Guidelines for the New
Recruit of the 20 SCVI
Ask someone who knows before you buy!
The objective of these guidelines is to assist the new reenactor/member
create the most authentic impression possible. Wherever possible, several
sources are provided for specific items. Prices vary between suppliers or
"sutlers", and as any vet can tell you, there is no one sutler that has the
best quality or price on everything. Most experienced reenactors have
wasted LOTS of money finding out who sells the best quality and most
correct gear. Take an experienced reenactor with you when you visit the
sutlers at an event. When you're mail ordering, consult an old hand before
ordering. Don't forget, a plain, generic impression of the common
Confederate soldier is desired.
Keep in mind that "captured" Federal equipment is not only versatile for
different theaters and time periods of the war, but also very prevalent in
the ranks of the Confederate army during the war. Contemporary
observers note that Federal caps, trousers, ponchos, knapsacks, and
weapons seemed almost as common in the Confederate Army as in the
The total cost of purchasing a complete "kit" is certainly overwhelming.
Reenacting can be expensive. No one expects you to show up at your first
event with everything. Most seasoned reenactors have spent years putting
together their equipment. Even so, the research of uniforms and
equipment is constantly being updated, and the quality of reproduction
gear improving. Unfortunately, most of the very authentic stuff is more
expensive than mediocre products. As stated above, wherever possible,
more than one source is given with this handout for a particular item. It's
likely that as you continue in one of the fastest growing hobbies, you will
replace items, or even purchase more than one uniform. Always
remember the 20th SCVI has A LOT of extra gear that is unit owned so
it’s not necessary to buy everything right away. You have one year to
get your kit completed.
Buy right the first time!
Our advice is to buy right the first time. In other words, don't be tempted
to buy that inexpensive four-button kersey wool sack coat because you are
excited to own your own gear. Nothing is worse than seeing a fresh fish
wearing gear that is INCORRECT because they chose to buy it without
consulting a veteran. We have ALL bought gear we have later regretted
This guide is not an end all or be all of the gear and equipment
the soldiers of both the Union and Confederate Armies used. It is
merely a guide to help you get started in the hobby. You will have
to do more research and ask questions from the veteran
members to get your impression right, BUT the main point is to
ask A LOT of Questions. Even the old guys are still trying to get it
Type II Richmond Depot - color will be gray, or a gray-brown mix,
logwood, sumac and other organic based dyes are preferred. The material
should be jean cloth or satinette. Type II jackets have a nine button front,
belt loops and epaulets. Button holes and top stitching should be hand
stitched. A Type I jacket would also be acceptable.
While frock coats and sack coats appeared and reappeared throughout the
war, by far the most common jacket worn by soldiers in the Army of
Northern Virginia was the jacket classified as the "Richmond Depot" shell
jacket by modern researchers. This jacket appeared in late 1861, and was
issued by the Confederate government to troops from all states serving
with the Army of Northern Virginia. Research has categorized these
jackets into three types, Richmond Type I, II, and III. The Type II made
an appearance in mid '62 and continued to be issued throughout the war.
This jacket was made almost exclusively in jean cloth and satinette. Both
are a wool and cotton blend, and dyed using dyes available in the rural
south, including walnut, sumac, logwood, and other vegetable based dyes.
Pure wool kersey or broadcloth is not correct for this jacket, although it is
cheaper to buy in modern times, this was not the case in 19th century
America. Most of the uniform materiel offered by modern sutlers could
not be produced in the 1860's, or was VERY expensive.
South Carolina troops often had the palmetto state buttons on uniforms.
The central government supplied brass block "I"(infantry) "C" (cavalry)
or "A" (artillery) buttons. Soldiers that wished to purchased state seal
buttons or replaced lost buttons with captured U.S. uniform buttons or
wood buttons. Block "I" or scripted "I" buttons are desirable as they do
not designate any particular state or unit.
We also suggest the Columbus Depot Jacket. It is one of the most popular
jackets being worn by reenactors portraying western Confederate troops
and is based on an original style produced by the confederate
quartermaster depot in Columbus, GA. It is a grey jeans cloth jacket with
indigo blue collar and cuffs.
Richmond I Jacket
Richmond II Jacket
Columbus Depot Jacket
We strongly recommend you get as a 1st pair of pants the Union Sky blue
pattern of 1861. Richmond Depot pants acceptable While there are some
surviving examples of C.S. issue trousers made of pure wool, most are
made of jean cloth. U.S. issue sky-blue kersey trousers were in wide use in
the Confederate army. Be sure and order period braces (suspenders).
The Men of the 1860’s did not wear a belt to hold up their trousers. They wore a
belt to put things on. So in order to keep their pants up they had to have a pair of
braces or suspenders. These at not elastic but made of a fabric and are buttoned to
Leather gear & other accouterments
-Remember that the 20th SCVI were initially supplied with English leather
- Cap pouch should be of the federal issue pattern or the early war
shield pattern both pictured here.
-Cartridge Box with tins & sling (Infantry pattern) Either a U.S. pattern,
or Richmond Arsenal. This box is where you will keep your cartridges.
The 20th requires them to have the tin inserts as well. All infantry soldiers
would carry one on a leather strap. You will need one and it will become a
-Leather belt with wishbone or Georgia frame buckle.
C.S. leather should be blacked, but oiled russet was issued at different
times and is acceptable. Buckles displaying the South Carolina state seal
are pre-war militia buckles, were expensive to produce during the war,
and were uncommon after 1861. The central government arsenal in
Richmond, Virginia frequently issued roller buckles. Forked tongue (wish-
bone) and "Georgia" frame buckles are also appropriate and are a more
authentic choice. English or Enfield accouterments are encouraged,
especially if you carry an Enfield rifle.
A haversack is a cloth bag with a shoulder strap used to carry rations and
small items. U.S. patterns made of tarred canvas, C.S. patterns of plain
canvas, or homemade type versions made of striped pillow ticking or
period carpet bag material.
U.S. issue "smooth side" or "bulls eye" with sky, dark blue, or jean cloth
cover, or C.S. issue tin.
Most wood canteen reproductions available for sale by the sutlers are NOT
correct. Wood canteens also require more care and tend to leak unless they
have a plastic lining. This item is required before you can take the field.
U.S. issue canteens hold the most water and are the most durable. It is
recommended that you purchase the U.S. issue canteen first.
Federal Issue Canteen
Confederate Drum Canteen
Slouch hat, C.S. issue jean cloth kepi or forage cap, or U.S. issue forage
cap A brimmed "slouch" hat is more common than a kepi, especially for a
mid or late war impression. Both are acceptable. As with jackets, the
government soon found that it was easier to make kepis or forage caps in
plain gray, and issue them to all branches. It is recommended that you
purchase a slouch hat from a civil war clothing supplier rather than
attempt to alter a modern hat. We further recommend these hats be black.
Modern or cowboy type hats are very easy to spot on the field and are not
Brogans should be at the top of your list of items to purchase!
U.S., C.S. issue, Jefferson bootees. These should be black. This is one of the
most expensive items to buy when putting together your kit. If at all
possible, try and purchase them at an event so you can get the correct fit.
Marching and drill are hot and uncomfortable enough without adding
shoes that fit poorly. When ordering, send the maker a tracing of your foot
with your period wool sock on, or even a used insole (that isn't too smelly
!!). It is recommended that you have the maker or supplier add the heel
plate at the time of order. This will add years to your shoe heels. A good
pair of shoes will last a long time with a little care.
Enfield 3 band rifle; Springfield rifle (1861 or 1863 model) or Richmond
variation. Having uniform type rifles makes it easier to stack arms! You
will also need a bayonet w/scabbard to fit individual weapon (NOTE: It's
best to purchase the bayonet at the same time you purchase the rifle to
insure proper fit).
Gear to improve your impression
-Poncho or ground cloth (always plan for rain! Strongly recommended) .
These are made of either rubberized cloth or painted cloth. You will really
need one on these rainy days.
There is nothing worse than working hard on your impression and you
pull out a 21th century wallet
A-frame tents or Dog tents (NO WALL TENTS)
The 20thSCVI strongly recommends the Dog Tent or Shelter Half tent .
these where issued in large numbers to the common soldier. They are
made in two pieces that button down the middle. One side would be
issued to an individual soldier and you and your pard would button the
to halves together and spend the night. Many Members do have the
common A-frame tents and they are a bit roomier, but the dog tent is a
lot cheaper and much more correct. Remember it’s only a one or two
night stay in the field.
-Tin cup or coffee boiler (also called a "mucket"). You will need a tin cup
to drink out of or a mucket to cook in. You can also use the mucket for
double duty for drinking and cooking.
-Tin plate and eating utensils you will need one of these for those hearty
meals of salt pork and hardtack.
-Housewife (sewing kit)
-Jack knife The knife of the period was a folding knife with one blade.
These can be had at most sutlers.
-Rolled iron skillet
-Overcoat or Great Coat (U.S., C.S., or civilian)
This maybe the last thing you want to buy. They are great for those winter
event but can be costly. We recommend the Union sky blue infantry Great
You will need a shirt. Everyone wore a shirt of some type under the
uniform jacket. They were a standard pull over shirt with a collar. They
are made or muslin or linen or even wool flannel. There are many
variations on color but you will need to get one with a collar.
Vest or Waist Coat
Vests were not issued but were worn by those who could obtain them. We
recommend a vest of the military pattern if used.
-Pocket Watches- During the period soldiers that could afford it had a
pocket watch. These would be key wound and usually made of silver or of
an alloy. Any type of pocket watch is acceptable but NO Wrist Watches.
-Knapsack or Back Pack (U.S., C.S., or British) You will need something to
put all this stuff in. The Union Army Used a the Double bag pattern and we
recommend you get one of these first. They also used C.S. Made patterns and even
-Blankets- Every soldier had a blanket. These are normally made of wool. The
standard issue Blanket was a gray wool blanket with a black strip on each end. We
recommend you have one for those cold nights.
NOT really required but the underwear of the period worn by the soldiers where a
cotton or flannel drawers. These where of a long pattern extending from the waist to
the ankle and worn under the trousers.
You will need to get a pair or two of Wool Socks. A well made pair will last a season
or two but modern day cotton socks are not allowed.
–Eye Glasses or Spectacles-
For those who wear Glasses you will need to get contacts or period pair of glasses.
NO Modern Glasses. These are easily found at the sutlers and can be fitted with
Glossary of textile terms:
Broadcloth- A twilled woolen cloth with a smooth lustrous face and
Homespun- Any loosely woven woolen or linen garment made with
handspun thread. Most often a plain weave.
Jean Cloth- A twilled fabric, most often used in work garments. "Jean
wool" is made with a cotton warp and a woolen weft or fill, showing
heavy diagonal wool ribbing.
Kersey- A heavy grade of all wool, twill fabric with a pronounced
diagonal pattern. Named for the town in England where it originated,
it was most commonly used in work clothes and uniforms.
Linsey-Woolsey- A variety of homespun popular during pioneer days
and made with a heavy linen or flax warp and wool weft, hence the
name "Linsey" (linen)/ "Woolsey" (woolen).
Satinette- A woolen fill, cotton warp, satin weave cloth, made to look
like all wool broadcloth by having the woolen weft thrown to the
front and the cotton warp hidden on the inner surface.
Twill- A woven textile in which the weft threads pass over one and
under two or more warp threads, resulting in a pattern of diagonal
lines. Most jean cloths are a so-called 2/1 or "two over one" twill.
Warp- The heavier threads in a weave, they extend the length of the
loom. and are crossed by the shuttle or weft.
Weft- The yarn used on the shuttle, which crosses the warp during
weaving. Sometimes referred to as the "fill" or "woof".