued with red shirts and dark blue trousers, but they were later issued with Union Army regulation dress. In 1862, doubtless much to the relief of State officials, the U.S. Quartermaster took over supplying Illinois troops with uniforms and a huge amount of uniform items were issued including more than 17,000 coats. Unlike the troops in many other States, Illinois soldiers are not thought to have worn any distinctive buttons with their uniforms. Illinois soldiers were mainly armed with Springfield rifle muskets.

Broad brimmed black hats originally issued to troops from Minnesota and Illinois were also a feature of the original State uniforms issued to volunteer soldiers from Indiana. Uniforms from Western States tended to be much more functional and far less decorative than the uniforms issued by their Eastern counterparts, largely because Western States didn't have such an old militia system as their Eastern comrades-in-arms. Regiments in Indiana were issued uniforms made out of satinet or jean cloth, the latter material is a form of cloth usually associated with uniforms manufactured in the Confederacy. Hats were meant to be looped up at each side.

It seems that two of Indiana's regiments began the war wearing grey jackets and trousers and blue shirts, while the others wore light blue jackets. In September 1861 grey uniforms trimmed with black were issued but it seems that when new regiments were raised they were outfitted in standard Army dress although many grey and blue jackets would have survived. Indiana's regiments received 1842 pattern smoothbore muskets and Enfield rifle muskets.

The State of Iowa took little pride in its militia units before the Civil War and at the outbreak of hostilities Iowa State authorities were forced to buy cloth from Chicago to make enough uniforms for Iowa troops. Some troops wore loose fitting baggy shirts with green trim and dark grey trousers, while others wore similar uniforms trimmed red, but these uniforms wore out in a matter of weeks. Alter the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Iowa troops were so destitute, that many were reduced to patching their trousers with material from flour sacks. Some even wore aprons made out of these sacks, because their trousers were beyond repair.

Replacement uniforms were ordered from Boston and these proved to be far sturdier. Troops from Iowa's first three infantry regiments were issued with grey frock coats and trousers, flannel shirts and felt hats. Later issues of clothing were made by the Federal government. Iowa troops were issued with a variety of weapons including French and Belgian rifles.

Wisconsin wanted its troops dressed in blue, but again there wasn't enough blue material to go around, so the majority of Wisconsin's volunteers wore grey uniforms. It was a particularly smart dress with single breasted frock coats, grey trousers ornamented with a black cord down each seam, grey kepis trimmed black and a grey overcoat with black piping.

The 3rd Wisconsin's uniform featured grey hunting shirts and light grey trousers. Other regiments wore single breasted jackets, with black shoulder straps and black decoration on the cuffs and collars. The jackets also had loops at the bottom so that a belt could be passed through and the rest of the uniform included grey forage caps, grey trousers with the popular black stripe down the seams and grey overcoats. Wisconsin volunteers were later largely dressed in blue uniforms issued by the State, including dark blue coats with stand up collars. Black hats, sky blue trousers and forage caps were also issued. Later in the war, Wisconsin regiments received their clothing from Federal supplies and were armed and dressed with regular uniforms, weapons and equipment.

Massachusetts had authorised a state uniform for its troops as far back as 1852, but many of its militia units were inadequately clothed at the beginning of the war. Many soldiers were just issued basic uniform parts such as shirts, but little else. Grey flannel uniforms were quickly made which came with red Zouave fezzes. This distinctive headgear was later replaced by felt hats, but doubtless many volunteers wore their fezzes for at least the first two years of the war. Massachusetts procured over 9,000 grey infantry jackets and over 1,000 cavalry and artillery jackets.

Two Massachusetts regiments never wore grey uniforms and were outfitted in blue right from the start of the war, and eventually all units from the State wore regulation blue. An interesting aspect of the accoutrements carried by Massachusetts volunteers is that many of them were British made. 10,000 British accoutrement sets were distributed to Massachusetts soldiers.

The dated long tailed coats that many New Hampshire Volunteers began the war in were considered to be out of step with uniform trends and they were replaced with state issued grey frock coats of a light or mid grey shade. Collar and cuffs were trimmed in red like the old coats, but the cuff trim like the regulation army frock coats was pointed. The coats had nine buttons down the front and the rear skirts of the coat were similar, if not identical to regulation frock coats.

The most distinctive part of New Hampshire's state issued uniforms was an unusual cap called a New Hampshire Cap that was similar to the unusual caps first issued but later rejected by Berdan's Sharpshooters. One New I lampshire soldier described his cap as: 'A helmet like structure of waterproof cloth with a visor before and behind, the top resembling a squash and the whole lined and padded. This was the


This corporal is also a New Hampshire Volunteer. David Scheinmann.

Civil War Sack Coat Corporal

New Hampshire cap and although it would do in a row to keep blows from the head and was good to protect the neck from rain, yet in summer it was a sweltering concern.'

The hat visors were made out of leather, while the flaps at the back were made out of the same material as the main body of the caps. The caps had leather chin straps which were fastened with a buckle. New I Iampshire troops were later provided with regulation dress that had a few subtle differences from standard Union Army uniforms. Frock coats did not have piping on the cuffs or collar and the shoulders had shoulder straps with pointed ends, held in place by a small button which didn't reach quite to the collar.

The famous blouses supervised by Ambrose E. Burnside for the 1st Regiment Rhode Island Detached Militia became the State's issued dress. Rhode Island had an array of individually clad militia units who wore different uniforms, many of them very dated. The Providence First Light Artillery who formed Companies C and D of the 1st Regiment wore scarlet tail coats trimmed light blue and buff with red and white epaulettes, light blue trousers with white stripes. 1'he Pawtucket Light Guard, Company E of the same regiment wore a grey uniform trimmed yellow with red cuff flaps and a dress cap with a red pompon.

Surprisingly, it seems that Rhode Island's volunteers didn't mind swapping their elaborate uniforms for the more simple State outfits. Perhaps it was because their distinctive clothing picked up a lot of attention. The Washington Star wrote: 'Their dress is characteristic. At the bottom they wear stout, thick soled cowhide boots; their pants are homemade grey and over this they wear a dark blue jean frock or hunting shirt, added to which they mount the new army hat turned up at the side.' Officers wore variations of the standard blouse, some had five small buttons reaching down from the neck, some blouses had a large inside pocket, and some were double breasted.

The 1st Rhode Island Artillery Battery wore dress

uniforms based on US Army regulations, which had dark blue frock coats and sky blue trousers. For fatigue dress enlisted men wore dark blue shell jackets piped in scarlet at the collar and cuffs and which had nine buttons down the front. Trousers were the standard reinforced issue. On campaign, officers wore dark blue Rhode Island blouses, dark blue trousers and forage caps. The second battery originally wore Rhode Island blouses and dress hats, but thev were later issued with regulation light artillery dress.

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  • Kenneth
    Did zouaves use cowhide knapsacks during the civil war?
    8 years ago

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