Uniform of the Union Army

The Uniform of the Union Army was widely varied and, due to limitations on supply of wool and other materials, based on availability and cost of materials during the United States Civil War.[1]

Union soldier 1858
A plate showing the uniform of a U.S. Army first sergeant, circa 1858, influenced by the French army


The standard U.S. Army uniform at the outbreak of the war had acquired its definitive form in the 1858 regulations. It consisted of a Campaign Uniform, a Parade (Dress) Uniform, and a Fatigue Uniform.

During the war, enforcement of uniform regulations was imperfect. Uniforms were adapted to local conditions, the commander's preference, and what was available. For example, shoulder straps began replacing epaulets in dress occasions. As a result, almost any variation of the official uniform could be found as officers and men abandoned some items, adopted others and modified still others.

Described in general terms this uniform consisted of:

Service and campaign

The service and campaign uniform consisted of the following:

  1. Headgear: A black felt Hardee hat, the Model 1858 Dress Hat, with one brim being secured by means of a metallic eagle after the U.S. coat of arms of the day. Forage caps were regulation for service and non-dress occasions, while the non-regulation kepi was also widely used.
  2. Coat: In Prussian blue, tight fitting and almost knee length, trimmed in arm of service piping along the collar edges; and in the French-peak styled cuff trim, for all enlisted ranks. Company officers wore an untrimmed single-breasted coat, with shoulder straps to signify rank and branch of service. Cavalry and mounted artillery used a short jacket, which were more practical for riding. Field and general officers wore a double breasted version, with the option for black velvet collar and cuffs. A sack coat was also issued as a fatigue uniform, being lined for recruits, and unlined for a service uniform. Rank insignia was worn on the coat, the same as the dress frock.
  3. Greatcoat: In sky blue, with standing collar and French cuffs and a fixed short cape. Officers could wear this or a dark blue variant.
  4. Trousers for all enlisted men and company grade officers were sky blue. NCOs had a vertical stripe in arm of service colors. General officers, field officers, and officers on higher staffs wore trousers of the same shade of blue as the coat. General officers had their trousers trimmed with double striping in gold, with all other officer grades wearing piping with their respective branch of service..

Parade order

The parade uniform consisted of the following:

  1. Headgear: The hat described with trimmings in the arm of service colors. Some units such as marines and mounted artillery retained shakos for ceremonial purposes.
  2. Coat: The same described (frock or short shell-jacket) with metallic epaulets resembling scales. Officers wore French-type epaulets and a sash.
  3. Greatcoat: As described.
  4. Trousers: As described.


The fatigue uniform consisted of the following:

  1. Headgear: A forage cap with a floppy crown. Officers tended to privately purchase more elaborate versions after the French Army model subsequently known as chasseur caps. Generals wore a variant having a black velvet band. Insignia was pinned on top of the crown or -in officers- in front of the cap.
  2. Coat: A cheaply made dark blue sack-coat of a simple and unsophisticated design, having a loose cut, fall collar, and no pockets.
  3. Greatcoat: A large sky blue overcoat double-breasted for cavalry, single-breasted for infantry. Both had capes
  4. Trousers: Sky blue baggy wool trousers cut with pockets. Officers had dark blue or uniforms tailored to suit individual needs.

In general terms, as the war went on, the service uniform tended to be replaced by the cheaper and more practical fatigue uniform.



Allegheny County Soldiers Memorial - IMG 1545
Rifle green sharpshooter's uniform, with McDowell pattern kepi.
Band of the 10th Veteran Reserve Corps. Washington, D.C. April, 1865
10th Veteran Reserve Corps bandsmen in sky blue jackets April 1865.
Historical re-enactor wearing the shako and gray tailcoat of a West Point cadet. The soldier in the background wears the M1839 peaked cap issued to enlisted US troops before 1858.
  • A rifle green coat was issued to Berdan's Sharpshooters, 1st and 2nd Sharpshooter Regiment as an early form of camouflage. These had black rubber Goodyear buttons that would not reflect the light and give away the sniper's position.
  • Marine bandsmen wore red. Infantry musicians had braid on the front of their uniforms, known as a birdcage, in the same color as the facings.
  • Troops from Ohio or New York were equipped with dark blue shell jackets with shoulder straps and 9 brass buttons down the front and colored tape around edges denoting their branch of service. Depending on the unit, there are variations of this pattern jacket. The Veteran Reserve Corps were issued a similar pattern but in sky blue with navy blue tape. The number of buttons on these jackets varied between 12 and 8. Some had shoulder straps, belt loops and piping while others did not.
  • One of the more unusual shell jackets was worn by the 79th New York. It resembled the doublet worn by the 79th Highlanders in the British Army and was worn with a Glengarry cap, sporran and kilt for full dress or tartan trews and a kepi when on campaign.
  • Buttons featured the US eagle which originally showed on the eagles' shields, letters denoting the soldier's branch of service: I for Infantry, C or D for Cavalry (then known as Dragoons), A for Artillery (and on some earlier uniforms then still in use: R for Rifleman, V for Voltigeur). This was done away with early in the war to cut costs; although officers continued to use such buttons well after the Spanish–American War.
  • Later in the war soldiers of all branches were issued loose-fitting blue sack coats with 4 brass buttons, based on the civilian work jacket, which remained in service during the Indian Wars. However, most of the artillery and cavalry preferred to wear the color-trimmed shell jackets because of their appearance and comfort. By mid-war volunteers were issued a lined version of the sack-coat.
  • Officers had to purchase their own equipment, and thus tended to wear tailor-made uniforms. The frock coat had epaulettes (for dress occasions) and shoulder straps (nicknamed sardine boxes by the men), and was first issued during the Mexican War. These coats were single-breasted for lieutenants and captains and had between seven and nine buttons. It was double-breasted for senior officers and generals, with black velvet facings and buttons placed in orders of twos and threes according to rank.
  • On campaign many officers, including Ulysses S. Grant, wore sack coats, either private purchase or of the type issued to enlisted men with shoulder boards from the frock coat added to show rank.
  • High-ranking mounted officers would sometimes wear double-breasted shell jackets in dark blue. These had the same domed buttons and velvet collar and cuffs as the frock coat.
  • The most common color for the army-issue shirt was gray, followed by navy blue or white. The shirt was made of coarse wool and was a pullover style with 3 buttons. It was often replaced with civilian clothing such as a white linen or plaid flannel shirt sewn by the soldier's family.
  • Bright red overshirts were often worn as uniforms by volunteer regiments early in the war, modeled on the shield-front shirt worn by Victorian firefighters.
  • Overcoats were single-breasted for infantry, double-breasted for cavalry with a rain cape. On campaign this was sometimes replaced with a rubber poncho that doubled as a groundsheet. Officers' greatcoats were made of dark blue wool and had black braid on front and on the cuffs.
  • Depending on region, unit officers' preferences, and other variables; Cadets and the state militas occasionally wore gray.
  • The 7th New York National Guard Regiment, (among others), wore cadet gray tail-coats with matching trousers and dark blue epaulettes with white fringe, and 1830s style shakos, as late as 1861. The fatigue and service uniform of the 7th New York was a single-breasted shell jacket, with a 9-button front, and black cuff flashing and shoulder straps, with piped collar trim; and a cadet gray kepi, with a piped crown and dark blue band. This appearance, with their white dress gloves, gave them the nickname of "Kid Glove", when the 7th New York arrived in Washington City, in 1861.


US Army Cavalry Sergeant 1866 (Bis)
1866 picture of Model showing correct uniform of a Company "A" 1st US Cavalry Sgt wearing Hardee hat
  • The Hardee hat was black, with an eagle badge keeping the left side of the brim pinned up. For parades an eagle feather was added, with brass designating the soldier's regiment, company and branch of service (bugle for infantry, cannons for artillery or sabres for cavalry).[1] Western units like the Iron Brigade preferred the Hardee hat as its wide brim provided protection from the sun and rain. These hats were personalised by the men, usually shaped into civilian styles like the centercrease, which was the precursor of the cowboy hat.
  • Kepis were worn on campaign and for fatigue duty. The design varied from a tight-fitting cap resembling the one adopted by the French in the 1840s to a tall floppy "bummer's cap" described by the troops as resembling a feedbag. The leather peak could be stiff and rectangular or crescent shaped (known as the McDowell pattern). The hat band was sometimes a contrasting color to the normal blue: yellow for cavalry, red for artillery, or green for medics and soldiers belonging to the Irish Brigade. Officers' kepis might have black or gold braid to display their rank. Early in the war kepis were supplied with a waterproof cover. Other troops purchased a "havelock" which, like the contemporary Foreign Legion cap had a neck flap to protect the wearer from the sun. The havelock was made of a grayish-blue cotton mesh and was not liked by the troops, who usually used them to filter tea or coffee. So their issue was discontinued in the later years.
  • Many troops would replace their regulation kepis with civilian hats (normally in black). Popular styles included the slouch hat with either a flat or round top (the latter was issued to the Garibaldi Guard with black feathers added to resemble the Italian bersaglieri hat), pork pie hat, telescope crown hat, flat cap, bowler hat or smoking cap (worn in camp when off-duty)
  • Marines were issued tall leather shakos before the war but in the field these were replaced with kepis (often with the red enamelled brass M badge from the shako added)
  • Early in the war the Mexican War era M1839 forage cap was still in use among some regular soldiers. This peaked cap with a neck flap had officially been replaced by the kepi in 1858, but continued to be issued by quartermasters eager to use up old stock.
  • General officers could also wear for undress order a cocked hat with black ostrich plumes and a black rossette surmounted with the U.S. eagle either metallic or embroidered.


  • These were sky blue with tin buttons. NCOs had a dark blue (infantry), red (artillery) or yellow (cavalry) stripe down the leg. However, junior NCOs which included corporals, wore a French blue stripe down the seam of the trousers.
  • Officers wore navy blue trousers with a black or gold stripe.


  • Jefferson Davis boots were black with the rough side out, with hobnails and heel irons resembling modern-day dress boots. Recent research suggests smooth-side-out boots were equally common for volunteer regiments.
  • Cavalry and artillery were issued calf-high riding boots, originally designed for the drivers of artillery limbers. Some also wore thigh-high trooper boots as protection from the elements and in imitation of European cavalry.
  • Gaiters were issued to regular troops, sharpshooters, zouaves and the Iron Brigade but were quickly discarded as impractical.

The enlisted infantry uniform was completed with a black leather belt and oval buckle with the letters US. Officers, NCOs and cavalry troopers were equipped with a sword belt with a rectangular buckle with eagle motif.

Ranks and insignia

Officer Rank Structure of the Union Army
Lieutenant general[2] Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant
Usa LTG 1861 Union Army major general rank insignia Union Army brigadier general rank insignia Union Army colonel rank insignia Union Army LTC rank insignia Union army maj rank insignia Union army cpt rank insignia Union army 1st lt rank insignia Union 2nd lt rank insignia


General Benjamin Butler Brady-Handy
General Butler wearing uniform with sardine box shoulder bars and gold embroidery on the cuffs.

Rank was displayed on epaulettes (dress occasions) or shoulder straps(field duties): no insignia for a second lieutenant, one gold bar for a first lieutenant, two gold bars for a captain, a gold oak leaf for a major, a silver oak leaf for a lieutenant colonel, a silver eagle for a colonel and one, two or three silver stars for a general, depending on his seniority.[3]

The color of the shoulder strap fields[4] – with trims in gold braid – were as follows:

  • Dark blue: General officers
  • Dark blue: General staff
  • Sky blue: Infantry
  • Yellow: Cavalry
  • Orange: Dragoons
  • Scarlet: Artillery
  • Dark green: Sharpshooters
  • White: Judge advocate
  • Emerald green: Medical corps
  • Crimson: Ordnance
  • Olive green: Pay corps
  • Buff: Aides-De-Camp
  • Buff with white trim: Adjutants
  • Buff with black trim: Engineers
  • Buff with scarlet trim: Inspector
  • Buff with sky blue trim: Quartermaster

Contemporary photographs and a Winslow Homer painting, Playing Old Soldier[5], show staff officers occasionally added their departmental initials within the shoulder straps between the rank insignia. "M.S." for "Medical Staff" appears to have been the most common.[6]

With the exception of slight changes to the representing insignia for the more junior commissioned grades as well as additional color combinations for new career fields, the shoulder strap insignia and color scheme survives largely unchanged in the modern era on the Army Service Uniform.[7]

A Union officer sporting the "Jeff Davis" hat adopted in 1858. Note the eagle motifs.

Individual officers would sometimes add gold braid Austrian knots on their sleeves but this practice was uncommon as it made them easy targets and risked friendly fire as this was the standard insignia for Confederate officers.

Nevertheless, many officers personalised their uniforms. For instance, the "Jeff Davis" hat would be pinned back with eagle badges. Many cavalry officers were adorned with eagles and belts with eagle motifs. The designs were based on the Great Seal of the United States.

Enlisted Rank Structure
Sergeant Major Quartermaster Sergeant Ordnance Sergeant First Sergeant
Confederate States of America Sergeant Major-Infantry Confederate States of America Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant-Artillery Confederate States of America Ordnance Sergeant-Artillery Confederate States of America First Sergeant
Sergeant Corporal Musician Private
Union Army Infantry Sergeant Confederate States of America Corporal-Cavalry no insignia no insignia

Non-commissioned officers

War of the Rebellion Atlas Plate 172
Color plate from the War of the Rebellion Atlas depicting the eagle motif on Union rank insignia.

Ranks were worn as chevrons on the right and left sleeves above the elbow. They were colored according to service branch:

  • Infantry = Blue
  • Artillery = Red
  • Cavalry = Yellow
  • Engineers = Yellow (or Gold)
  • Ordnance = Crimson

Brass shoulder scales were worn on dress uniforms, with different features to signify enlisted ranks. Shoulder scales were not normally worn on service or fatigue uniforms. When in full dress and sometimes also in battle, Sergeants in non-mounted service branches carried the M1840 NCO Sword suspending on a leather belt (except for Hospital Stewards who carried a special sword model). Additionally all ranks above Sergeant (i.e. First Sergeant, Ordnance Sergeant, Hospital Steward, Sergeant Major etc.) wore crimson worsted waist sashes (In the Confederate States Army, all Sergeant ranks wore swords AND worsted waist sashes: red for Artillery and Infantry, yellow for Cavalry).


Corps badges were originally worn by Union soldiers on the top of their army forage cap (kepi), left side of the hat, or over their left breast. The idea is attributed to Gen. Philip Kearny who ordered the men in his sew a two-inch square of red cloth on their hats to avoid confusion on the battlefield. This idea was adopted by Gen. Joseph Hooker after he assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, so any soldier could be identified at a distance, and to increase troop morale and unit pride – the badges became immensely popular with the troops, who put them anywhere they could, and the badges accomplished the objectives they had been created for, and the idea soon spread to other corps and departments.

Gen. Daniel Butterfield the task of designing a distinctive shape of badge for each corps. Butterfield also designed a badge of each division in the corps a different color.

The badges for enlisted men were cut from colored material, while officer's badges were privately made and of a higher quality. Metallic badges were often made by jewelers and were personalized for the user. The badges eventually became part of the army regulations.

Division badges were colored as follows:

  1. Red – First Division of Corps
  2. White – Second Division of Corps
  3. Blue – Third Division of Corps
  4. Green – Fourth Division of 6th, 9th and 20th Corps
  5. Yellow – Fourth Division of 15th Corps
  6. Multicolor – Headquarter or Artillery Elements (certain Corps)

European and civilian influence

The uniform itself was influenced by many things, both officers' and soldiers' coats being originally civilian designs.

Leather neck stocks based on the type issued to the Napoleonic-era British Army were issued to the regular army before the war. These were uncomfortable, especially in hot weather, and were thrown away by the men at the first opportunity to be replaced with cotton neckerchiefs, bandanas or (in the case of officers) neckties or cravats.

The basic cut of the uniform adopted in 1851 was French, as was the forage cap worn by some men, and the frock coat was a French invention. However, some parts of the French uniform were ignored, such as enlisted men wearing epaulettes and collar ornaments.

The army went even further than simply having a French-influenced uniform, with some regiments wearing French Imperial Guard voltigeur uniforms, or many even wearing zouave uniforms, such as the 62nd Pennsylvania Infantry, 63rd Pennsylvania Infantry, New York Fire Zouaves as well as the 18th Massachusetts. These consisted of a short blue jacket with red facings, fez, red or blue pants, a red sash and a blue waistcoat with brass buttons or alternatively a red overshirt.

The late-war sack coat was copied from the fatigue jacket worn by the 19th century Prussian Army.

The Hardee hat was inspired by the headgear of the Danish Army.



Zouave units wore identical uniforms to their French counterparts [1858 painting Zouaves in Fight]

French Light Infantry

The uniforms of the Union were deeply influenced by the French ones of the same era (French Light Infantry, above)

Goslin Zouave, 95th Regt, Pv

Pvt James Thomas from the 95th Pennsylvania in state-issue shell jacket "Goslin Zouave".


Private Francis Brownwell of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry regiment-in Zouave Uniform

Unidentified soldier in Union zouave uniform with bayoneted musket LOC 6987397849

Photograph believed to be Private Alonzo F. Thompson, Company C, 14th Regiment, New York State Militia[8]

Sergt. Thompson, 23rd N.Y. Volunteers - NARA - 529523

Sergt. Thompson, 23rd N.Y. Volunteers

A Union Volunteer LOC cwpb.04764

Usually identified only as a "A Union Volunteer" this picture is of Private Frank C. Filley[9] in the 5th New York State Militia Regiment

Sanford R. Gifford

Corporal Sanford Robinson Gifford 7th New York State Militia Regiment


Garibaldi guard wore slouch hats and blue frock coats with red facings

Unidentified infantry soldier in Union uniform in full marching order with musket, canteen, cartridge box, cup, knife, knapsack, and cap box with initials "W.H.W." LCCN2010650625

Union Infantry Private in full marching order identified only as "W.H.W'.


Soldier of a Union army regiment [Bugle horn on cap] although he has no rank he has a Model 1840 army noncommissioned officers' sword

Private Samuel K Wilson

Private Samuel K. Wilson (1841–1865) of the Sturgis Rifles, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, 1862

John Haag, Co. B, 26th Wis. Volunteer Infantry

Twenty-year-old German immigrant John Haag of Company B, 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment (August 1862)[10]

The Storming of Ft Wagner-lithograph by Kurz and Allison 1890

USCT regiment storming Fort Wagner representative of the 54th Massachusetts infantry-as it shows Colonel Shaw as a fatality

Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and two daughters

African American Union soldier in uniform with family; he has been identified as Sgt. Samuel Smith of the 119th USCT[11]

Chaplain Frock Coat

Black frock coat worn on campaign by the regimental padre

American Civil War Chaplain

Chaplain leading prayers-69th New York Infantry Irish Brigade. Note the use of civilian hats by the men.

PA ind-btyB-haberlin

Regulation artillery musician's uniform with "birdcage" chest piping [identified soldier of Independent Battery 'B' (Artillery), Pennsylvania Volunteers, Private William P. Haberlin, who was killed in action on Dec. 16, 1864, at Nashville, Tennessee.]


Ft Brady Va-Company C 1st CT heavy Artillery. Gun crew wearing the late-war sack coat. The officer's private purchase blue wool jacket is based on a typical civilian style. The soldier with his back to the camera has a pair of riding boots and several of the men wear civilian hats

Custer BG Geo A in velvet ca 1864

Custer's personalized uniform with Austrian knots, yellow piping and a non-regulation red fireman's shirt with a Brigadier-General's star embroidered on the collar points.

Fopo reenacters

Civil War re-enactors wearing shell jackets, kepis and greatcoats

Aa hobnailedboots 01

Replica Jeff Davis boots used by historical reenactor

See also


  1. ^ a b "Generalizations regarding the U. S. Army Uniform of the Civil War". Howardlanham.tripod.com. 2010-05-24. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  2. ^ 1866~ Lieutenant general
  3. ^ "War of the Rebellion Atlas Plate 172". Wikipedia Commons. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  4. ^ Eicher, 35.
  5. ^ Playing Old Soldier
  6. ^ Medical Staff Shoulder Straps
  7. ^ DA PAM 670–1. Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia (PDF). Army Publishing Directorate. 10 April 2014. p. 170. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  8. ^ "[Unidentified soldier in Union zouave uniform with bayoneted musket with initials A.T. on stock]". loc.gov.
  9. ^ Civil war Talk
  10. ^ Chippewa County, Wisconsin Past and Present, Volume II. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913. p. 258.
  11. ^ "Colored (African American) Soldier and Family in Civil War Era Photo Identified". Jubilo! The Emancipation Century.
155th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment

The 155th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment was a Federal infantry regiment that served in the American Civil War in the Army of the Potomac in the Eastern Theater of the conflict.

Recruits from the Pittsburgh area and Allegany County organized at Camp Copeland from September 2–19, 1862 into the 155th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Edward J. Allen served as the first colonel. After initial training and drilling, the regiment moved via train to Washington, D.C. where it joined the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division of the Union Fifth Corps. From there, it went to Sharpsburg, Maryland, after the Battle of Antietam. Their first introduction to battle came on December 13, 1862, at the Battle of Fredericksburg where the color guard suffered heavy casualties in an ill-fated assault.

During its first years, the regiment wore the regulation uniform of the Union Army, but in February 1864 they, along with the 140th New York received a uniform inspired by the French Zouave uniform. Another regiment in the brigade, the 146th New York Volunteer Infantry, had already been issued their Zouave uniform in June 1863. The 140th New York wore a predominately dark blue Zouave uniform with red trim. The 146th New York wore a light blue uniform with red and yellow trim. The 155th Pennsylvania uniform was French blue (not dark blue) with yellow trim that featured very large yellow "tombeaux", a stylized false pocket on the front left and right breasts of the jacket. A red Zouave sash with yellow trim, a red fez with yellow trim with a dark blue tassle attached, completed the uniform. Slight variations in jacket styles can be seen in the unit's regimental history entitled "Under the Maltese Cross" published in 1910.

The 155th Pennsylvania along with the 140th New York and the 146th New York became the "Zouave Brigade" in the Army of the Potomac's Fifth Corps. The brigade would later grow with the addition of the 5th New York Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment, however the 155th would be transferred to another brigade due to a disagreement between the regiment's colonel and the brigade commander.

Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General Alfred L. Pearson, commander of the regiment at the Battle of Lewis's Farm on March 29, 1865, was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 17, 1897, for his actions leading a counterattack which regained lost ground and repulsed the Confederates, driving them back to their original positions.

History of Georgetown University

The history of Georgetown University spans nearly four hundred years, from the early settlement of America to the present day. Georgetown University has grown with both its city, Washington, D.C., and the United States, each of which date their founding to the period from 1788 to 1790. Georgetown's origins are in the establishment of the Maryland colony in the seventeenth-century. Bishop John Carroll established the school at its present location by the Potomac River after the American Revolution allowed for free religious practice.

The role of the Society of Jesus in the school's operation has evolved from that of founders and financiers to faculty and advisers. Their focus on liberal studies and religious pluralism have helped to give the school its identity. Georgetown was also affected by its times, including the American Civil War, which disrupted the growing school and significantly changed its student body. University presidents like Patrick Francis Healy modernized the institution into an active research university with several graduate and undergraduate schools, and oversaw the expansion of educational opportunities on campus, around the city, and abroad.

Iron Brigade

The Iron Brigade, also known as The Black Hats, Black Hat Brigade, Iron Brigade of the West, and originally King's Wisconsin Brigade was an infantry brigade in the Union Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. Although it fought entirely in the Eastern Theater, it was composed of regiments from three Western states that are now within the region of the Midwest. Noted for its strong discipline, its unique uniform appearance and its tenacious fighting ability, the Iron Brigade suffered the highest percentage of casualties of any brigade in the war.

The nickname "Iron Brigade", with its connotation of fighting men with iron dispositions, was applied formally or informally to a number of units in the Civil War and in later conflicts. The Iron Brigade of the West was the unit that received the most lasting publicity in its use of the nickname.

Outline of the American Civil War

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the American Civil War:

American Civil War – civil war in the United States of America that lasted from 1861 to 1865. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy." Led by Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy fought against the United States (the Union), which was supported by all the free states (where slavery had been abolished) and by five slave states that became known as the border states.

Shell jacket

The shell jacket is a garment used as part of a military uniform. It is a short jacket that reaches down to hip level. It was very common in the mid and late 19th century. The jacket was first created in Austria.

The shell jacket was first introduced to European armies toward the end of the 18th Century. Up to then, soldiers, infantry, cavalry and artillery had worn open dress uniform coats with turn-back lapels over either coloured or white sleeved-waistcoats and breeches. The advent of closed uniform coatees, i.e. waist- length jackets with standing collars and tails, buttoned from throat to waist, meant that sleeved waistcoats could not be worn underneath and therefore fell redundant. However, in order to save damage or staining to dress coatees while on fatigue duties, etc., a new, relatively plain coloured waist-length jacket was introduced. The term “shell” jacket is of British origin, appearing during the 1790s, when Light Dragoons adopted a dark blue short jacket with a decorative sleeveless over- jacket, or “shell” on top. Though short-lived, the name stuck and was later to be applied to short, sleeved fatigue jackets from about 1800. Through the British Army adopted coloured shell jackets (red for infantry and heavy cavalry, dark blue for artillery and light cavalry), Foot-Guards and Highland regiments adopted a white shell-jacket, referred to as a sleeved-waistcoat. During the first half of the 19th Century, the British Army wore dress coatees in battle against European or American enemies, but tended to wear shell jackets on colonial campaigns. However, the shell jacket was discontinued by the British in the 1870s (other than by certain cavalry regiments) in favour of a second, plainer skirted tunic. Guards and Highland regiments continued to wear white shell jackets for “walking out” until 1914.

The shell jacket became regulation for the US army in 1833, replacing the Napoleonic-era blue tailcoat. Infantry jackets were sky blue with white piping and silver buttons. Cavalry uniforms were navy blue with orange (later yellow) piping and artillery uniforms were identical but with red piping; they had brass rather than silver buttons. The infantry uniform was worn during the Mexican War until 1851 when it was replaced with the dark blue frock coat with sky blue piping. Trousers with a fly front replaced the older-style flap-front design and kepis and Hardee hats replaced the M1839 Wheel Cap. Cavalry and artillery shell jackets remained in use until after the American Civil War as they were more practical for mounted troops than the long frock (which was briefly introduced in 1851 but rejected).The Confederate States of America adopted the jacket in 1861; the most famous are the Richmond Depot's, RDI, RDII, and RDIII. Columbus Depot, Department of Alabama, and Atlanta Depot also were common famous suppliers. See uniforms of the Confederate States military forces for more information.

During World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower popularised a waist-length jacket based on British Battle Dress. This was known as an Ike Jacket and after the war was adopted as a uniform by many US police forces. Blue denim versions became popular among urban workers, cowboys, truck drivers and teenagers. Today these jackets (often with patches, studs and badges added) are popular among bikers, greasers, metalheads and punks. In addition it plays a minor role in mainstream European fashion.

Uniforms of the Confederate States Armed Forces

Each branch of the Confederate States armed forces had their own service dress and fatigue uniforms and regulations regarding them during the American Civil War, which lasted from April 12, 1861 until May 1865.

The uniform initially varied greatly due to a variety of reasons, such as location, limitations on the supply of cloth and other materials, State regulations that were different from the standard regulations, and the cost of materials during the war. Texas units, for example, had access to massive stocks of U.S. blue uniforms, which were acquired after Confederate forces captured a U.S. supply depot in San Antonio in 1861. These were worn as late as 1863. Early on, servicemen sometimes wore combinations of uniform pieces, making do with what they could get from captured United States Army soldiers, or from U.S. and Confederate dead, or just wear civilian clothing. There are some controversies about some of the exact details of a few of the uniforms, since some of the records were lost or destroyed after the Civil War ended.

Union Army

During the American Civil War, the Union Army referred to the United States Army, the land force that fought to preserve the Union of the collective states. Also known as the Federal Army, it proved essential to the preservation of the United States as a working, viable republic.

The Union Army was made up of the permanent regular army of the United States, but further fortified, augmented, and strengthened by the many temporary units of dedicated volunteers as well as including those who were drafted in to service as conscripts. To this end, the Union Army fought and ultimately triumphed over the efforts of the Confederate States Army in the American Civil War.

Over the course of the war, 2,128,948 men enlisted in the Union Army, including 178,895 colored troops; 25% of the white men who served were foreign-born. Of these soldiers, 596,670 were killed, wounded or went missing. The initial call-up was for just three months, after which many of these men chose to reenlist for an additional three years.


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