Veteran Reserve Corps and Medics

The Veteran Reserve Corps was created in 1863 as the

Civil War Hats
Soldiers battered their hats into a variety of shapes to personalise them. This cavalry or artillery private, favoured a stovepipe effect with his hat. David Scheinmann.

Invalid Reserve Corps, but this name proved unpopular so it was changed. The Corps was composed of invalid soldiers performing light work or garrison duties freeing able soldiers for the field. Some companies of the Reserve Corps actually saw some combat themselves at Fort Stevens in the Washington defences when they helped to repel a raid byjubal Early's Confederate cavalry. During the skirmish, the Corps lost five men killed.

Men of the Invalid Corps wore sky blue cavalry style jackets, but with shoulder straps. The colour of these jackets was reminiscent of the jackets worn by soldiers in the Mexican War. Ordinary sack coats were worn for fatigue duties and trousers and forage caps were regulation. Officers of the Veteran Reserve Corps wore sky blue frock coats, with dark blue velvet collars, cuffs and shoulder straps. Their sky blue trousers had double stripes of dark blue cloth down the seams.

The first proper ambulance corps was established in the Army of the Potomac in 1862. Before that the only people taking immediate care of wounded soldiers were bandsmen acting as stretcher bearers and about 10 soldiers relieved from normal duties by each regiment, but these men were usually misfits. In the Army of the Potomac each infantry regiment was eventually provided with three ambulances, each cavalry regiment had two ambulances and each artillery regiment had one. Privates in the Ambulance Corp were to wear two inch wide bands around their caps and a green half chevron two inches broad on each arm.

Army surgeons wore majors' uniforms and assistant surgeon's wore captains' uniforms. Their dark blue trousers had gold cord running down each leg seam and their sashes were usually emerald green. Though medical care was far from perfect soldiers could expect far better treatment if they were wounded than their forbears in previous wars. Assisting surgeons in the army was a team of medical cadets, dressed as second lieutenants and recruited from unqualified doctors in training.

Hospital stewards helped doctors and they wore a frock coat trimmed with crimson. On each sleeve they wore distinctive green sashes and their trousers had crimson stripes down the seams of each leg. For formal oocasions, stewards were authorised to wear brass shoulder scales on each shoulder.

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