Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1861 Confed. infantry
Subject: 'Johnny Rebel' volunteer infantryman
Culture: Southern white American
Setting: American Civil War, Confederate states 1861-1865

Context (Event Photos, Period Sources)

* Field 2013 p12
​"The first infantry to eventually form part of the Confederate Army consisted of volunteers from the militia and independent volunteer companies of South Carolina, who enlisted for 12 months' state service in response to the call issued by Governor Francis Pickens on December 17, 1860.  Similar movements were begun in the lower South states of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, and on February 28, 1861, these troops were accepted into the Confederate Provisional Army, within which they completed that period of service, thus creating an army of 100,000 men.  Established by Act of Confederate Congress on March 6, 1861, the Regular Army of the Confederate States of America was intended to consist of 10,600 men, but never achieved that level.  Hence, the bulk of the Confederate fighting force was composed of the infantry of the Provisional Army.
    "When the Civil War began, Confederate President Jefferson Davis called for about 60,000 volunteers for 12 months' service by mid-April 1861.  Following the secession of the Upper South states of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina that year, Congress authorized a 'reserved army corps' of 30,000 men for emergency service as needed.  On February 2, 1862, the President called for 500,000 troops 'for the war.'  On April 16 of the same year Congress approved the Conscription Act, which authorized Davis to draft all white males aged between 18 and 35 years with substitutes permitted.  At the same time the terms of all men already in service were extended to three years.  On February 17, 1864, Congress authorized the establishment of reserve forces for state defense.  These troops were organized at various times thereafter.  Finally, on March 13, 1865, the Confederacy accepted African American slaves as soldiers, who were to be freed if the Southern cause prevailed."


* Field 2013 p18
"As a result of the commutation system established by the Confederate government in February of 1861, volunteers of the Provisional Army were originally to provide their own clothing, for which they would receive $25 every six months.  This was supplemented until at least 1862 by uniform supplies from state government and volunteer aid societies.  Organized in hundreds of Southern towns and hamlets by local womenfolk, the latter raised funds, bought materials, and made coats, jackets, pants, and shirts for infantry in the front line.  Although gray predominated, uniforms of many other colors were worn.  With the establishment of the first Quartermaster Clothing Bureau in Richmond, Virginia, during the fall of 1861, some volunteers began to receive quartermaster-issue uniforms consisting of gray 'roundabouts,' or jackets,' and gray or sky-blue pants, with gray caps, or hats of various hues.  By the beginning of 1863, most Confederate volunteer infantry within supply range of a C.S. clothing depot were in receipt of this type of uniform."

* Jensen 1996 p7
"When the war began, some of the older volunteer companies were already uniformed in resplendent outfits.  These uniforms were typical of American volunteer militia in general, and had no particular regional style.  In the late 1850s, many units had adopted a version of the U.S. Regular Army dress in response to state laws which prescribed such a uniform.  Other organizations had uniforms unique to themselves, but often copied from the 7th New York, then the trend-setter in militia garb.  A few units, mainly in the large cities, adopted Zouave dress, but the Zouave movement was never as popular in the South as in the North.  None of these uniforms lasted in active service more than a few months.
    "The new volunteer companies tended to adopt either gray or blue frock coats or jackets, although a significant number of companies entered the war in variously trimmed overshirts, and without coats.  A few states actually issued uniforms to their troops.  North Carolina supplied a loose sack coat with a six-button front and sewed-down shoulder straps in the branch color, gray trousers, and a gray felt hat.  Georgia supplied gray frock coats, and both states adopted black, rather than sky-blue, as the infantry color.  Mississippi developed a modified rank system, prescribed frock coats with herringbone trim on the front, and designated red as the infantry color.  However, while it prescribed uniforms, Mississippi actually issued only buttons.  Mississippi troops either followed or ignored the state regulations and when they were followed, there was considerable variation in interpretation.
    "By summer 1861, reports were coming into Richmond of ragged Confederates in the field.  Many volunteers had worn uniforms of substandard goods, which quickly wore out.  Now, hundreds of miles from home, they had no easy way to replenish the supply, and in many areas of the South, the Confederate quartermaster's department began to issue clothing to volunteers in need."


* Field 2013 p18
"In its early stages the Confederacy had great trouble with the endless variety of arms and calibers in use by its forces, with scarcely 10 percent of its long arms being the .58-caliber rife-musket at that time the regulation weapon for U.S. infantry.  By mid-1863 the commonest arms in General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia were the .577-caliber and .58-caliber rifle-muskets including the U.S. Model 1861; the Richmond copy of the U.S. Model 1855 musket; and the British Long Enfield (Tower) musket.  Next in importance were smoothbore and a few rifle-muskets of .69 caliber.  Third in importance were the .54-caliber Mississippi and similar rifles.  Later in the war, a limited number of unusual rifles were used by Confederate infantry, including captured Whitworth and Sharps rifles."


* Albaugh 1960 p