21. May, 2017


This blog was requested by Meg Thomann



Uniforms of the American Civil War

 During the years 1860-1865 there were three distinct types of uniform in use by the United States Armed Forces. Styles used were traditional similar to those used in the Napoleonic Wars, a regimental dress such as used during the American Revolutionary War and a specialist dress similar to those worn by Lancers and Hussars or an ethnic dress such as Kilts. With shortages in 1861 the federal government issued a regulation pattern uniform for all state regiments.

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.


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:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Greatcoat: In sky blue, with standing collar and French cuffs and a fixed short cape. Officers could wear this or a dark blue variant.

  • Trousers for all enlisted men and company grade officers were sky blue. NCOs had a vertical stripe in arm of service colours. 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:

  • Headgear: The hat described with trimmings in the arm of service colours. Some units such as marines and mounted artillery retained shakos for ceremonial purposes.

  • Coat: The same described (frock or short shell-jacket) with metallic epaulets resembling scales. Officers wore French-type epaulets and a sash.

  • Greatcoat: As described.

  • Trousers: As described.


    The fatigue uniform consisted of the following:

  • 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.

  • Coat: A cheaply made dark blue sack-coat of a simple and unsophisticated design, having a loose cut, fall collar, and no pockets

  •  Greatcoat: a large sky blue overcoat double-breasted for cavalry, single-breasted for infantry. Both had capes

  • 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.



    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 coloured 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 colour-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 colour 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 over-shirts were often worn as uniforms by volunteer regiments early in the war,

    modelled on the shield-front shirt worn by Victorian fire fighters.

    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.


    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).

    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 centre crease, 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 colour 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

  • Major general

  • Brigadier general

  • Colonel

  • Lieutenant colonel

  • Major

  • Captain

  • First lieutenant

  • Second lieutenant


    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

    The colour of the shoulder strap fields - 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

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

    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

  • Regimental/Company Quartermaster Sergeant

  • Ordnance Sergeant

  • First Sergeant

  • Sergeant

  • Corporal

  • Musician- no insignia

  • Private- no insignia

    Non-commissioned officers

    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.

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

    Division badges were coloured as follows:

  • Red - First Division of Corps

  • White - Second Division of Corps

  • Blue - Third Division of Corps

  • Green - Fourth Division of 6th, 9th and 20th Corps

  • Yellow - Fourth Division of 15th Corps

  • 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.



    Uniforms of the Confederate States military forces


    At the onset of the war the Confederate States Army uniforms were highly varied as the majority were made at home. Between 1861-1862 the quartermaster department issued some uniforms but there were severe shortages.

    The Uniforms of the Confederate States military forces were the uniforms used by the Confederate Army and Navy during the American Civil War, from 1861 to 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 Federal blue uniforms, which were acquired after Confederate forces captured a Federal 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 Union soldiers, or from Union 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.


    The original Confederate uniforms from all branches of the military closely followed the lines of the Union’s uniforms. This was until June 6, 1861, when the Confederate Council issued General Order 9, the new regulations for the Confederate Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery.

    The new uniforms were designed by Nicola Marschall, a German-American artist who also designed the original Confederate flag. He was heavily influenced by the mid-1800s uniforms of the Austrian and French Armies.

    Although the regular Confederate military had a paper strength of 6,000 personnel, the first 100,000 volunteers from all over the South participated in a variety of dress. Many were from state militia outfits, which had their own state-issued uniforms. In the early battles, some Confederate units that wore dark blue uniforms were often mistaken on the field of battle for the enemy. Conversely, many Union units that were originally militia units went to war wearing gray.

    It was not until the depot system was established in early 1862 by the Confederate Quartermaster in Richmond, Virginia, that uniforms were mass-produced and supplied to troops. Until that time, the "commutation system" was in place; this allowed soldiers to have their own uniforms made to the new Confederate States of America regulations and to be reimbursed by the Confederate States government. The allowance for uniforms was $21 per six months.

    Officers always had to buy their own uniforms until March 6, 1864, when General Order 28 was released; this allowed Confederate officers to purchase uniforms from the same sources as the troops, and at cost price.

    Following the Richmond Depot, other depots started up throughout the South to supply their respective regional forces. Major depots were in Columbus, Athens and Atlanta, Georgia for the Army of Tennessee and Houston, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana for the Trans-Mississippi forces. The use of the depot system meant that army-wide uniformity was impossible, as different depots had unique uniforms (Columbus Depot Jackets for instance, had breast pockets, whilst Richmond Depot Jackets did not). This resulted in a varied set of uniforms worn by different Confederate units.

    As the war progressed, the image began to shift from the "ragged rebel" look to a well-uniformed Army in the Eastern and Western theatres. In the last 12 months of fighting, these Confederate forces were well-uniformed, the best they had ever appeared in terms of consistency, wearing clothing made of imported blue-gray cloth, either manufactured locally or bought ready-made under contract from British manufacturers, such as Peter Tait of Limerick, Ireland who became a major supplier of uniforms for the Confederacy.

    Unfortunately, in the department of the Trans-Mississippi, problems with the distribution of the plentiful uniforms made in Houston and Shreveport meant that the South Western forces went without proper uniforms for some part of the war.

    Confederate headgear was to be the chasseur cap, or "kepi", a French military cap. Often broad felt or straw hats or even slouch hats were worn instead. The

    Federal Army style forage cap was also popular. General Stonewall Jackson was famous for wearing the forage cap. Confederate Cavalry troops often wore Hardee hats, much like the Union Cavalry, which was a representative of the additional "flair" associated with the Cavalry troops.


    The use of wool in the uniform meant that the uniforms were not suited to the warm climates that were common in the South. This contributed to many Confederate soldiers suffering from heatstroke on long marches. However, one understanding of the heavy woollen garments is that after the marching during the day time, when the soldiers would rest at night and cool themselves down, the thermal-shock could render some men unable to function the next day. As such, the woollen garments would protect the soldiers from this, and keep them able to keep marching the next day to full-fill their duties. This was also the case with the better equipped U.S. Army. Many Confederate soldiers started the war with frock coats. However, cloth shortages and wartime wear insured that, by 1863, waist-length cadet gray or butternut shell jackets were generally worn by Confederates in the Eastern and Western Theatre. Examples of frock coats being worn by enlisted men can be seen in photographs taken after the battles of Gettysburg, (1863), and Spotsylvania, (1864).

    Gray was not chosen for camouflage, however, it did, at times, provide enough of a mask along tree lines during battle; keeping the line of Infantry hidden long enough to strike effectively. At the time of the American Civil War, the usefulness of camouflage was not generally recognized. Gray was chosen for Confederate uniforms because gray dye could be made relatively cheaply and it was the standard uniform colour of the various State Militias.  The gray uniforms worn by early State volunteers was normally a shade of cadet gray, which is not suitable for combat wear, as it gives away the position of the individual easily from its bright blue-gray tones, and for this reason it was preserved by some men for dress-parade functions. The gray mentioned is dull toned, often varying in colour depending on the region and time during the conflict, resulting in a uniform that could blend in with the tree lines, or hide the men in the field wearing them.

    Generally, the uniform jacket of the Confederate soldier was single breasted, made of gray or brown fabric, with a six to nine button front. The design of the garment featured several variations: a four to six piece body, and one or two piece sleeves, usually with lining, often of a cotton material. The fabric used in these jackets, ranged from the finer kerseys and broadcloths used early in the war, to the cotton/wool blends of jeans, satinette, and cassimere, to name several examples. The exact color of the fabric also ranged from the pre-war bright cadet gray, similar to the fabric used by Virginia Military Institute, or West Point U.S. Military Academy dress uniforms, to the sumac and logwood dyed fabrics, that would eventually fade to the ragged butternut appearance.

    Epaulettes may have been used in the construction of the jacket, as was the case for the Richmond clothing bureau designed jackets, commonly called today, the Richmond Depot types I, II, and III. Belt loops were also in intermittent use, such as the Richmond and the Charleston clothing depots. Trimming on the jackets range from piped or taped collars, cuffs, and front lapel edges, to full facings on the collar and cuffs, commonly in light blue, dark blue, red, or black. Due to the difficulty in obtaining yellow dye ingredients as the war progressed, yellow was infrequently used by the Cavalry Corps throughout the conflict.

    Confederate States Army uniforms

    General officers

    Rank insignias

    On the upright collar of full generals, lieutenant generals, major generals, and brigadier generals three stars were stitched within a wreath, all embroidered in gold colouring. The center star was slightly larger than the other stars. It was not possible to know which grade of general an officer was by his collar insignia. However, major generals and lieutenant generals wore two rows of nine buttons in groups of three down the front of the overcoat, and brigadier generals wore two rows of eight buttons in groups of two. However, Confederate Army Regulations had no distinction between the general officer grades, and had only the insignia for brigadier generals recognized. At least three general officers did not wear the prescribed uniform: Robert E. Lee, who wore the uniform of a colonel, refusing to wear a general's insignia until the Confederate victory; Joseph L. Hogg, who died of a fever; and Benjamin McCulloch.

    Field and company officers

    Rank insignias

    Collar insignias

    Colonels wore three gold stars of the same size on their collar; the same as generals, but without the wreath. While lieutenant colonels wore two stars on their collars, majors wore one star, which was placed in the middle of the collar. Captains had three gold horizontal bars, first lieutenants wore two bars, and second lieutenants wore one bar. However, the Confederate Congress often created new commissions, and did not always standardize rank insignia immediately.

    Sleeve insignias, branch of service colours

    Confederate Army officers indicated their military affiliation with different coloured facing on their coats or jackets. The colours were red for artillery, yellow for cavalry, light blue for infantry, and black for medical. A very distinctive feature of the Confederate officer’s uniforms was the gold braid Austrian knots on their sleeves. More elaborate braiding indicated higher rank and some knots almost reached the shoulder. However, a general order, issued in1862, called for the Austrian knots not to be worn in the field, as this made officers conspicuous to enemy combatants.


    Field Grade officers, and Company Grade officers commonly wore two rows of seven equally spaced buttons each, despite regulations calling for the top two buttons to be spaced at four inches apart, coming closer together at the waist at 3 inches in distance.


    The Confederate trousers were very similar to those of the Union forces. Early on, the trousers were sky blue in colour. They were most often made of wool, and were easily worn during long marches. If trousers did not arrive for the troops the soldiers would have to use their own pants to wear. Regimental and company officers wore the colours of their respective branch on the outer seam of their pants on one and one-quarter inch stripes. Generals wore two and five-eighths inch stripes on each pant leg. While the quartermasters, commissary, and engineer officers wore a single magenta, one and one-quarter inch outer-seam stripe. Non-commissioned officers were to wear on their outer seams a one and one-quarter inch cotton stripe or braid of colours appropriate to their army branch.


    The "French" pattern kepi was the standard issue headgear to all army personnel, with a dark blue band, sides & crown for generals, staff officers, and engineers. Kepis worn by commissioned officers and enlisted personnel had two patterns, specified by regulations in 1861 and 1862, respectively. The first pattern was a coloured band, denoting the branch of service, with the crown and sides to be made of Cadet Gray cloth. The second pattern had a dark blue band for all branches, with the crown and sides coloured according to the branch of service. The branch of service colours were as follows, Red for artillery, yellow for cavalry, and light or sky blue for infantry.

    Army enlisted men

    In the Confederate Army, chevrons were worn by sergeants (three on each sleeve) and corporals (two on each sleeve)

  • Sergeant Major

  • Quartermaster Sergeant

  • Ordnance Sergeant

  • First Sergeant

  • Sergeant

  • Corporal

  • Musician- no insignia

  • Private- no insignia

    Sword and sash

    When in full dress and sometimes also in battle, all ranks above Corporal (i.e. all Sergeants) in non-mounted service branches carried the M1840 NCO Sword (when available) suspending on a leather belt (as did their counterparts in the Union Army, except Hospital Stewards who carried a special Sword Model). Additionally all Confederate States of America Sergeant ranks were permitted worsted waist sashes: red for Artillery and Infantry (and all others Service branches), but yellow for Cavalry.

    (For their counterparts in the Union Army crimson worsted waist sashes for all service branches were only allowed to NCOs above Sergeant (i.e. First Sergeant, Ordnance Sergeant, Hospital Steward, Sergeant Major etc.))


    Army trousers were of similar pattern to the U.S. Army trousers, or civilian designs, depending on the area in which they were made. They were typically a shade of gray or brown, with a variety of medium blues also produced. The individual could also have them trimmed to reflect his militia unit, his Non-commissioned officer status, or as a personal flare, to the ubiquitous service pants. Non-commissioned officers were to wear on their outer seams a one and one-quarter inch cotton stripe or braid of colours appropriate to their army branch.


    There were numerous types of belts produced for the Confederate Military during the Civil War. There were literally dozens of types of buckles used and produced by or for the Confederacy. The buckles ranged from single plates with hooks, to two piece interlocking buckles, to simple roller buckles and countless other variations. Many buckles use plates that bore the state seal or motto of their home states. The vast majority used simple roller buckle plates of the type found on a common dog collar. As the War progressed, more and more men used captured US belt plates, often wearing them upside down.

    Infantry uniforms


    The Confederate Infantry, the largest Corps of the Army, had a large variety of uniforms, and the greater amount of records. The initial Confederate Army uniform consisted of a kepi, double-breasted tunic, trousers, and Jefferson bootees/brogans. The kepi was not specified until the 1862 Regulations, as a sky-blue kepi, reflecting the Infantry Corps, with a dark blue band, and leather visor. The tunic was to be of cadet gray, with two rows of yellow-metal (brass or gold) buttons, 'solid' cuff and collar facings in sky-blue, and lined

    with a lighter gray fabric. The coat was of the same pattern specified as regulation for the field and company officers, as well as for the artillery and cavalry enlisted men.

    These designs for the uniform, however, did not prevail, as the complexity of the uniform proved to be difficult for mass-production. The simpler uniform] turned out to be the regulations dictated by Judah Benjamin. He stated that the uniform should be that of: a gray jacket; a blue, gray, or brown pair of trousers; any slouch hat or cap-type of head cover; and any kind of foot-wear to be worn for Confederate service in mid-1861. His regulations, however, were overruled by the subsequent set of regulations of June 1861, stating the Franco-Austrian styled uniform to be issued and purchased to all corps and by all officers, respectively.

    The guidelines set by Judah Benjamin in 1861 soon became the choice of the clothing depots across the South as the war went into its second year. This easier-to-produce jacket, with the loosened hat and trouser regulations, made it easier to clothe Confederate infantrymen. The typical uniform by the end of 1861 and beginning of 1862 was a slouch hat or kepi, a shell-jacket, and a pair of sky-blue or gray cloth trousers, with brogans.

    Jackets and coats

    The jacket prescribed for infantry use was of the same design for all service men. The design itself depended entirely on the region, time, and the source of fabrics. The Eastern Theater uniform jacket was the Richmond Depot design, with three primary types issued throughout the war. The jacket varied from a cadet gray, piped and trimmed jacket, looking much like a pre-war militia jacket, to the jeans-cloth jacket that was worn out in six months. The materials and uniforms imported from England were also issued to the troops through this facility. The Western and Deep Southern facilities manufactured similar uniforms, being jeans-cloth, dyed with vegetable based grays, that would fade to brown or tan. The typical jackets issued had 5-7 button fronts, with collar and cuff trim that varied from era, region and source, and an outside pocket on occasion.

    The previous styles were the militia uniforms. These consisted of everything from the more sharp-looking jackets and coats, which resembled the French or Northern Infantry uniforms, to the no-flares "battle-shirt", meant for drilling and battles only. The uniform for these militia units varied by each company through a single county or parish, let alone the country itself. The militia uniforms were a menagerie of colors, from cadet gray, dark blue, and hunter green, to reds, buffs and gold tones. The other variety of Confederate States Army uniform jackets and coats is the Zouave. This jacket was meant to be loose-fitting and reflect the French-African Zouave units. There were several units to consist of this uniform, including the "Richmond Zouaves", in the 44th Virginia Infantry Regiment, the "Wheat's Tigers", of the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion, and "Coppen's Zouaves", of Louisiana.


    The buttons worn on the Infantryman's clothing is not as minor a detail as it would sound. The average infantryman may have had his uniform made for him in Richmond, Virginia, however, the man enlisted in Georgia, and is now marching through the former state. In reflection to his loyalties to home, this man, for example, could have adorned his uniform with Georgia State buttons. This would indicate to his fellow soldiers his allegiance to both his state and his military unit. This was common practice during the war for both sides in the conflict.

    The regulation infantry buttons for enlisted men described the button as to have a number on the front to reflect the unit designation; for example, a soldier in the 1st Confederate Infantry Regiment would have a "1" on the buttons of his coat. These buttons are rare or non-existent. However, the officer's regulation button, consisting of the "block I" button, for Infantry, the A for Artillery, was very common amongst soldiers, and replaced the efforts to produce the different, numbered buttons for each regiment in service.

    As before, the uniform buttons could also reflect the state loyalties of an individual. All of the Confederate States made an effort to supply their respective State buttons to their troops. The states that did not join the Confederacy, but had men within its ranks, such as Maryland and Missouri, also made buttons that have turned up on surviving uniforms.

    The confederacy also implemented ready-made supplies of button, consisting of the U.S. Government stockpiles throughout the war. These consisted of the Enlisted men's coat button, (an eagle with the shield of the U.S., with the

     olive branch and arrows held in its talons,) and the officer's buttons, (the same as before, but the shield is replaced by a blank shield, with the respective letter for each branch of service, I for infantry, A for artillery, C for cavalry, and D for dragoons).

    Hats and kepis

    The headgear of the typical Confederate Infantryman was the slouch hat, or the military Kepi. The Kepi is a short fatigue and dress cap that was easy to manufacture for the Army during the war. This type of hat had its drawbacks, however. It provided little weather protection, and was worn out easily after a few months of hard wear. The Infantryman design cap was sky-blue with a dark blue band, but this was rarely seen outside of officer private-purchase caps. More typical would be the plain gray/brown cap, with or without the branch of service trim. There are examples of deep-south made caps that were trimmed in red cotton and wool, and issued to Infantry units, showing that any available clothing was issued to the troops as the war progressed.

    The slouch hat was the preferred choice of many soldiers, including officers. The hat was normally a floppy, wide brimmed, woollen body head-cover, meant to protect the individual from the sun, and inclement weather. It was normally a civilian hat, of brown, gray, or black wool. This simple hat saw widespread use throughout the Confederate Armies, and even with U.S. Army personnel.

     Occasionally, the hat was adorned with insignia of the wearer's preference, and may have been pinned up for the drill in the use of the regular weapon of the time, the Rifled-musket.

    Cavalry uniforms

    The first of the Cavalry uniforms were made by the cavalrymen themselves. By 1862, the Confederate regulations ordered the uniform to become organized, being cadet gray and lined with a thin layer around the sleeve. The pant legs were light blue with a yellow strip rising from the bottom of the leg to the top. Non-commissioned officers of the cavalry wore either regular clothes from home or a variety of different types of uniforms. Yellow was the prescribed branch of service colour, but surviving uniforms show beyond a doubt that the vast majority of cavalrymen who used any branch of service colour, used buff as yellow cloth was virtually non- existent in the Confederacy.


    According to the June 1861 regulations, and later the 1862 and 1863 regulations, enlisted men were to wear a frock coat with the same button pattern as the Company and Field Grade officers.


    A cap copying the French Kepi was the prescribed headgear for all three branches of the land service, adorned with the various branch of service colours, but Confederates preferred the slouch hat as many or more men wore some type of slouch hat than wore the prescribed cap, especially as the War progressed.

    Artillery uniforms


    The first of the Artillery uniforms were a variety of handmade and personally customized uniforms. By 1862, the Confederate uniforms became organized. They became cadet gray and were to be lined with a layer of red around the sleeve. The pant legs were light blue. Even after the uniforms were organized many of the artillerymen wore regular clothes due to the heat and discomfort caused by the regular uniforms.


    In the Confederate Artillery, a normal junior officer had two rows of seven evenly spaced buttons, grouped into pairs, while a senior officer could have as many as eight buttons in two rows.


    The kepi was also standard issue to the artillerymen, they were made red to match that of the rest of their uniforms. During the summer months they were also allowed to wear straw hats because of the heat.

    Confederate States Navy uniforms


    The first of the Navy uniforms were made in dark blue, but with the Southern style of rank insignia for the officers. The 1862 Confederate regulations ordered the uniform to be steel gray and lined with a dark black silk serge. They were also made in medium gray and cadet gray. They were made of wool, and these uniforms were not fit for the heat of the lower decks of a ship.

    Non-commissioned officers wore a variety of uniforms, or even regular clothing.

    Confederate States Navy Sea Officers Insignia


  • Admiral

  • Captain

  • Commander

  • Lieutenant

  • Master

  • Passed Midshipman

  • Midshipman

    According to the dress code of the Confederate Navy, shoulder straps were to be worn differently by each rank.

    Admirals wore a shoulder strap of sky-blue cloth, edged with black, that was four inches long and one inch and three-eighths wide embroidered with gold one-quarter of an inch in width. They had five stars spaced equally, the two on the ends six-tenths of an inch in diameter, and the three intermediate stars six-eighths of an inch in diameter.

    Flag officers wore a shoulder strap of sky-blue cloth, edged with black, that was four inches long and one inch and three-eighths wide embroidered with gold one-quarter of an inch in width. They had four stars spaced equally, the two on the ends six-tenths of an inch in diameter, and the two intermediate stars six-eighths of an inch in diameter.

    Captains wore the same shoulder straps as the flag officers, but with three equally spaced stars, each six-tenths of an inch in diameter.

    Commanders also had the same shoulder straps, but with only two stars.

    Lieutenants had the same shoulder straps, with a single, central, star.

    The shoulder straps worn by masters had the same design, but without any stars.

    Passed midshipmen wore a strip of gold lace four inches in length and a half an inch wide.

    For a midshipman, no shoulder straps were to be worn.


    Confederate Naval Caps were made of steel gray cloth. They were not to be less than three inches and a half, nor more than four inches in height. They were also not to be more than ten, or less than nine inches and a half, at the top, and had a patent leather visor, to be worn by all officers in their service dress.

    For a flag officer, the cap had an anchor in an open wreath of oak leaves, with four stars above the anchor. They were to be embroidered in gold as per pattern.

    For a captain, the same as a flag officer's, except that there were only three stars above the anchor, and the gold band was one and one-half inches wide.

    For a commander it was to be the same as for a captain, except that there were only but two stars.

    For a lieutenant, the same as that of a captain, except there was only one star.

    For a master, the same as for a captain, except that there was no star.

    For a passed midshipman, an anchor without a wreath.

    For a midshipman, no caps were to be worn.

    Confederate States Marine Corps uniforms

    The uniform used by the Confederate States Marine Corps resembled that prescribed for the Confederate Army. However, there is controversy about some of the exact details of the uniform, since the Confederate States Marine Corps was not as large, and many of its records were destroyed. In 1865, right after the war's end, Lloyd J. Beall, commander of the Confederate States Marine Corps had a fire at his home which destroyed most of the Confederate States Marine Corps records. It is clear, however, that the Marines were often equipped out of the stores of whichever garrison was nearest their location. One description has the Marines dressed in frock coats of a particular (and undetermined) shade of gray, and dark blue or black trousers. It appears that Confederate Marines wore forage caps although it is unclear if there was any ornamentation on the cover. Much of the gear worn by the CSMC was imported from Russia, and from Great Britain and its empire, mainly Canada. This created a fairly unusual look.