Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The North Carolina Infantry Impression at Monterey Pass

After the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate Army was devastated. This was a complete turn around from when they invaded nearly a week and a half before. The majority of the Confederate infantry marched through Monterey Pass during their withdraw from Gettysburg. For us here at the Monterey Pass Battlefield, there is no other impression we like to portray more than that of the average North Carolina soldier, primarily the average soldier from the 53rd North Carolina Infantry. However, since new sources were revealed to me, I now know that there was a North Carolina Battalion that was also engaged at Monterey Pass during the battle that carried over into the wee morning hours of July 5th, 1863.

Michael J. Winey and Thomas M. Arliskas have uncovered a tremendous amount of research regarding the Confederate soldier during the Pennsylvania Campaign. Their books are full of first hand accounts that are footnoted in their respective books. One reason why I like portraying the 53rd North Carolina Infantry is that in Michael Winey’s book, “Confederate Army Uniforms at Gettysburg” there is information on the jacket that was worn by a member of the 53rd North Carolina as well as his forage cap. This soldier’s name is Private Amzi Williamson. We can be certain that his regiment wore a similar jacket and cap that was issued by the state of North Carolina. Private Williamson’s jacket and forage cap can been seen on page 145 of the Time Life set “Echoes of Glory - Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy.” In having original photographs as an example of what this unit would have wore, it helps us to better portray the unit accurately.

There are several other great sources online as well . One site in particular is the North State Rifles, an authentic campaigner organization. Their web site, similar to the CVR blog, walks you through a timeline of the average Confederate soldier from North Carolina with research articles on uniforms that the soldiers of North Carolina would have wore. Between the two sources listed above you now have descriptions and as well as a good visual of the North Carolina solider. The North Carolina impression that we use at Monterey Pass is a very research based impression that I am quite proud of.

During the Pennsylvania Campaign, the North Carolina regiments of Pettigrew’s Brigade were issued new uniforms, while those soldiers of Hoke’s Brigade wore a collection of uniforms that were acquired at Winchester courtesy of Milroy’s Federal garrison retreating from the Winchester area. Many shirts, undergarments and Federal trousers were taken. The North Carolina soldiers from Daniel’s Brigade that the 53rd North Carolina was part of, was from what research shows, wearing their North Carolina issued jackets and uniforms.

Soldiers were often issued what was on hand, on an as needed basis instead of regiments receiving a collection to clothing for all their men. The direct result of this is that not all of the soldiers in the same unit would be wearing identical uniforms. North Carolina also had a depot outlet near the Richmond Depot and it was very successful issuing clothing to not only its own soldiers, but other soldiers from different states as well. With that being said, one cannot rule out the fact that many North Carolina soldiers may have been wearing a collection of clothing articles issued by the Richmond Depot. To add to the appearance from long marches from near Fredericksburg to the Mason-Dixon Line, it can be speculated that their uniforms were showing wear and tear, being exposed to the elements of weather, or deteriorating by the movements of the wearer. So there is a lot to take into consideration while researching the uniform aspects of the North Carolina soldier.

For our uniform standards for the North Carolina soldier, the majority of living historians should be wearing a properly constructed North Carolina shell jacket. There are a few surviving examples out there from the Williamson jacket to the Tucker, and McRea jackets. The jacket is a six button front and in most cases, a four piece body and one piece sleeve. Material should be of satinette, cassimere, or possibly jeans cloth. Buttons can be wooden, generic Federal eagle, flat brass or state seal. Richmond Depot jackets would also be acceptable but only on a small scale. There are in existence, some 4th North Carolina cavalry soldiers whose photographs of the time period show them with Richmond Depot Type II jackets with wooden buttons. Trousers can be of a Richmond or other documented military pattern. Headgear should consist of the forage cap, properly constructed kepi, or slouch hat. Civilian and military issue shirts are acceptable.

As far as equipment, one can wear a variety of styles of belts with brass buckles. Buckles could be of English manufacture, roller style, Georgia frame, fork and tongue, or civilian. Cap and cartridge boxes must be of Confederate manufacture and must match the caliber of your musket. Other equipment should include a blanket roll or knapsack, in addition to Confederate manufactured haversacks and tin canteens. Shoes can be of civilian or military issue.

Resources for the North Carolina Impression:
North State Rifles
Time Life set “Echoes of Glory - Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy”
Confederate Army Uniforms at Gettysburg by Michael Winey
Cadet Grey and Butternut Brown, Notes on Confederate Uniforms by Thomas M. Arliskas

Uniforms of the Civil War by Robin Smith and Ron Field
The 26th North Carolina Research Articles
A Tar Heel Jewish Soldier at Gettysburg
Information on the 1st Battalion North Carolina Sharpshooters - Lee Sherrill

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