Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Generic Western Theater Impression

Many people are under the impression that the Confederacy was always issued the same uniform, you know the one I am referring to, gray frock with the branch of service color on the pointed cuffs and collar, with a matching kepi and trousers with the branch of service color in a stripe sewn to the outer leg. Although this is what Confederate uniform regulations called for, this is not how the soldier of the Confederacy appeared. In some cases, the above statement came in the form of a very early war appearance. However, many volunteers came dressed in whatever they had.

A good program for the living historian to present to the public is somewhat of a fashion show. I like to use a variety of museum quality reproduction items to show the public the difference between a Richmond Depot vs. the North Carolina shell jackets, or show the main difference in all three patterns of the Richmond Depot jacket, comparing them to the different armies of the Confederacy. This is a good visual tool for people. You can break down so many things with just two jackets, comparing the different materials, patterns, and buttons. You can even go so far as to show the variations of the jackets from year to year, as jackets were modified quite frequently to fit need and availability of materials. A program such as this can run you about 20 minutes depending on how much you decide to show.

A little information about this uniform I am wearing: this is a generic western theater impression. This impression could include the Confederate Army in Kentucky, briefly the Army of Southwestern Virginia or the Army of Tennessee to name a few. This uniform is a good example to show students and adults what was worn in other areas of the Confederacy compared to that of the Army of Northern Virginia. As I mentioned this is a good visual tool for program participants.

The jacket is a Columbus Depot issue. It is made from jeans cloth and features the correct blue cuffs and collar. It features five general service eagle buttons. The kepi is made from a cotton mixture of brown on tan warp and features a brown leather bill with two small copper buttons fastening the chinstrap. The trousers are made from jeans cloth and are of a Deep South manufacture pattern.

The equipment consists of a cotton haversack covered in boiled linseed oil used as a water proofing agent. A canteen made from tin and a coverlet for a blanket. The picture on the left has a leather belt with what is called an “egg” brass buckle with the letters CS inscribed on it. The picture on the right has a leather belt with a silver, rectangular buckle with the CSA imprinted on it. Other acceptable belts to wear with this impression would be one of painted canvas or a roller buckle belt. I have a Baton Rouge Arsenal cartridge box with a cap box. I carry the standard the Enfield rifle imported from England.

Keep in mind that with this program, one of the goals is to break the mindset of "the blue and the gray." It was browns and greens and tans too, something that many participants are shocked to find out.

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