Civil War Uniforms of the Confederate States Military
Confederate army, navy, and marine uniforms closely resembled those of their Union counterparts. In the early war years a variety of garish militia uniforms were common in each of the Confederacy's armies. One New Orleans militia unit mustered for Confederate service wore Revolutionary War attire on parade. Another New Orleans unit, Wheat's Tigers, adopted the style of the French Zouave uniform. Several other Southern volunteer units wore dark blue outfits and were sometimes mistaken on the battlefield for the enemy. By 1863 all troops in national service were asked to adhere to Article 47 of the Regulations for the Army of the Confederate States. As with United States Uniforms, the frock coat, hanging to mid thigh, was prescribed for all infantry officers and enlisted men, and was to be double breasted and colored cadet gray.
The use of buttons and insignia for identification was not as elaborate as in the Union service. On an upright collar generals, lieutenant generals, major generals, and brigadier generals wore 3 gold stars within a wreath, the center star larger than the others. Colonels wore 3 gold stars of the same size. Lieutenant colonels wore 2 stars on their collars; majors, 1 star; captains, 3 gold horizontal bars; 1st lieutenants, 2 bars; 2d lieutenants, 1 bar. Though various ratings and duties were indicated by cloth, silk, or worsted devices on a sergeants chevrons, all sergeants wore 3 chevrons on their sleeves and corporals wore 2. A brigadier generals coat had 2 rows of 8 buttons, grouped in pairs. All other junior-officer grades wore 2 rows, 7 buttons each, equally spaced. Cavalrymen and artillerists followed the same designations and insignia but wore waist-length jackets.
Army officers indicated their affiliation with colored facing on their coats or jackets: red for artillery, yellow for cavalry light blue for infantry, black for medical. Regimental officers wore these colors on the outer seam of their trousers on I 1/4-in. stripes; generals wore 2 5/8-in, stripes on each leg; adjutant, quartermaster, commissary, and engineer officers wore 1 gold 1 1/4-in. outer-seam stripe. Noncommissioned officers were expected to wear on their outer seams a 1 1/4-in. cotton stripe or braid of colors appropriate to their army branch. Privates wore no stripes or facing, but their trousers and those of non-commissioned and regimental officers were to be sky blue. All others were to wear dark blue trousers.
The ankle-high Jefferson boot was to be supplied to all officers and men. Taller boots were acquired personally. The kepi was also standard issue to all army personnel, with dark blue crowns for generals, staff officers, and engineers; red for artillery officers; yellow for cavalry officers; and light or sky blue for infantry officers. The crowns of all other kepis were to be cadet gray. Overcoats were also cadet gray and designed the same as those in U.S. uniforms.
The proper wear and design of buttons, braids, knots, spurs, gloves, sashes, swords, cravats, and neck stocks are detailed in the Confederate Regulations. Confederate naval and marine uniforms differed little from those of their Union opponents. Cadet gray was the predominant color, and, in the navy, white was accepted for summer or tropical wear.
As with weaponry and food stuffs, the Confederate services were poorly supplied with uniforms. Servicemen actually wore combinations of uniform pieces and items of personal clothing; infantrymen sometimes went without shoes altogether; and broad felt hats were worn as often as kepis. From the middle war years many uniforms were homespun and dyed a yellow-brown with coloring from butternuts, giving rise to the name butternut to refer to Confederate army volunteers. In the main, Confederate service dress regulations were more honored in the breach than in the observance.
Source: "Historical Times (Illustrated) Encyclopedia of the Civil War" edited by Patricia L. Faust
This page last update 02/28/06