Reference Items
Enlistedman's Fatigue Blouse

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General Order #3, of March 24, 1858 initiated a new trend in military garments. Enlisted soldiers could now be issued different garments for fatigue and dress duty. Uniforms then in use, heavily influenced by European tailoring were to be gradually replaced by a uniquely American coat, the enlistedman's fatigue blouse. Known to collectors today as a "four-button sack coat," it was loose fitting in body and sleeve, and better suited to the rigors of campaigning. The process of change over to the sack coat was gradual, and continued through the entire Civil War. By late in the war, all branches of service were issuing this coat as evidenced by period photographs.

In 1861, the four button sack coat was produced for $1.87 per garment. Between the federal government and private contractors, over 5½ million were made during the war years. Approximately one third were unlined. Their flimsy flannel construction, and continued use by soldiers after the war's end have contributed to their scarcity today. Ironically, the most common coat of the war, now is the scarcest and commands the highest prices of any standard issue Federal Civil War garment.

This coat is made of dark blue flannel; it has a machine stitched seam down its back center, rounded cuffs and collar. It measures 29" down the back; the sleeves are 23½" including a 1" sewn cuff. The sleeves are 5¾" at the wrist, 8" at the elbow. Three eagle buttons are absent backmarks, the fourth (at the collar) has raised markings "*Scovill Mfg Co* Waterbury" in a depressed channel. There is no provision for cuff buttons. The body and sleeves are unlined. It bears a sewn interior pocket on the left breast with stitching visible on the front of the garment.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-224

Non-regulation Infantry Officer's Jacket

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Winsor B. French of the 77th New York Infantry wore this unusual jacket. It is tailored in a short length not regulation size for infantry officers. Fourteen large "Eagle I" buttons on the breast and 6 cuff sized buttons are backmarked "SCHOVILL MF'G CO. WATERBURY." The generous sleeves, 9½" at the elbows, and narrowing to 5" at the cuffs are set off by black mohair galloons, five strands in a trefoil pattern. The design is skillfully sewn into place, with no stitching evident, giving the appearance that it is woven into the coat's fabric. The two piece standing collar is lined with dark blue velvet, showing some wear. The functional lapels may be worn open, as illustrated, or fastened closed at the neck.

A remarkable feature of this coat is the Colonel's rank insignia sewn into the shoulders. Each matched insignia is a silver braid Colonel's eagle on a dark blue wool patch, but absent any border. Instead they are an abbreviated shoulder rank insignia, showing only the Colonel's eagle. This is consistent with General Orders 286 of November 22, 1864, which permitted officers to dispense with shoulder straps and wear only their "marks of rank" on the shoulders. Another unusual aspect of the coat is the presence of two 2" tapered bolsters at the back, similar to those sewn into enlisted shell jackets. The coat is lined with a worsted cotton fabric, green and brown twill. Inside the collar is a loop made of the same fabric but backed with white cotton and bearing the original inked inscription, "Lt Col W B French."

French fought with the 77th New York and the Army of the Potomac in 76 actions during the war. He received his colonel's commission in July, 1863. He led the 77th's assault on Marye's Heights above Fredericksburg, and later, as they made a defensive stand with the VI Corps at Cedar Creek, where he commanded his brigade. Wounded twice during the war, French's service ended in 1865 with a Brigadier General's brevet for gallantry as his unit mustered out and returned home to New York.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-221

Corcoran Zouaves Officer's Jacket - Thomas Hickey

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Worn by Captain Thomas Hickey of Company A, 164th New York Infantry, this is an example of a Zouave officer's jacket from the noted "Corcoran Legion." Soldiers of this regiment are pictured on pg. 138, "Echoes of Glory–Arms & Equipment of the Union." In the photograph, two unnamed captains wear coats nearly identical to this pattern.

The sleeves are adorned with an intricately woven captain's trefoil of gold piping. A detailed trefoil also ornaments the back of the jacket at the waist. Matching gold piping trims the collar and edges of the coat. The fabric of the garment is finely woven broadcloth, slightly lighter blue than the typical officer's frock coats of the period. Both sleeves are widely tapered at the elbow, narrowing at the cuff, and nicely gathered at the shoulder seams. The inside lining is green polished cotton; the sleeves are lined with white cotton. An interior pocket is sewn into the left breast. All sixteen matching eagle "I" buttons bear "Scovill Mfg. Co." backmarks. The captain's shoulder straps are on a dark blue field, with dead bullion gold borders, interspersed with bright bullion strands.

Captain Hickey mustered into the Irish 164th New York on August 26, 1862, accepting a commission with company A. He was twenty-four years old, and married with one young daughter. Hickey saw service with the Irish regiment through the early years of the war. In February, 1864 he was granted a furlough home, visiting his young family for 10 days. Three months later, on June 3, 1864 he received five bullet wounds, one of which shattered his right arm, during the second assault on Confederate works at Cold Harbor. Captain Hickey died after surgery at Armory Square Hospital in Washington D.C., his wife Joanna having come down from New York to be with him. She gave birth to their second daughter that November.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-219

Brigadier's Frock Coat - General John Cook

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General John Cook wore this frock coat, after his promotion to Brigadier General in March 1862. Cook is pictured in "General's In Blue" by Ezra J. Warner, wearing what may likely be this same uniform.

The coat exhibits all the characteristics of a Civil War pattern frock, including its comparatively long skirts and broadened sleeves, well gathered at the shoulders. The fabric is indigo blue broadcloth with black velvet facings at the cuffs and collar, both velvet areas showing use at the edges. The coat’s interior has the typical green body lining and white polished cotton sleeve lining. The breast is heavily padded, the pockets in both tails are lined with brown cotton. The original shoulder straps are a large triple border pattern with dark blue velvet field. Each has an applied German silver brigadier's star bordered by bullion wire wraps, with alternating dead bullion and bright bullion strands . Sixteen breast buttons and four skirt buttons are all eagle staff, high convex buttons, backmarked "Extra Quality."

Cook served as Colonel of the 7th Illinois Infantry, then rose to brigade command in the Fall of 1862. At Ft. Donelson, he directed an assault by his regiment on a Tennessee battery of guns, under the view of Ulysses S. Grant. The bold assault won General Grant's praise and a brigadier's star for Cook. A few weeks later, on the morning of April 6, 1862, General Cook was seated in a stateroom with Grant on the steamboat Tigris. While chatting over breakfast, a messenger burst in with news of artillery fire at Pittsburgh Landing. The Battle of Shiloh had begun.

General Cook rose to serve as commander of the Department of Illinois, and survived the war.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-217

Mounted Greatcoat

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Regulations for these coats were established in 1851 and remained unchanged for 20 years. They were issued in large quantities, with the federal government purchasing 1,486,000 greatcoats from federal and private contractors in 1864 alone. The coats were produced in two versions, for mounted and dismounted soldiers, each bearing slightly different characteristics.

Attributes found on the mounted greatcoat, and visible on this example, are a functioning stand-and-fall collar, a double breasted 10-button interior, the longer cape which reaches to the wrists, and the larger 22½” length of the slit at the rear center seam.

This is a size 2 mounted coat and cape, stamped in both sleeves with pairs of ink dots. A smudged maker’s mark exists in one sleeve that appears to be SA for Schuylkill Arsenal. The body lining is the standard coarse weave brown flannel and the sleeves are lined with the standard white cotton. The buttons on the cape and body are all matching federal general service buttons and are all on the original thread. The backmark of the cape buttons are Schovilles & Co. and the body buttons are unmarked. The cape and coat body are a perfect Kersey wool fabric match in texture and color, and have never been apart. This coat appears unissued, but it seems to have been in the inventory of a costume company at one time. Two areas of the lining have small rectangular sections of fabric removed, likely where the costume company’s marks were placed.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-209

Cavalry Major's Jacket

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Unlike enlisted men, Civil War officers were required to provide their own uniforms. The result was a wide variety of design and manufacture of coats that actually appeared in the field. This natty jacket was made for a cavalry officer, the galloon on the sleeve sewn with three strands of fabric into a trefoil, indicating the rank of major. All twelve breast buttons are high convex, two-piece cavalry buttons, with "*D. EVANS & CO.*/ATTLEBORO, MASS” depressed mark backmarks (Tice’s CV215A5). The cuff buttons are "*D.EVANS & CO.* SUPERFINE" depressed mark (Tice’s CV222As1).

The collar is velvet, originally black but now faded to a glossy brown. The body of the coat is a fine weave broadcloth. The inner lining, unlike the tailored frock coats of the day, is a cotton fabric, heavily padded with quilted stitching, and showing field use with wear around the edges of the two interior breast pockets. The sleeve linings are white cotton. The three strand trefoil is a fine woven fabric with each strand individually sewn into place, machine stitched. The rear seam of the coat is 20¾”, the sleeves are 5½” at the cuff, increasing to 9½” at the elbow. Functional lapels may be buttoned below the collar buttons to close the coat, or buttoned at the breast to leave the center of the collar open.

This is a nice example of a privately tailored mounted officer's jacket.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-200

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