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The uniform worn by the U.S. Army during the Civil War of 1861-1865 developed over a long period of time and is the result of many different traditions and influences. The most notable feature of the uniform coat was its dark blue color. The tradition of the Army wearing blue dates from the Revolutionary War when many of the American units wore blue. During certain periods individual units of the Regular Army may have been uniformed in other colors, even bandsmen in red, but blue predominated. The tradition carries forward until today when the Army dress uniform is still dark blue in color. The notion of a soldier wearing a uniform that served to camouflage him would have been very foreign to the thinking of period military officers. Conventional military tactics involved maneuver of massed men on open ground in full view of the enemy and soldiers were expected to be brave under fire. Many officers believed that field fortifications robbed men of their will to fight aggressively and forbade their men to build them. By the later part of the war casualties taught otherwise and the field works at Petersburg were every bit as sophisticated as those of the First World War. However, it was not until the Spanish-American War that the Army adopted uniforms of a khaki color that had some camouflage value. Similarly the uniform was made of wool and no effort was made to produce a uniform that would be comfortable in warm climates. It was not unusual for soldiers to dress more casually while on campaign, but the standards of the day were unforgiving and gentlemen did not appear in public in their shirt-sleeves. Heat stroke was a common occurence while on the march in hot weather. Certain uniform items were light blue. This material was much less expensive to purchase during the period. The quartermaster enjoyed the cost savings of the light blue pants and overcoats and they also provided a contrast in color. The Invalid (Veteran Reserve) Corps, established during the war to return wounded men to limited service, wore a totally sky blue uniform. Another notable feature of the American uniform insignia is the use of the eagle motif. The eagle is a symbol of the United States and was officially adopted as the central element of the seal of the United States. Eagles were used to pin the side of the hat up, as the motif on many of the buttons, on the cartridge box cross belt plate and on the sword belt plate. The abbreviation U.S. appeared on the oval belt buckle and cartridge box plate. In other ways the uniform reflected civilian influences. The basic frock (uniform) coat and the sack (fatigue) coat were based on civilian styles. There was a resistance on the part of some older officers to the adoption of these coats in that they were not military in appearance. The Jeff Davis or Hardee hat, adopted in 1855 for cavalry and in 1858 for the Army in general, had almost no military precedent and may have even been more unpopular. The uniform dress cap of 1872 replaced the Jeff Davis hat with a cap that is a cross in appearance between a kepi and a shako with a pompom in the front. It may look ridiculous to modern eyes but satisfied the contemporary sense of headgear having a military appearance, something the Jeff Davis hat lacked.


The Jeff Davis (Hardee) hat and its replacement the 1872 full dress cap (Ogden plates). Foreign influences on American uniforms remains a controversial subject among those interested in uniforms. It is undeniable that Americans followed European trends and frequently imitated them. There were two influential foreign powers to which America looked. The first was Great Britain and the second France. Britain had been the United States colonial master and the enemy in two wars, but there were nevertheless very strong cultural and commercial tries. However, the U.S. Army leadership were War of 1812 veterans and tended not to favor things British. France on the other hand had been an ally in the Revolution. The military resurgence of France under Napoleon III attracted American interest in French uniforms. French was part of the curriculum at West Point and American officers regularly visited France to study new developments. To have visited France and to be fluent in French added to the prestige of individual American officers, such as McClellan, Halleck and even Irvin McDowell. The American Army adopted French-based systems of tactics.


The French Voltiguer of the Imperial Guard Uniform of 1870 (from an original plate by Knötel courtesy of James Star) next to the American uniform of 1858 (Ogden plate). The uniform adopted by the United States in 1851 shows heavy French influence. The basic cut of the uniform coat adopted in 1851 is French. The French were the first to adopt a uniform based on the frock coat, while the British were among the last. The cap of 1851 was a copy of the French model of 1844. Like their French counterparts, enlisted men wore collar ornaments and worsted epaulettes, but by March 1858 all three of the latter items were dropped. The kepi or forage cap is another good example. Also, the American use of Zouave uniforms is well-known. Among the most drastic examples of French influence was the purchase of 10,000 French Chasseurs à pied uniforms. These were issued to 62nd and 83rd Pennsylvania and 18th Massachusetts and also to the the Excelsior Brigade (70th, 71st, 72nd, 73rd, and 74th New York). Plans for additional purchases ran afoul of domestic politics and the tendency for the French uniforms to be cut too small for Americans. For a complete discussion of the Chasseur uniform see the articles by Don Troiani beginning in the XXVI (2) issue of the magazine North South Trader's Civil War. Other European powers, such as Austria or the German states, seem to hold very little interest among Americans who did not feel that the military culture of these countries were worthy of imitation.


Lanham, Howard. "Generalizations regarding the U. S. Army Uniform of the Civil War." Howard Lanham's Home Page. 19 April 2009. <http://howardlanham.tripod.com/general.html>.

Note to self: LOTS MORE INFORMATION HERE IN POINT FORM IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE SITE.


The typical Civil War uniform that a Union soldier wore during the war was made primarily of wool. Along with the uniform soldiers wore a belt which held a cap box, cartridge box, bayonet with scabbard, haversack which held their rations, canteen, and a blanket

Civil War Uniform roll which contained a wool blanket, a shelter half and a rubber blanket and poncho. Soldiers also carried a bag called a knapsack or haversack, which contained an extra pair of socks, writing paper, stamps and envelopes, ink and pen, razor, toothbrush, comb and any other items that each individual soldier decided to keep with them. Of course if you were Johnny Reb you didn’t have all the luxuries that the typical Union soldier had. Confederate soldiers typically traveled much lighter than their Northern counterparts. This wasn’t necessarily because they wanted to, but rather because they just had no other choice. They just didn’t have as many items as the Northern troops had. As far as the uniforms go, the southern Civil War uniform was vastly different from their neighbors to the North. They were made of cotton, wool and a type of jean cloth. Union uniforms were vastly superior to confederate uniforms in almost every way. This was simply because the Northern states had all the manufacturing plants that could produce quality clothing. The south never had this kind of manufacturing base and was never able to produce the quality clothing that the North was able to.

Civil War Haversack The South had plenty of cotton to make the uniforms unfortunately they just didn’t have the tools to produce them. The Southern uniforms that they did have were usually dyed to make them gray or sometimes brown, this was done to at least try to give uniformity throughout the army. Union soldiers often referred to confederate soldiers as Butternuts because of the grayish brown color of their uniforms. Southern soldiers also wore short jackets and vests as well as shirts and underwear that were usually mailed to them from home. Shoes were also a major problem for the Rebel army. They didn’t have enough of them and the ones that they did have were very poor quality. In fact it got so bad for the army of Northern Virginia that one of the major reasons Lee decided to attack Gettysburg was to capture a large stockpile of Union shoes. Unfortunately for Lee he didn’t get Gettysburg or the shoes.


"Civil War Uniform." Civil War Academy.com. 2008. 19 April 2009. <http://www.civilwaracademy.com/civil-war-uniform.html>.

Forage Cap Probably the most recognizable piece of the Civil War uniform is the forage cap. It was called a forage cap because when turned upside-down, the floppy crown fell down and the cap turned into a bucket - perfect for berries and nuts. Often soldiers would place company and regimental insignia on the disk. Vest To the campaigning soldier, a vest was unnecessary weight, so few enlisted men wore them. However, with etiquette of the 1860's, the vest was an important part of a man's clothing. This vest is a civilian pattern rather than a military vest, since the military vests had to be bought at high prices (they were not issued). Musicians' Frock Coat This was the standard U.S. nine button wool frock coat with a piping pattern, or "bird cage," across the front. From studying period photographs of fifers and drummers, it is seen that many of them wore a plain frock coat or a sack coat, as opposed to a musicians' frock coat. The musicians' frock coat is appropriate for early to mid war impressions, garrison duty, parades, and honor guard. If you are planning to eventually pick up a musket, you may want to purchase a normal frock coat or a sack coat, which is acceptable for a musician to have at any point during the war. Then you can use it when you get a musket. Trowsers Did you notice the spelling? The 19th century spelling of trowsers includes the "W," while modern spelling replaces the "W" with a "U" in trousers. Either way, these light blue woolen pants were the standard issue to most Union soldiers. Note that the suspenders attached to them are of a civilian pattern. Suspenders, or braces, were not issued by the U.S. government at this time, therefore a soldier needed to supply his own.

. "Uniforms." The Civil War Fife and Drum Page. . . 19 April 2009. <http://www.geocities.com/cwfifedrum/uniforms.html>.




    • Musicians had other equipment than the standard infantry gear. Here is what a fifer or drummer would have carried with him on the march.

Model 1840 Musicians' Sword and Belt This was part of the standard U.S. issue equipment of a musician. The blade was 26 inches long with a simple brass handle. It was carried either by a shoulder sling (baldric), which had an eagle breastplate, or by a frog attached to the waist belt (as shown) worn on the left side. The sword would be appropriate for early war impressions (1861-1862) or for garrison duty. Many Union musicians of the war found the sword to be useless and cumbersome so they just tossed it aside, however a few kept it as it was their only mean of defense. The sword is also appropriate for parades or honor guard, but unless you are planning to be a musician for a long time, do not bother spending the money to purchase it. The issue belt for Union musicians and NCO's was a two piece belt plate with an eagle and silver wreath on the front. The belt itself is adjustable in length. Also acceptable for musicians is the common oval US belt plate. As for Confederates, the sword was not issued and any common Confederate belt was used.

Haversack and Canteen The U.S. issue haversack shown is a canvas bag painted with a black water-repellent tar. Confederates used similar bags, some without the black tar. Rations, as well as cooking and eating utensils, were kept inside the haversack. The canteen is the U.S. model 1862 bullseye canteen, which has corrugated sides for strength. Confederates had similar canteens, both tin and wooden. The haversack and canteen were often worn on the left side. Knapsack and Blanket This Union double bag knapsack is painted with the same oil based black tar as the haversack. Things such as the gum blanket, shelter half, extra clothing, and personal items were carried in this pack. This is just one of many models used by both Union and Confederate troops. It was common for regimental designation to be painted on the outside of the pack. U.S. blankets varied from grays to browns, and Confederates often also used blankets from home. Here, a brown U.S. blanket one is strapped to the top. Gum Blanket Probably the best piece of equipment ever invented is the gum blanket. It is made of a piece of material backed by a thin coating of rubber. This useful piece can be used as a ground cloth, poncho, tent flap, insulating blanket, and as a tarp to transport straw. Both Union and Confederate soldiers had this available to them. Shelter Half Each man carried with him one half of a tent, so when the troops made camp, two men would pair up, button their tents together, and then share the tent. It was made of a light weight canvas material, and both sides used the shelter tents when available.


. "Equipment." The Civil War Fife and Drum Page. . . 19 April 2009. <http://www.geocities.com/cwfifedrum/equipment.html>. Civil War Uniforms of the United States Military

The dress of U.S. infantry volunteers varied greatly at the start of the Civil War and no effort was made to enforce conformity until after the First Battle of Bull Run. In that battle Union troops fought in French Zouave dress, tartan Scots caps and trousers, and cadet-gray outfits matching many Confederate designs. Several Northern prewar militias with strong ethnic rosters adopted military dress styles from their homeland. The Garibaldi Guard of New York City wore an Italian-style uniform featuring a broad flat hat adorned with chicken feathers. A unit made up mostly of French immigrants wore an Algerian campaign uniform. The 79th New York wore kilts on parade. This same variety was found in Confederate States uniforms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Though volunteer units were not forbidden distinctive dress in 1861 and 1862, by mid war field hardships had forced most to abandon their original uniforms and adopt the dress prescribed for U S Regulars. This allowed easier communication in the field since Regular Army uniform regulations made rank and service affiliation recognizable at a distance.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Infantry officers and enlisted men wore dark blue frock coats hanging to mid thigh; majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels, and all general officers coats were double-breasted. Those ranking lower wore single breasted frock coats. Major generals coats were distinguished by 9 buttons in each row, the buttons grouped in threes. Brigadier generals wore 8 buttons to a row, grouped by twos. Colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors each wore 2 rows of 7 buttons, equally spaced. All others wore a single row of 9 equally spaced buttons.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Further distinctions of rank were indicated with shoulder boards for officers and sleeve chevrons, on non-commissioned officers and enlisted men. On their shoulder boards major generals commanding armies wore 3 stars, the center star being larger than the others. Major generals wore 2 stars; brigadier generals, 1 star; colonels, an eagle; lieutenant colonels, 2 silver embroidered leaves; majors, 2 gold embroidered leaves; captains, 2 groups of 2 gold bars; a 1st lieutenant, a gold bar; and 2nd lieutenants wore boards with no insignia.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Sergeants wore 3 chevrons, corporals 2. Regular enlisted men were distinguished by 1 stripe on the lower sleeve for each 5 years of faithful service. Artillerymen and cavalrymen wore the same badges of rank on waist-length jackets. The different grades and duties of sergeants were distinguished by cloth or worsted devices on chevrons.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Infantry members and general officers wore Jefferson boots, and in cold weather all soldiers wore dark blue overcoats with a short cape extending to the cuff on commissioned officers and mounted troops, and to the elbow on all others. General officers, ordnance officers, and all privates wore plain dark blue trousers, except in the light artillery, where trousers were sky blue. Staff officers wore a gold cord on the outer seam of each leg. Sergeants, ordnance sergeants, and hospital stewards wore a 1 ½-in. stripe down each outer seam; corporals wore a 1/2-in. stripe. The color of the stripe denoted an affiliation with a particular branch of the army: yellow for cavalry, scarlet for artillery, sky blue for infantry, emerald green for mounted riflemen, crimson for ordnance and hospital personnel. Individuals further identified their affiliations with corps badges.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Through the Hardee hat was popular at the outset of the, it was widely replaced in by the kepi. Loose-fitting forage caps, some with the crown thrust far forward, and expansive fatigue blouses were the usual field wear. Cavalrymen and field artillerymen wore knee-high boots on campaign.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Uniform regulations were extensive and also addressed the proper design and wear of buttons, vests, sashes, gloves, cap insignia, spurs, knots, epaulettes, belts, swords, cravats, and neck stocks. Trimming, braiding, and design on many of these items, denoted rank or affiliation. Proper wear and design are detailed in the U.S. Army Regulation.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       Regulation uniforms of U.S. naval officers approximated those of the army. Dark blue, double-breasted frock coats were worn; vests were expected; trousers were white in summer or when sailing in the tropics; caps featured a round, flat crown; and straw boaters were permitted for summer or tropical wear. A fouled anchor insignia was worn on the cap. Epaulettes, appropriate knots, and a cocked hat were to be worn on formal occasions. In ascending rank, the shoulder boards for ensign, master, lieutenant, lieutenant commander, and commander were the same as those for army officers from 2nd lieutenant to lieutenant colonel, except that each from master to commander also featured a silver eagle. A naval captain wore the silver eagle and fouled anchor, a commodore the eagle and a star, and rear and full admirals a fouled anchor and 2 stars. Uniforms of seamen and boswain mates approximated modern naval dress in the ranks; rank insignia was worn on the right sleeve among hands and on the left sleeve for those ranking boswain\\\'s mate and above. Petty officers wore waist length jackets. Seamen and boswains wore black neckerchiefs under a long collar draping down the back and a cloth "square-rig" cap, with a ribbon around the outer headband that draped down the back of the neck; white was worn in summer or on tropical duty.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       U.S. Marine uniforms were approximately the same as those or U.S. Army Regulars, except bandsmen wore brilliant red coats. The shako (discontinued for army artillery and cavalry units), regulation marine headgear in the early war years, was replaced by the kepi. Marines were distinguished by their cap insignia, a bugle with an M in the center.

Weeks, Dick. "Civil War Uniforms of the United States Military ." Shotgun's Home of the American Civil War. 28 Feb 2006. 21 Apr 2009 <http://www.civilwarhome.com/uniformsunion.htm>.


Civil War Uniforms of the United States Military The dress of U.S. infantry volunteers varied greatly at the start of the Civil War and no effort was made to enforce conformity until after the First Battle of Bull Run. In that battle Union troops fought in French Zouave dress, tartan Scots caps and trousers, and cadet-gray outfits matching many Confederate designs. Several Northern prewar militias with strong ethnic rosters adopted military dress styles from their homeland. The Garibaldi Guard of New York City wore an Italian-style uniform featuring a broad flat hat adorned with chicken feathers. A unit made up mostly of French immigrants wore an Algerian campaign uniform. The 79th New York wore kilts on parade. This same variety was found in Confederate States uniforms. Though volunteer units were not forbidden distinctive dress in 1861 and 1862, by mid war field hardships had forced most to abandon their original uniforms and adopt the dress prescribed for U S Regulars. This allowed easier communication in the field since Regular Army uniform regulations made rank and service affiliation recognizable at a distance. Infantry officers and enlisted men wore dark blue frock coats hanging to mid thigh; majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels, and all general officers coats were double-breasted. Those ranking lower wore single breasted frock coats. Major generals coats were distinguished by 9 buttons in each row, the buttons grouped in threes. Brigadier generals wore 8 buttons to a row, grouped by twos. Colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors each wore 2 rows of 7 buttons, equally spaced. All others wore a single row of 9 equally spaced buttons. Further distinctions of rank were indicated with shoulder boards for officers and sleeve chevrons, on non-commissioned officers and enlisted men. On their shoulder boards major generals commanding armies wore 3 stars, the center star being larger than the others. Major generals wore 2 stars; brigadier generals, 1 star; colonels, an eagle; lieutenant colonels, 2 silver embroidered leaves; majors, 2 gold embroidered leaves; captains, 2 groups of 2 gold bars; a 1st lieutenant, a gold bar; and 2nd lieutenants wore boards with no insignia. Sergeants wore 3 chevrons, corporals 2. Regular enlisted men were distinguished by 1 stripe on the lower sleeve for each 5 years of faithful service. Artillerymen and cavalrymen wore the same badges of rank on waist-length jackets. The different grades and duties of sergeants were distinguished by cloth or worsted devices on chevrons. Infantry members and general officers wore Jefferson boots, and in cold weather all soldiers wore dark blue overcoats with a short cape extending to the cuff on commissioned officers and mounted troops, and to the elbow on all others. General officers, ordnance officers, and all privates wore plain dark blue trousers, except in the light artillery, where trousers were sky blue. Staff officers wore a gold cord on the outer seam of each leg. Sergeants, ordnance sergeants, and hospital stewards wore a 1 ½-in. stripe down each outer seam; corporals wore a 1/2-in. stripe. The color of the stripe denoted an affiliation with a particular branch of the army: yellow for cavalry, scarlet for artillery, sky blue for infantry, emerald green for mounted riflemen, crimson for ordnance and hospital personnel. Individuals further identified their affiliations with corps badges. Through the Hardee hat was popular at the outset of the, it was widely replaced in by the kepi. Loose-fitting forage caps, some with the crown thrust far forward, and expansive fatigue blouses were the usual field wear. Cavalrymen and field artillerymen wore knee-high boots on campaign. Uniform regulations were extensive and also addressed the proper design and wear of buttons, vests, sashes, gloves, cap insignia, spurs, knots, epaulettes, belts, swords, cravats, and neck stocks. Trimming, braiding, and design on many of these items, denoted rank or affiliation. Proper wear and design are detailed in the U.S. Army Regulation. Regulation uniforms of U.S. naval officers approximated those of the army. Dark blue, double-breasted frock coats were worn; vests were expected; trousers were white in summer or when sailing in the tropics; caps featured a round, flat crown; and straw boaters were permitted for summer or tropical wear. A fouled anchor insignia was worn on the cap. Epaulettes, appropriate knots, and a cocked hat were to be worn on formal occasions. In ascending rank, the shoulder boards for ensign, master, lieutenant, lieutenant commander, and commander were the same as those for army officers from 2nd lieutenant to lieutenant colonel, except that each from master to commander also featured a silver eagle. A naval captain wore the silver eagle and fouled anchor, a commodore the eagle and a star, and rear and full admirals a fouled anchor and 2 stars. Uniforms of seamen and boswain mates approximated modern naval dress in the ranks; rank insignia was worn on the right sleeve among hands and on the left sleeve for those ranking boswain's mate and above. Petty officers wore waist length jackets. Seamen and boswains wore black neckerchiefs under a long collar draping down the back and a cloth "square-rig" cap, with a ribbon around the outer headband that draped down the back of the neck; white was worn in summer or on tropical duty. U.S. Marine uniforms were approximately the same as those or U.S. Army Regulars, except bandsmen wore brilliant red coats. The shako (discontinued for army artillery and cavalry units), regulation marine headgear in the early war years, was replaced by the kepi. Marines were distinguished by their cap insignia, a bugle with an M in the center.Source: "Historical Times (Illustrated) Encyclopedia of the Civil War" edited by Patricia L. Faust(Found for other group members).-LindsaySummary

== Dog Tags == http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/dogtags.htm - http://www.bpmlegal.com/76NY/dogtag.html The government-issued identification "dog tags", which were routinely issued to all soldiers in the First and Second World Wars, were unknown in the Civil War. Soldiers were concerned that their bodies would not be identified in the aftermath of a battle, so they would often pin a piece of paper bearing their name inside their uniform. Later in the War, various merchants and sutlers (itinerant suppliers who followed the armies, selling directly to the soldiers) began to sell tokens which could be stamped with a soldier's name and unit, and perhaps home town. With a hole drilled on one edge, they could be worn on a lanyard around the soldier's neck or attached to his clothing. During the American Civil War of 1861-1865, some soldiers pinned paper notes with their name and home address to the backs of their coats. Other soldiers stencilled identification on their knapsacks or scratched it in the soft lead backing of the Army belt buckle.

Manufacturers of identification badges recognized a market and began advertising in periodicals. Their pins were usually shaped to suggest a branch of service and engraved with soldier's name and unit. Machine-stamped tags were also made of brass or lead with a hole and usually had (on one side) an eagle or shield and such phrases as "War for the Union" or "Liberty, Union, and Equality." The other side had the soldier's name and unit and sometimes a list of battles in which he had participated.
A New Yorker named John Kennedy wrote to the U.S. Army in 1862, offering to furnish discs for all officers and men in the Federal Army, enclosing a design for the disc. The National Archives now has the letter along with the reply, a summary refusal without explanation. http://www.cadethqcanada.com/dog_tag_history.php

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