TABLE OF CONTENTS:
IV. Personal Items
V. Horse Equipments
These guidelines are meant to be a source of information for anyone desiring to present a more accurate "impression" of a typical Regular Army Federal Cavalry Trooper serving with Companies "A" or "E" of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry – which was attached to the Army of the Potomac in the Eastern Theater of Operations during the American Civil War.
They are also meant to help new members of our group in choosing and buying their uniforms and equipment. The more information a person is armed with up-front regarding what was authentic and accurate, the better-off that person will be in making those decisions. Then, if they choose to make concessions on historical accuracy for whatever reason, it will be an informed decision.
We are not "hardcore" and no one will be excluded
or looked down upon for not being "super-authentic" or having
somewhat less than accurate gear. We are
however proud to present a very good 'impression' and to continually
seek ways to improve it, both individually and as a unit. Our hope is
that all members, including civilians, will try their reasonable best
to maintain, at least, a minimum standard regarding their uniform/clothing,
equipment, general appearance, etc.
It is also understood that the higher the quality and
authenticity of a reproduction item, the more it usually costs. Sometimes
considerably more. No one is expected to purchase museum-quality reproductions
unless they wish to – and in truth, a good impression is as
much about what you wear (or don't wear) and how you wear it, rather
than the cost or number of stitches of an item. When pricing gear
however, keep in mind that quality used 'authentic' gear can often be
found at the price you'd spend on new "sutler row" quality
items. And if one factors-in the costs of replacing inauthentic or poorly
made gear, with more authentic and higher quality items down the road,
they may be better off financially getting the more authentic or better
quality gear right from the start.
For those who already have a complete kit, as a piece
of less than authentic equipment wears out, perhaps consider upgrading
it at that point. You may then find youself in a position to help
a new member just starting out by giving or selling them your older,
less authentic gear.
During the Civil War hair was generally cut short, at the collar or shorter. Despite some exceptions, long hair was a rarity. Especially given the less than sanitary and insect ridden conditions that soldiers faced in the field. For those who wish to go that extra step with their impression, consult period photographs of hairstyles and beards for examples of how they were worn. A common style was for hair to be parted on one or both sides and combed back off the forehead. Beards of many styles and lengths were worn, however many soldiers also went clean-shaven or wore just a mustache. Especially in the field.
Needless to say the historical re-enactor should wear
no modern jewelry (including wristwatches, earrings or visible piercing's).
Hair if dyed should be a natural color. Glasses, if worn, should have
period correct frames (Blockade Runner, Regimental Quartermaster, Focusers.com) But no one is expected to have these when just
starting out). Please, no tinted lenses unless medically necessary. You can often find antique
or reproduction frames quite inexpensively and have prescription lenses
put in them. Contacts are fine, and would actually create a better impression
than glasses, as glasses are quite rarely seen being worn by troops
in the field. If you smoke, please keep modern cigarettes out of view.
A period pipe is best. Cigars are fine, but were an expensive luxury
generally reserved for officers.
Re-enactor Notes: Nothing will ruin an otherwise good
impression faster than improper or inauthentic headgear (with the possible
exception of modern eyeglasses). Your hat is often the first thing many
This is a make or break item for your impression. Don't skimp here. Buy from quality sources and your uniform will be more authentic “from the top down.”
Also called a 'bummer'. Originals were made of finely woven indigo-died dark blue wool (not navy blue, or coarse fuzzy wool), with matching welt around disk and where brim attaches to the cap. With "painted" patent leather (yes, patent leather) brim and chin strap. Plain US regulation small size buttons. Black or brown polished cotton liner. Black or brown leather sweatband (often with cross-hatched pattern stamped into the leather).
The Type I cap has a smaller disk and more rounded bill and seems to appear more frequently than the Type II in original photos of Federal cavalry soldiers. It is considered by some to be an earlier pattern than the Type II, which has a larger disc and more squared-off bill.
Quality Forage Cap Vendors:
Wambaugh, White & Co. (Type I)
Dirty Billy's Hats (#US10 Type I)
Nick Sekela (#0701)
Superior Cap Co. (eBay store, you may have to contact him for a Type I in your size)
Note: C&D Jarnagin makes a passable forage cap, but it does not have the patent brim and chin strap (which really stands out as inauthentic). He does however offer a patent brim and chinstrap option for $60.00 extra, but at that price you actually pay more than one of the quality makers above. Avoid Fall Creek, Blockade Runner, Quartermaster Shop, sutler tents, and other lower end vendors for your forage cap.
Though there were many different styles, it was rare to see hat's resembling "Garth Brooks" stetsons, cowboy hats, or limp hillbilly farmer hats. Stampede strings are inauthentic, however a chinstrap made of period materials is acceptable.
Avoid the wide brimmed black felt Stetson-style "slouch hats" with yellow tasseled hat chords sold by most low-end vendors and event sutlers - often called "Officer's Slouch" or "Cavalry Slouch" hats.
Hat (see next section) turned slouch was a fairly common slouch
hat when and where slouches were worn.
For examples of period slouch hats, click here.
Quality Slouch Hat Vendors:
Tim Bender Hats
Quality Dress Hat Vendors:
Dirty Billy's Hats (#US8)
Avoid the Hardee Hats sold by most low-end and event sutlers. They often do not have the stitching around the brim or other authentic features. Are made of a cheap, fuzzy felt, will fade to a noticibly incorrect brown color, and lose their shape quickly.
• Sack Coat (Federal fatigue blouse) – same as used by infantry.
Originals were made of lightweight (between 6 and
11oz) indigo-died wool flannel with a visible “wale” in the
fabric ( A wale
means you can see the diagonal weave), in a shade between a medium and dark blue color (The blackish “navy”
blue material that fades to purple (not possible with indigo died fabric) and gets “fuzzy” as it
wears is the wrong color, too heavy, and noticeably incorrect even at a distance).
Re-enactor Notes: The fatigue blouse was produced both lined and unlined during the war, with lined versions being far more prevalent. Either is fine, the choice is up to you.
Quality Sack Coat Vendors:
Chris Daley (Lined Fatigue Blouse)
Wambaugh, White & Co. (Contract Blouse)
John Wedeward Sack Coats (J.T. Martin Contract Coat)
Nick Sekela (#0101- J.T. Martin Contract Coat)
Re-enactor Notes: While regulations called for yellow trim for cavalry, the 2nd US was allowed to keep it's orange (dragoon) trimmed jackets until stock ran out. Reports say that many soldiers still had orange trim up until 1863. This poses a slight dilema, as technically, when portraying the 2nd US at early war events, jackets would be trimmed in orange. But since reproductions with orange trim are not readily available, and we are often asked to portray cavalry units other than the 2nd US at events, yellow is our standard and preferred. If you want to have a secondary orange trimmed jacket to portary the 2nd US at early war events, this would fine.
Regulations called for this jacket to be worn with Brass Shoulder Scales, however those quickly disappeared after the start of the war. These are optional, though nice for early war events and dress ceremonies.
Recommended Mounted Services Jacket Vendors:
C&D Jarnagin (#803C)
Nick Sekela (#0301) (Top of the Line)
Note: Due to the limited number of authentic MSJ manufacturers, and the high cost of authentic jackets, C&D Jarnagin is fine.
If possible, do your best to avoid Fall Creek, Blockade Runner, Quartermaster Shop, sutler tents, and other lower end vendors for your MSJ. The wool they use is noticeably incorrect even at a distance.
Re-enactor Notes: Do not buy an infantry or volunteer shell jacket.
Chevrons -- For NCO sack coats or jackets. Yellow worsted or kersey wool tape, or silk (Orange for dragoon impression). 1/2", point down. With or without backing. Strait or curved pattern. No cotton or modern fabrics.
Waistband would be one button closure. Rightside waistband watch pocket. Narrow, three to five button fly. Raised back. Paper-backed tin buttons. Side pockets (slit or "mule ear") that start below the waist-band. Either four (two in front and two in back) or six (four in front and two in back) suspender buttons. All detail work, especially buttonholes, were finished by hand.
Unlike Hollywood's image of tight fitting cavalry pants, Civil War trousers were made to be full-legged and loose, with a high waist intended to come to the navel (and not sit on the hips like modern blue jeans).
From 1858 until December of 1861, regulations called for trowsers [sic] to be made of Dark Blue wool kersey. research shows these were often still being issued and worn at least through 1862. Dark blue trousers are optional, but would be appropriate for 1862 or earlier events.
Regulations called for the trousers to be worn over the boots, not tucked into them. Regular U.S. cavalry regiments appears to have enforced this rule, whereas volunteer units were much more relaxed, especially in the field.
Quality Trouser Vendors:
Nick Sekela (#0502) (Top of the line)
C&D Jarnagin (#808, add sidepockets, watch pocket, and hem with boot strap buttons)
Note: C&D Jarnagin makes decent mounted trousers, however once you add the needed options the price rises close to Stony Brook's, which are far superior. If possible, avoid Fall Creek, Blockade Runner, Quartermaster Shop, sutler tents, and other lower end vendors for your trousers.
Trouser stripes (optional) -- For NCOs. Yellow worsted wool (Orange for dragoon impression) running down and over the outer seam. 1/2" stripe for Corporals, 1-1/2" Stripe for Sgts. No cotton or modern fabrics.
• U.S. Army Issue Shirt - Made of undyed off-white or cream colored domet or canton flannel (wool-cotton mix) -- or gray colored (various shades of gray to blue-gray) wool or wool flannel.
The proper shirt will have a square cut body with split side seams, shoulder reinforcement, underarm gussets, a small square-cut falling collar, hand sewn button holes and felled seams. Domet flannel shirts had a split front with single button closure at the collar and a single button at each cuff. The gray wool/wool flannel shirt had two or three buttons on a placket front and one button on each cuff. Cardboard-backed tin buttons.
Re-enactor Notes: Government issue shirts during the war were NOT made of muslin (as sold by many sutlers). This shirt was issued in very, very high numbers and is underrepresented in the hobby. However this is somewhat understanable. If made true to the originals, Domet Flannel shirts will be rough and scratchy and a Bottom Shirt (undershirt) may need to be worn with it.
Further reading: Federal Issue Shirts by Chris Sullivan
• Bottom Shirt (Undershirt) - Optional. Collarless with wide neck opening and centered or off-centered front slit or placket with one to four buttons. Three-quarter or full-length length button-less sleeves. Natural or solid colored cotton, linen, silk, or canton or wool flannel. Hand- or machine-sewn, or combination of both. Summer to winter weights. Knit bottom shirts were also found.
Re-enactor Notes: Bottom Shirts are optional but are nice if wearing a Federal issue domet flannel shirt, or you wish to have an extra layer of warmth.
Quality Bottom Shirt Vendors::
Morris & Company
Quality Socks Vendors:
Other vendors include:
Fall Creek or any retail store or vendor that sells ragg wool socks
Braces of this era were of
the "X" type arrangement which crossed in the back (and were found either sewn or not sewn together in the back). Buttoned to the trousers using 4 or 6 buttons. Period
photos show a large variety of choices, as well as men not wearing suspenders
at all. A period correct civilian belt simply wrapped around the waist in lieu of suspenders, is a fine alternative.
Quality Braces Vendors:
Nick Sekela (#0910 elasticized, or others, see the accoutrements section)
Note: Nick Sekela also offers period correct elasticized braces "ends" for giving non elastic suspenders some stretch.
River Junction Trade Co. (A non-elastic suspender but with a correct pattern at a low price.)
Re-enactor Notes: Regular cavalry troopers were required per regulations to wear their trousers unbloused (over their boots). Although, depending on the Commanding Officer this rule was often ignored in the field. For dress formations and inspections soldiers would be required to follow this regulation. Our group does not enforce this rule, but for anyone interested in historical accuracy, this information is for you.
Reproduction footware comes in a variety of qualities and prices. In this case, the degree of comfort and satisfaction is very closely related to quality and price.
Quality "Brogans" Vendors:
Quality "Artillery Boot" Vendors:
Fancy officer type boots with the grain (smooth)
side out were expensive and rarely worn by the average trooper, as were
boots w/ 2-piece vamps (fronts) as sold by most sutlers. Large over the knee "cavalier" boots were very rare, and "pirate boots" with large flaps are simply not accurate.
Unless you are attending a winter event, a wool blanket thrown over the shoulders generally works fine for those chilly fall mornings.
Only purchase an overcoat if you have already purchased the essential items of your kit and/or you have nothing to upgrade. For instance, If you have a less than authentic forage cap and sack coat (or any thing else), it would be better to upgade those to high quality before buying an overcoat.
Do not buy an overcoat with a cape lined in yellow as these are are post war.
Vests (waistcoats) were not an issued item however they were very popular with the troops. If worn the soldier would have supplied his own. Any period correct military or civilian style is acceptable. With either a shawl or stand-up notched collar. Vests should be made from wool, linen or silk, and should have correct buttons of metal, mother of pearl, glass or hard rubber.
Unlike the Volunteers, the Regulars were issued Stable Frocks to be worn for Stable Call. It appears that per 1861 orders they were expected to wear them, at least early-war. However, as of now, there is no one who makes a reproduction.
The only information I have about their construction comes from the Quartermaster Manual: 3-1/2 yards of 7/8 cotton of pure linen drilling, weighing 6 ounces to the yard, 4 metal suspender buttons, 5 1/2 skeins of No. 30 W.B. linen thread, all seams to be felled.
The 1866 Quartermaster Photos have a picture of one that can be viewed by clicking HERE.
White cotton gloves are part of the dress uniform. You can pick these up at any military supply store. Be mindful to avoid gloves with snaps, elastic and other modernisms.
Ideally all leather accoutrements should be hand
sewn with “kit finish” waxed linen thread. Avoid bright
white or synthetic thread. Leather should be dyed on the outer side
only. Avoid a 'makers mark' unless you know it is period correct for that item and date. Also note that while "sutler row" Pakistani or other imported leather gear may pass the visual test and be acceptable, the leather is generally very cheap, heavy and stiff, the patterns often incorrect, The stitching machine sewn, and they often fall apart quickly.
Note: The majority of photos of Regular Federal Cavalry show the troopers with the shoulder straps removed from their saber belts. If your belt will stay up without it you are encouraged to remove it.
Do not buy a saber belt that has the saber straps and/or shoulder straps attached by a unsecured loop of leather. This is not authentic.
Quality Saber Belt Vendors:
Duvall Leather Works Early war waxed leather or blackened buff w/ early war belt plate recommended. (top of the line)
Jarnagin (#231A) Early war waxed leather or blackened buff w/ early war belt plate recommended.
Cap Pouch can be worn on either side of saber belt buckle.
Quality Cap Pouch Vendors:
Missouri Boot & Shoe (M1850 Standard or Shield front)
Duvall Leather Works (Top of the line)
Jarnagin (M1850 Standard or Shield front)
Early war pattern recommended for greatest range of events.
Quality Holster Vendors:
E.J. Thomas (Top of the Line) .44, Colt Only
Duvall Leather Works (Top of the line) .44, Fits both Colt or Remington
Jarnagin (#EL280) Note: for the price I would recommend going with one of the above. They each have the two rows of stitching and 3 rivets holding the belt loop secure, where Jarnagin only has one row of stitching and two rivets. Specify Colt or Remington.
Quality Pistol Box Vendors:
Duvall Leather Works (Top of the line)
• "Sharps" box - with two tins incorporating soldered tin tubes in the tops to hold carbine rounds, and spaces for two extra packs of ammunition. Black leather dyed one side
only - smooth side out. With belt loops and sling buckles (per 1857 regulations). Similar to infantry box and designed to be used with small sized US cartridge box plate on flap (though surviving boxes are generally found without box plate).
• U.S. issue. M1860 "Universal" box with wood block drilled for Sharps rounds. With belt loops and sling buckles (per 1857 regulations).--
Quality Carbine Box Vendors:
Duvall Leather Works He makes a Sharps box but you will need to contact him as it's a special order. Note: he plans to add this to his catalog as a regular item mid 2011.
Jarnagin (#207) 1860 "universal" box.
Jarnagin also makes a late/post war Sharps Carbine Box (#208) to be used with metallic cartridges. However this would not be approriate for Civil War events. He also makes a Sharps Rifle box, but this is inappropriate as it does not conform to the regulations of a box to be able to be carried on both belt or with sling.
Quality carbine Sling Vendors:
Duvall Leather Works (Waxed or Bridle leather) Top of the line. Does not include snap swivel.
Jarnagin (#EL2706 Waxed leather or #2706 black bridle leather) Does not include snap swivel.
Jarnagin Snap Swivel (#2707)
G. Haversack - U.S. issue. The Federal issue haversacks of the Civil War measured around 12" x 12" with a bottom gusset of 3-1/2 inches (though dimensions could vary) and were made of light cotton drilling or canvas which was "tarred" or painted with a combination of lamp black and linseed oil which gave them a shiny black, water resistant finish. The bag is closed with a leather strap and black buckle (not stainless or nickle). The leather straps can be sewn only, or sewn and/or riveted. Light cotton ration bag inside, attached with paperbacked tin buttons.
As the role of the haversack is to carry food and utinsels, which were very greasy and messy, it is not accurate to use the haversack to carry personal items (even though some sutlers have inappropriately termed such items as “haversack stuffers". Personal effects would get rolled up in the blanket, or placed in pockets or saddle bags.
Haversacks are not worn for dress ceremonies or parades. And as they are normally carried on the horse, are optional on the battlefield for dismounted troopers.
Reproduction haversack straps are often made overly long and may need to be shortend for comfort and authenticity. They were usually worn at the waist.
Quality Haversack Vendors:
Re-enactor Notes: some members use stainless steel instead of tin even though stainless steel did not exist during the Civil War. If your stainless "tinware" passes for tin and is of a correct pattern, it's acceptable, but note that tin will last just fine if you take care of it. Also understand that stainless steel mess equipment may not be allowed at some events.
Porcelain enamelware, also known as speckleware or graniteware,was not introduced into the U.S. until the 1870s and is entirely incorrect for both military and civilian impressions of the Civil War era.
Make sure your tinware is made with lead-free solder.
Quality Mess Equipment Vendors:
I. Canteen - M1858 "smoothside" preferred (early war and on) or “bullseye” variant (mid to late war only). Originals were made of hot dipped tin with a pewter or tin spout. Covered with brownish or grayish wool jeancloth, or satinette. Dark and light blue wool covers were produced but were far less common (and are grossly over-represented in the hobby).
Strap of ¾-inch wide white cotton drilling, or undyed oiled-russet ½-inch wide leather strap with iron roller buckle and leather safe (Leather canteen straps should be avoided when used for impressions after summer of 1863).
Those short leather "cavalry slings" with a snap hook as sold by some sutlers are innacurate.
Cork stopper was generally tied to the canteen with hemp cord or jute twine. Chains were also used, but only on canteens issued by the New York Depot, which had a hole drilled in a strap keeper for the chain to be attached -- if there is no chain hole in the strap keeper, twine should be used.
Though exceptions did occure, if a Bullseye pattern canteen is used, it should not have a chain, a hole in the strap keeper for a chain, or a leather strap.
called for the canteen to be worn on the person, and not attached to
The canteen strap is made for the largest quintile. For comfortable and authentic wear, straps may have to be shortened and the canteen worn at the belt line.
Recommended Canteen Vendors:
Blockade Runner (#8903 Smoothside with Grey Jean Wool Cover)
Regimental Quartermaster (Jeancloth recovering kit)
Recommended Poncho Vendors:
Note: I originally purchased a Fall Creek Poncho and it started to fall apart after the 1st event. I had to re-glue most of the seams with contact cement. Also. the grommets are too large and the material too heavy.
Note: The Civil War Cavalryman was trained to fight with his carbine
from both horse and foot.
Re-enactors Notes: Technically, anyone reenacting 1861 to mid-1863 should have a patchbox on their Sharps. After that it may or may not have had one. Our group allows both. If you have the choice however, I suggest buying one with a patchbox because it was found throughout the war, but if you find a good deal on one without, I wouldn't pass it up just because of that.
Smith Carbine. A few Smith Carbines did show up in one quarter of Co E's quarterly ordinance reports but were gone by the next. The Sharps was the carbine of the 2nd US during the Civil War.
Re-enactor Notes: Other types of carbines (such as the Spencer Repeating Carbine, Maynard Carbine, etc) existed before and during the war, and some of our members may decide to carry them – This is fine as long as it's allowed per event standards, and approved by the commanding NCO or Officer. However it should be noted for historical accuracy that for the Companies we portray, ordnance reports from the fourth quarter of 1862 onward do not show anything other than Sharp's ever being used (with the exception of those few Smith's in one quarter for Co. E).
Any "non-issued" weapon will need to be approved.
Recommended Sharp's Carbine Vendors:
Re-enactor Notes: Though exceptions did occur, enlisted men rarely carried more than one sidearm. Spare cylinders were not use. Pistols were loaded using cartridges and soldiers were expected to load and cap at any gate. However, because we are balancing reenacting with authenticity, and often perform multiple pistol charges during a battle, many of our mounted troopers do prefer carrying more than one, as well as additional 'spare cylinders'.
Conversion cylinders are completely inaccurate.
Unless you are buying a pistol specifically for your
Confederate impression, avoid revolvers with brass frames as they represent
Confederate copies of Federal steel framed sidearms.
• Optional: Remington
"Army" .44 caliber, Steel Frame.
Additional Notes: Many other types of pistols existed during the war, and some of our members may decide to carry them – However it should be noted that these are concessions to historical accuracy. Any "non-issued" type pistol will need to be approved.
Recommended Pistol Vendors:
NOTE: Reproduction sabers are generally junk. The most accurate reproduction
will be properly constructed with the grip being leatherbound and having the proper wire wrap,
and peened (hammered down) tang. Sabres with the
nut on the end are dangerous and will not be accepted. Ideally, the
reproduction should have correct maker’s marks and no 'India' or other import stamp
on the blade.
• OR: M1840 Heavy Cavalry Saber ("Old Wristbreaker") accepted.
Nipple wrench, nipple picks, pistol tool, sweet oil. Period
cloth rag for oiling. A quick field cleaning can be performed by simply
pouring very hot water down the barrel until the water runs clear, and
then oiling once the water has evaporated and is dry (Note: This
should not replace a proper cleaning after the event. Firearms should
always be well cleaned and maintained – just as was required
of the trooper during the Civil War).
Please keep any and all modern cleaning or loading materials well hidden when spectators or other reenactors are present.
Historical Note: Soldiers in the field stored their personal items in their blanket roll, saddlebags, pockets, etc. Haversacks were for food and eating utensils.
This not a complete list and these items would vary per soldier, location, time of year, etc. And with the exception of period frames (if you must wear glasses) these are optional/secondary.
All are of proper period pattern and materials:
Re-enactor Notes: Horse equipments may be purchased in standard re-enactor grade (machine sewn, made with vat dyed harness leather—dyed black on both sides and heavier than what was used on originals). However, most makers will custom make horse equipments with oak tanned, hand dyed leather (dyed black on one side only) and hand stitching on request. Ideally, all leather horse equipments should be sewn with linen “kit finish” thread. and not be unfinished—bright white—or made of synthetic materials.
When purchasing and using horse equipment, the
comfort and safety of the mount always comes first!
• B. Surcingle, M1859
- Issued Item. REQUIRED for safety. Proper wool web, leather, with iron roller buckles.
Please, unless you already own one, do not purchase or use a "Brass Heart" breast strap if using a McClellan saddle. Though sold by many saddle makers, they are incorrect for McClellan's. And while popular in the hobby were actually part of the M1847 Grimsley horse equipment (and are the wrong pattern even for a Grimsley). In the limited period photos in which brass-heart straps actually do appear, they are usually on an officers rig, and very occassionally on a State volunteer trooper's horse who was issued surplus grimsley equipment.
If your saddle requires the use of a breast strap, consider a "private purchase" civilian model or a simple "field" made one (3 leather straps and an iron ring) of period construction and materials. A surcingle used as a breast strap (threaded under front quarter straps and through pommel) is documented. If you already own a 'brass heart' strap and must use it, and are not in a position to replace it, consider removing the brass heart plate.
Running martingales were used by officers and 'tie-downs'
were not used.
Avoid visible saddlepads. If your horse needs extra padding, consider using your sleeping blanket or shelter half as an "authentic" solution.
Recommended Saddle Blanket Vendors:
The closest reproduction currently being offered is by Charlie Childs, but it is not inexpensive.
• P. Carbine Thimble M1859 style. Used to keep your carbine from swinging while riding.
• Q. Pommel holsters were
not issued With McClellan saddles, and when used were generally by officers. Though occassional found in photos of early war State units being issued older dragoon equipment.
Our camp impression is usually that of soldiers in a garrison-style camp located near a town or city. Because of this, we may have civilians and families in camp with us (if event standards allow). Our battlefield impression is that of troopers on campaign.
Note: Our group’s philosophy is that whatever goes inside your tent is your own business. However we ask that any items seen by the public or other re-enactors be of period construction and materials unless approved by commanding NCO or Officer, or the event standards.
Each trooper should have one shelter half as part of his basic kit. Additionally, members may add a second shelter half to form a complete 'dog tent', or purchase a larger tent for garrison use. Any U.S. Issue tent of appropriate material and construction is generally allowed.
Reenactor notes: While most in our group prefer a bit more comfort, feel free to sleep on the ground and only carry into an event what a soldier in the field would have carried on his horse. This is known as 'campaign camping' and can actually be quite fun. Here is where your gum blanket and/or poncho, Sleeping blanket, and shelter half would be used.
• Shelter Half - This was an Issued Item. Each soldier carried one half and when buttoned together it created a "Dog Tent" for two men (though many of our troopers who use this tent buy two halves and sleep one man to a tent). The tent is made from light weight canvas with hand sew grommets (do not buy a shelter half with brass grommets). Buttons are of bone (preferred) or paperbacked tin. The 'half' should be of period construction and pattern.
Shelter halves were also used to make lean-to's and "shebangs", as well as used as blankets or ground cloths. Period correct materials and methods should be used for staking and support.
Re-enactors Notes: Triangular end pieces were not produced or issued by the government during the war. However, there are a few references in contemporary sources of them being custom made or purchased from sutlers. Generally additional shelter halves, blankets, gum blankets/ponchos, and overcoats were used to cover one or both ends. For comfort and privacy, some members of our group who use "dog tents" do use those triangular end pieces.
• A-Frame - (Optional) Also called a 'Wedge Tent'. This would not have been used while on patrol or in bivouac. However they were often found in garrison camps. Of period construction and pattern. Period correct materials and methods should be used for staking and any visible support.
• Wall Tent - Generally reserved for officers (though some in our group use them). Must be approved by commanding NCO or Officer, or the event standards. Of period construction and pattern. Period correct materials and methods should be used for staking and any visible support.
Re-enactor notes: Any non-issue tentage must be approved by commanding officer. It is recommended that you not purchase a tent without assistance.
• Seating - Folding chairs were generaly reserved for Officers and VIP's, and were very rarely (if ever) seen being used by the typical enlisted men in camps (though some in our group choose to use them). Seating, when used by enlisted men at all, was scavenged, or more often built from materials on hand. However, a period correct style folding wood camp stool or chair will be acceptable depending on event standards. Those 1930's Boy Scout pattern Scissor Camp Chairs or "Adirondack Chairs" are NOT period correct). More authentic options may be to use a small soldier-made stool or bench built from logs, barn boards or hardtack box pieces. A "found" 3 or 4 legged stool, or a simple log set on end. Ammo and hardtack boxes are often seen as makeshift seating in period photos. Of course simply tossing your poncho on the ground and sitting on that, or with your back against a tree, stump, or saddle is also a perfectly good option.
• Tables - Like folding stools and chairs, folding camp tables were extremely rare (to non-existent) for the enlisted men in camps (though many in our group use them when event standards permit.) When seen in period photos at all, camp tables were scavenged or built from materials on hand. Any small period correct wood folding camp table will be acceptable, however more authentic options may be to use a hard tack box stood on end, or with legs attached to it's lid. Or a trestle table (a separate top supported by sawhorses, barrels, boxes, logs, or tree branch legs). Of course not bringing a table at all is a perfectly good option.
Note: One advantage to using a hard tack box as a table is that you also have something to store your gear in when you come to and leave an event. Instruction on building a hard tack box can be found here.
I wish to thank Ken Morris of the 10th New York, and Dave Myrick and Jerry Todd of the 1st Maine Cavalry reenacting groups for kindly allowing me to use excerpts from their own authenticity standards as a starting point in the creation of those above. It helped immensely. I seek accuracy above all else, and welcome comments, new information, and evidence in the search to make them as correct as possible given the often times limited materials on hand. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org