The IHunteers of 186065

Before the Civil War the United States had a flourishing network of uniformed volnnicer militia units in addition to the common militia, which was made up of virtually the whole male population. L niformed volunteer units were raised by individuals, usually from an area's social elite who had enough spare money and time to spend on such enthusiasms. The) voted on their unit designation, their oflicers and non-commissioned officers, their unit rules, and tlieir uniform. A unit could apply to its state to be taken oti to the militia muster rolls, which meant that the state would supply ils weapons. Not all states had a militia system, however, and some units preferred independence anyway. A number of both ty pes of unit survive today iu state National Guards or asstate-chartered units.

The uniformed units were generally most noted for ilieir 'fancy dress"; but they did also help to bring the country (loser together-^t hey sjkiii a great deal ill lime visiting each other's towns and participating in joint drills and parades. Many future leaders learned their skills in these ranks, atid volunteer militia units formed the core of many fighting units uti butlj sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Most Southern unilbrmcd volunteer companies volunteered or were called up in 1861, and were subsequently required n> remain in service throughout the war. Northern units saw service in 1861, too, but usually only for three months. They were then mustered out, according to law; many of their members joined fighting units, but the volunteers saw service as formed units thereafter mily in emergencies.

There were thousands of volunteer units iu existence. For example, rural Montgomery County in Pennsylvania boasted active volunteer militia writs in ifibi the Kirst National Dragoons, F'irsi and Second 1 roops of Montgomery County Cavalry, Coschenhoppen (nays, Lalayette Blue^.

Montgomery i>uands. New Hanover Artillerists. Pennsylvania Defenders, Sumneytown Artillerists, Union Gray Artillerists, and Union Rille Company It is itupMssihle, of course, to cover the history and uniforms of all such units in one volume; so we have concent rated on units important for their history or dress.

There were three main styles of uniform: traditional, modern, and specialist. The traditional

In iBfci virtually cvrrv lown of any consequenre in Amerita had somr sort of uniformed volunteer militia company which acquired Taney' uniforms, met and drilled I'runi lime to time, and participated in major civic event» such an the annual Fourth of July parades. .SulIi units were usually made up of the town's leading citizens—'men who could afford the time for drilling and the money for a uniform. Knowledge of the history, uniforms, and even names of many of these units is lost today (although some have lasted through the generations and si ill exist); so we have many photographs tike this, of volunteer militia unit members, that we cannot identify, 'this style of uniform—a dark képi with lighter trim, dark frock coat with lighter trim, brass shoulder scales with fringe, and dark troupers—is typical of many units both in the North and the South. (Author's collectioni

Shoulder Scale Frock CoatMilitia Massachusetts

Jfeoir) A group of volunteer militia troop» in Washin^ron. as shown in the 31 August 1861 issue of Harpers Weekly, From left» two member* of the 8th Massachusetts Infantry; a member of the 71*1 New York State Militia (NYSM); a member of the New Jer*e\ Stale Militia; a member of the ist Rhode Island in that unit** unique pull-over blouse; and members of the 5th NYSM who%e uniform included blue forage caps, grey coats with red trim» and grey trousers with a red stripe up each leg.

{Below} The Independent Blue* of &elmat Alabama, saw Civi War «nice Co.13. Sib Alolnma Injamr-y. 1 heir uaiforu ' included d blAcIt shako with a pompon;! t dark hlur frock coat withikj hlur rpaulriin and (rim irguv the collar and pointed cuff's; and c I > irouhrrs, The cap bade ■ ' wit a 'sunlmrti' as worn by (he Richmond Grays. Men in (h rear rank wear plain dark blue kepis, while the office ' standing second from the right wears a I S Army dress hai i The firslsfrjfaBI (second row, far left) wears ;iuoiltu, whi) . (he sergeant standing fourth from the left in (hat rank has ' revolver in a holster. (Alabama Depart mtm of Archives am s History]

Usma Dress Grey Uniform

uniforms were copies either of Napoleonic War styles. including shakos and coatees swallovM ailed coats rut waist length in front with long (ails at the hark , or of regime [Hal dress from the War ol Independence. Modern dress copied either con-tmiporary I S Army hems especiitlly frock coats or French uniform styles, usually those worn b\ roimrc and clm\eurs, Specialist dress was either the traditional dress of units such as lancets or hussars, or ethnic dress such as the Scottish kill or <toman .spiked helmet.

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