One aspect of the hobby that will increase both your knowledge and enjoyment of an event, is tailoring your impression to the specific campaign or timeframe of the Conflict. This allows you to learn more about the material culture as well as giving the public a better vision of the troops of the period.
Command and Staff Officers of the Division have worked together to provide you with guidelines on your impression for the 150th Anniversary Cycle of 1862.
The below are not regulations, but rather suggestions on how the infantryman of the Southern Division can “ Look 1862 ”. By appearing as the Original Boys did, we can properly demonstrate the sacrifices they made for the Cause that was so dear to them.
The Common CS soldier during 1862 traveled light and looked hard. As the campaigns mounted they would have been covered in road dust, cooking grease and looking as hard as Johnny Reb would ever look by the end of the Maryland Campaign. Their clothing and equipment would be coming to the end of its useful life span. The Commutation System was still in effect, though stumbling badly in most cases, and the Central Government Issue system was not fully functional yet. And the common soldier paid for this dearly.
To accurately portray the Common Soldier of the period, you have to take in consideration what unit you are portraying, and at what time in 1862. For example, at McDowell many CS troops were getting supplies from home as well as State Governments, so they would have a civilian-ish look to them, and then if you take in account all the marching, counter marching and battles, they would have been quite worn out by the end of the Valley campaign. By the Seven Days Campaign, many Confederate forces under Lee would still have been in decent shape to start the campaign, as compared to Jackson’s men, but by the time the Southern Forces crossed the Potomac into Maryland all troops were as foul, rotting and destitute as they would ever be.
As the year passed, more Confederate Issue Clothing and gear would be seen with the passing of each campaign and that also was augmented by captured Federal Gear with each victory. So also keep that in mind as commutation and civilian clothing and gear would be the norm in the spring campaigns, as the year progressed more Confederate Issue Items and some Federal items would be more common.
In the Spring Campaigns, troops would have been fairly well equipped to start. Clothing would still be mostly State issue or of a Civilian Flavor.
As a general rule, jackets lasted 5 months in the field, and trousers less than 3 months. This is based upon generalizing the issue records to Southern Troops throughout the War. What makes 1862 unique, is that to start the year many State Governments had shipped large quantities of uniforms and gear to Northern Virginia. For example the State of Alabama had even sent funds to construct a warehouse to store these uniforms in Centerville. One would conclude that prior to the Confederates retreating and burning the huge amount of stores they had accumulated, they would have issued all they could.
So one can assume, and it is an assumption, that many men were wearing new uniforms in March of 1862 as they headed south towards Richmond. And though operating in the field for several months prior to the Seven Days, they would have been close to their source of supply and fairly well clothed and equipped.
With this line of reasoning, then most troops of the Army of Northern Virginia headed into the Seven Days would have been in far better shape than those arriving with the Valley Army in June of 1862.
The following campaign would prove to be very hard on men and gear. Though with each Federal retreat Southerners were able to replace worn out State issue items with captured Federal goods. This does not justify Federal Uniform parts however, as much as Haversacks, Canteens, Blankets, ground cloths and knapsacks.
This was also the first campaign that the Federal forces used the “tent de abri” or shelter tent. And numbers were captured on the Peninsula, however not enough to equip the entire army with them. More often than not Johnny Reb still slept under the stars or in makeshift “shebangs” they created from tent flies or canvas cut from Common (A) tents.
August into September is the time for the worn and torn and terribly dirty impression. Rapid marches first to Cedar Mountain, then Manassas, then across the Potomac wore out what was left of the uniforms and gear the men had started with that Spring. If they were lucky, then men had picked up captured Federal Gear along the way. Trousers with worn seats, or none, covered with cooking grease, and the legs threadbare were common, as well as jackets with elbows worn out, shoulders threadbare from carrying a musket and Knapsack. Shoes worn through, and in some cases barefoot. Hats with tuff's of hair sticking through. If you enjoy being a ragged rebel, Fall, 1862, is the time to go full out.
Many troops were cut off from their source of supply from their home states as the year progressed, and the Central Government started issuing large amounts of clothing in October 1862. But by late August 1862, the Confederate soldier looked, as per one federal account “like clumps of dirt”. The lean ragged set of wolves, able to be smelled before seen, suffering from dysentery from poor rations and in general a sad sight would be the goal for this year. Except the dysentery part guys! There are just certain things I do not need from my hobby.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the clothing a NC or GA Soldier wore during this period, may or may not have differed from that which a VA or TN private wore. The individual states did equip many a regiment, but there is no hard rule that says if you are from South Carolina you would have been wearing a South Carolina Frock Coat. But it is a detail grossly under represented in our hobby. And the 1862 Cycle is the last chance in the 150th to really wear state specific clothing, so if you have it wear it.
So essentially as 1862 progresses, your kit should show more and more wear, tear and dirt. From the quasi Civilian look at McDowell, to a more State issued look at Seven Days, to finally a totally broken down appearance at Sharpsburg.
Toss in a few captured Federal items as we go from campaign to campaign, and all in all you will have a good solid impression for 1862.
Below I have listed items and the recommended versions thereof for 1862. Also I have listed ways in which to “campaign ” an item. As 2012 progresses, adding wear, tear and dirt to an item with each passing event will hopefully help us replicate the Patriot of 1862 as accurately as possible.
There are many choices, and your decision would be based upon what unit you are depicting:
Jean Cloth Kepi with a black or blue band, sometimes rising into a peak at the front. You can see good examples of these in the Confederate Version of Echoes of Glory.
Havelocks were not seen mach past the Spring of 1862.
CS Jean "McDowell" caps
Properly blocked and lined Civilian Hats
Remember, sun faded is preferred, and I have been known to keep a hat either outside or in a window sill to get some of that effect ….also if you work outside, wear it! Sweat stains around the band also add a lot to your impression.
There are several options for this as well. State Issued clothing, such as:
NC Jean "Regimental" Coat
NC Jean Shell Jacket
GA Issue Shell Jacket
South Carolina Issue frock Coat
Richmond Depot I
Alabama State Issue Jacket
Texas Issued Frock
Enlisted Jean Frock
Over shirts (battle shirts)
Civilian Frock or Sack Coats
If all you own is a Richmond Depot II or III style jacket, you can do a "quick fix" and make these jackets appear as Early War by stitching some black or blue tape trim to the collar and/or cuffs and/or epaulets. On many originals I have found, the stitching is very poorly done, so you do not have to be a master tailor to pull it off! Remember there is a general acceptance that the Richmond Depot Pattern Jackets were based off of earlier patterns, with cost cutting measures.
A few dollars in black or blue tape trim, and about ½ an hour, and you now have a jacket that is much more period for this timeframe.
Once again, as the 1862 cycle progresses, your kit should come apart at the seams…literally. Mostly the shoulders of a coat would be sun bleached and worn from carrying a musket, the collar worn and sweat stained, the elbows almost threadbare from reclining on them, sleeves burnt in place from tending a cook fire and buttons certainly not bright and shiny- no need to soak in urine though! Salt Water works fine. I have seen folks who work outside wear their reenacting jackets to cut firewood, rake leaves or any manual task they do outside. I have also seen companies get together and play sports in their uniforms to get them dirty and or stained. I have also seen folks actually bury their clothing outside for a few weeks, then dig them up. I am not actually advocating that one however! But get inventive. It’s actually fun.
As with Coats there are many state variations you could wear. Basic CS or Civilian trousers will suffice,
perhaps you might want to add a black or blue tape stripe to the out side seam of the trousers, as was often
seen in this period.
As with coats, most of the trousers worn during this period would be state issued or commutation pattern. They do not differ greatly from standard Richmond Pattern Foot Trousers, but were often seen with tape trim on the legs, once again black or blue, and were sometimes lined 8 inches up from the bottom, allowing the trouser to fall naturally over a pair of boots. Notice I said over a pair, not tucked in, except for mounted officers.
&160;Trousers is where one can really shine! Think about how your trousers would have been worn through the course of the year …the seat definitely worn, and probably have evidence of cooking by the fire on the upper legs from grease splatter and embers. Most of us have that “ old foul pair” and late in the year they should make an appearance. If you have “ holy” trousers, wear them for September….but be sure to have proper underclothing, or none at all for the truly brave. However do not get arrested.
At this point in the War, CS or Civilian Shoes would prove to be the most common, as the number of Federal Shoes worn by CS troops has been generally highly over estimated. However by Fall 1862, I imagine quite a few soldiers thanked the Federal Quartermaster for their shoes. Shoes lasted maybe a month in hard service, and depending on which campaign we are portraying this upcoming year, having really worn out shoes is correct. Now yes, they were issued new shoes frequently, however all the accounts of barefoot soldiers cannot be all wrong. If you decide to go barefoot, keep in mind, if you do not normally walk around barefoot, it will HURT. And I do not want folks to be miserable at an event, so I discourage folks from doing so, unless their heart is really set on it and their feet are prepared for it.
One other adaptation, that would be just as accurate, but not as painful, is the wearing of two DIFFERENT shoes, one on each foot. We all have had brogans wear out, and mostly one before the other, so perhaps a soldier wearing one CS or Civilian shoe, and one Federal Brogan would not have been that uncommon.
Just plain dirty. Worn and smelling wrong. Your basic civilian shirt works great. A sad fact is that most CS garments fell apart do to ROT, rather than shoddy workmanship. And the rot comes from chemicals your body expels when you sweat…not a nice picture is it?
This is one other area in which you can "appear 1862"
The most common canteen would have been the plain tin drum, with cloth or leather strap. This is an inexpensive purchase, and the whole unit would look "uniform" buy carrying these, as well as common white CS issue Haversacks. As a side note, haversacks were filthy affairs, and the common cloth haversack would be coated with grease from the “heart healthy” food soldiers carried in it. Just think of what your haversack would look like after carrying pre cooked salt pork in it for a few weeks!
The wearing of Militia Pattern Knapsacks, such as the Kibbler Pack in EoG is another way to look 1862. However the good old blanket roll works well in 1862, especially one from a coverlet, carpet piece or civilian blanket. As with shoes, the number of CS troops carrying captured Federal Gear has been exaggerated in many cases early in 1862, however by the end of the year Federal Issue Haversacks, Knapsacks and Canteens would have appeared in greater numbers and in better repair than CS Issued counterparts.
Many troops still had the state and locally issued gear during this year, with State Buckles and Box Plates. However they were more rare now than last year. Common Civilian and issued Buckle Belts were more common as the year progressed, and CS manufactured cap pouches and Cartridge Boxes were common, as well as captured Federal gear as the progressed, though the use of US buckles worn upside down was truly not common.
These differed based upon the unit portrayed, but as a whole, these are the one item that MUST be clean, safe and functional. I have seen many folks carry weapons that sent chills up my spine. Be sure they are clean and in good repair for your safety, and the safety of your file partners. As a general rule, large side knives were stating to become rare, as after hundreds of miles of hard marching, the Boys were getting tired of lugging the things around.
Not only for your impression, but for your health as well, walking a few miles a week whenever you can will help prepare you better for any event. I do not want anyone to be miserable at an event, too tired to enjoy it. Whenever you can, take 30 minutes and take a stroll. It is good for your heart, and good for your mind and impression as well. I have gone down at events before, and it has ruined the event for me, and often my pards as well. We all owe it to ourselves to take some time, slow down and walk whenever we can. I consider you all my friends, and if only for the sake of your health, focus some time on conditioning. Your enjoyment of events will increase.
Have fun with your 1862 impression. Read the accounts of what Johnny Reb suffered through in 1862. Think on how that would affect his appearance and adapt. Embrace Dirt. Have fun with it, realize this is probably the last chance in this Cycle to wear State Specific items.
S. Christian Anders
At this time: Acting Maj’r Gen’l
Authenticity Glorifies the Campaign