Friday, November 19, 2010

The 8th Virginia Infantry Regiment Impression for the Maryland Campaign

The 8th Virginia Infantry Regiment was raised in May of 1861. It participated in the Battle of Manassas and then Ball’s Bluff. By March of 1862, it was ordered to Pickett’s Brigade and participated in the Peninsula Campaign. Fighting in Central Virginia throughout the summer, and by late August, the 8th Virginia Infantry had participated in the Second Battle at Manassas.

By September of 1862, the 8th Virginia Infantry marched into Maryland during the Confederate Invasion of Maryland or what is known as the Maryland Campaign. They engaged at South Mountain on the afternoon of the September 14th. There, on the heights of Turner’s Gap, in an area that is known as Frostown, they fought on the extreme right of General Garnett’s line in a wooded area where boulders dotted the landscape. The Confederates in this area held their ground until night fall when they were ordered to Boonsboro.

The 8th Virginia also participated in the Pennsylvania Campaign of 1863, and by 1864 they took part in the Overland Campaign and the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. On April 6th, at Sayler’s Creek the majority of the regiment was captured or killed, and the survivors were paroled at Appomattox.

This is just one example of a Virginia soldier at South Mountain, and how he may have appeared. Other jackets and uniforms could have been a frock coat, commutation jacket, perhaps a well worn over-shirt or a Richmond Depot jacket made from a higher concentration of wool material such as satinette or cassimere. Some jackets could have had black or blue, and in some cases red trim in the form of wool tape sewn onto the cuffs, collar and the shoulder epaulettes. Another possibility could be civilian clothing that was purchased from some of the towns and cities that the 8th Virginia marched through. This is my impression of a soldier in the 8th Virginia Infantry and what he would have worn during the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

This enlistee is wearing a Richmond Depot jacket with black tape applied to the cuffs, collar and shoulder epaulettes. The jacket also has nine Virginia state seal buttons. The kepi, manufactured at the Richmond Depot, is a militia style that features a black band. His trousers are also manufactured at Richmond Depot. His belt is of plain leather with a Georgia frame buckle. The rifle is a Mississippi Rifle or better known as a Harper’s Ferry rifled musket in 54 cal. Since it is a 54 cal. rifled musket, there is no bayonet. He carried 40 rounds of ammunition in his cartridge box and carries his percussion caps in his cap box. Rations are contained in his black painted haversack and his canteen is made from tin. His blanket and other small personal items are enclosed in his double bag knapsack.

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