PICKING THE CORRECT UNIFORM
made in USA
Updated: October 2013

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tws@shentel.net

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The Winchester Sutler, Inc.
270 Shadow Brook Lane
Winchester, VA. 22603 U.S.A.
The Winchester Sutler, Inc. The Winchester Sutler, Inc Logo
Providing Quality Civil War Reproductions - Since 1972
PHONE:
540 888-3595
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We have been making Civil War Uniforms for more than 36 years. The patterns we use to make our uniforms came from measuring original uniforms in museums. Our coats and pants are made from uniform grade wool with 100% cotton liners.

Needless to say, with all the possible variations, we can provide more than 2,386 different finished coats.
(The web designer is not going to create pictures for them all.)
Below are basic styles.
Clicking on the words will get you to a page with more details
(if the linking page has been made)

We are making the coats... the web designer just has not made the page.

SHIRTS SACK
COATS
U.S.
SHELL JACKET
Single Breasted
C.S.
SHELL JACKET
Single Breasted
* U.S.
FROCK
COAT
Single Breasted
C. S.
FROCK
COAT
Single Breasted
C.S. Frock coat
Vests PANTS U.S.(No Link)
SHELL
JACKET
Double Breasted
C.S.
SHELL JACKET
Double Breasted
U.S.
FROCK
COAT
Double Breasted
C.S.
FROCK
COAT
Double Breasted
GREAT COATS


Picking the Correct Uniform
I could write a 3,000 page book and not cover it all.
The following is a very abbreviated outline to give the new person a little guidance.

Please feel free to call for general uniform guidance.
Do not expect us to tell you EXACTLYwhat John Q Smith of the 3rd Arkansas was wearing on a certain date at a certain battle.
But if you can tell us: WHEN, WHERE and WHAT he was, we will help you make what he probably had.


Before the war, we had the U.S. Army regulation uniform.
(The fact that it was called for in the regulations did not mean that it was issued!)
As today, so was it back then... there were dress uniforms and standard daily use.

Early uniforms - Union Dress Uniforms were for parades, staff meetings, and dancing. They were often double breasted frock coats for officers... single breasted frock coats for lower ranks. The U.S. had both blue and gray uniforms. The gray uniforms were the "secondary uniform."

Early uniforms - Militia. They were not Confederates yet, they were militia units. These were the towns people - (men) who owned guns, and got together once a week and practiced (so they say). In reality, think more like members of a lodge. It was the excuse for the men to get together - away from the women, and do guy things. They styled their uniforms somewhat after the U.S. Government standards, but often used different colors, fabrics, and elaborate trim for parades.

War breaks out- During First Battle of Manassas
The assortment of Militia uniforms is so confusing, you were not sure who to shoot at. During many early war central Virginia engagements, the Confederate Navy - in navy blue frock coats - succeeds in infiltrating the Union troops. (But let us return to the overall picture.)

The U.S. already has their uniforms.
The Militia units already have their uniforms (many in gray because they copied the U.S. secondary uniform standards.)
The U.S. soldiers who are southern sympathizers, who are on base, take off their blue uniform and put on the gray (U.S. secondary) uniforms to leave the base. This was a visual statement that they are out-a-here. (...and more gray is showing up in the hands of Southerners.)

U.S. outposts are over run by Confederates, and the South needs more uniforms for the new recruits. They grab all of the U.S. secondary gray uniforms, and start passing them out.
And this is why the Confederate Army ended up in gray.

After the first winter: U.S. is wearing navy / Confederate are going to gray

The war continues - much longer than anyone expected.
Woolen mills did not step up their production.
Supply lines are cut off by blockades.
Both fabrics and metals are becoming in short supply.
Weaving mills start mixing any color and content they have. Yardage of linen, cotton, and a little wool is being made into uniforms.

The winter of 1862 has soldiers freezing to death in their Lindsey Woolsey cheap uniforms.

Stealing shoes and uniforms off the dead enemy will keep you warm, but might also get you shot when you are mis-identified as the enemy.
England start shipping over their brown surplus uniforms along with the Enfield Rifled Muskets. (Do not believe the myth that Confederates dyed sky blue trousers in a boiling mixture of coffee and walnut shells. Yes it was tried...{we have actually read original hand written correspondence} and the uniforms shrunk to unusable sizes.)
It takes nearly another full year for the North and South to up their production to the level of demand.

1864 the Civil War has become big business.

Woolen mills have stepped up production. Massive uniform and firearms contracts have been written and are being delivered to those who still have working supply lines. Cottage industry has sprung up to fill those orders. Women daily pick up a material "kit" to make a jacket or pair of pants for the soldiers. Most of the uniforms are being produced with no branch colors. The South receives thousands of plain gray coats and pants. (Officer's are privately contracting for new dress uniforms.)Many of the remote troops are thankful for whatever they can lay their hands on.

Like I said - a real abbreviated account of what generally took place.
Where you were, when you are, and what you are doing, provides more guidelines of what you had available.

Branches of the Army:
Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry, Medical, Chaplains, etc...

Artillery - the guys with the cannons & mortars. (Red rank & coat trim)
They came is two basic varieties: Heavy - on foot, Light - mounted on horseback.
The jacket for the mounted artillery troops was most often the shell jacket because longer coats tended to be a real problem for a person fighting from horseback.
The Heavy artillery wore shell jackets, frock coats, and sack coats.
Weapons Issued:
carbines, artillery short sword or, for mounted: light artillery sword

Cavalry - the guys on horses. (Yellow rank & coat trim)
They fought two different ways: Mounted, and Dis-mounted.
They wore shell jackets because they rode horses to get to the fighting action.
Weapons Issued: carbines, cavalry sword
(note: reenactors use a lot of pistols because even the best rehearsed sword play can be dangerous)

Infantry - the common foot soldier. (Sky blue rank and trim)
Union was issued sack coats Confederates start out with whatever they had, but are soon issued sack coats as uniform making becomes a big cottage industry in the south. Often, confederates who had frock coats, cut the skirts off of the coats (creating what are now commonly referred to as round-a-bouts) because diving into ditches and getting back up again was not so easy in a frock coat.
Weapons Issued: musket (2 band, or 3 band - preferred by reenactors) & bayonet

Medical and Chaplains - most often wore black.
Doctors were normally officers having the rank of at least Captain.
As captains - they were often issued infantry officer swords (rarely worn) They also have a tendency not to wear their rank, except on their dress uniforms to fancy functions in town.

We have also made: Militia, Zouave, Marine, Navy, Invalid Corps, & uniforms for Ladies dressed as men

RANK * BUTTONS * SASHES * BELTS/BUCKLES/SWORD BELT RIGS

The Rank on your Civil War Uniform: Are you going to be an officer? Or common enlisted?
(We will not sew rank on your uniform for you)

U.S. & C.S. Rank Non-Commissioned - Enlisted (below Lt.) comes in the form of chevrons which are sewn onto your sleeve. The chevron stripes were each individually sewn on as they were earned. Often some fading was noticeable between the different stripes. If a new uniform was issued, with new rank, the rank was still individual stripes sewn on. We sell the 1/2" wool twill tape in branch color for those of you who are willing to do all of the sewing and get it right.(See Wool & Trim)
For convenience, chevrons now come mounted to wool patches in background colors or gray or navy blue. The stripes them selves come in branch colors for artillery, cavalry, and infantry. Be sure to specify both colors: branch and background.

Please see our Rank page.

U.S. Shoulder Boards - for Commissioned Officers - (We will not sew these on for you.)
Lt. - Col. ranks need to have the correct branch color background.
Generals have black colored backgrounds.

CS Collar Insignia - for Commissioned Officers - (We will not sew these on for you.) Lt. - Col. ranks need to have the correct branch color background.
For Generals we have the gold 5 pointed stars on black colored backgrounds.
(We do not have a good source for the generals gold wreath with "CSA" at this time.)

C.S. Sleeve Gullions - are for Commissioned Officers - (Lt. - General)
(Yes we will sew these on for you. See more information on Rank page.) Normally they did not have a background color.

A note for reenactors - We cannot all be Generals. An officer without troops, has no one to command, looks naked, and is useless on the reenactment field. Rank is earned. Not all people are qualified to lead, and even those with qualifications, may not have the inspiring personality needed to hold a diversified group of people together under adverse conditions. Therefore, I suggest those newcomers to the reenactment field should start as privates. Time and experience will bring promotions. Besides, if you don't know the 1860 Manual of Arms (not the same as modern), you can't teach it to your men. Any person portraying an Ordinance Sergeant needs real gunsmithing talent.

Buttons - we have many to choose from. (We will not sew these on your uniform as their placement is the final step in fitting your coat) See button link below.

Sashes - do not follow the branch color system. (Sashes are in with Rank
Red Wool is for both U.S. and C.S. - Enlisted
Maroon Silk is for Commissioned Officers
Yellow Silk is for Confederate Cavalry
Green Silk is for Doctors
Buff (beige) is for Generals

Belts / Buckles / and Sword Belt Rig information - see the buckle link below

Click on Links below:

Measurement Chart
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Civil War Buckle
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picture civil war reproduction hat
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Updated: October 2013 * ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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