Uniform & Equipment Guidelines
for the 2nd U.S. Cavalry

Click here for the OFFICIAL 2nd U.S. Cavalry Standards



Why Guidelines
General Appearance
A Note About The Vendors Listed

I. Uniform
-- a. Headgear
-- b. Jacket
-- c. Trousers
-- d. Shirts & Undergarments (Shirt, Socks, Suspenders, Drawers)
-- e. Footwear
-- f. Overcoat
-- g. Vest
-- h. Stable Frock
-- I. Dress Gloves

II. Accoutrements
-- a. Sword Belt
-- b. Cap Pouch
-- c. Pistol Holster
-- d. Pistol Cartridge Box
-- e. Carbine Cartridge Box
-- f. Carbine Sling
-- g. Haversack
-- h. Mess Equipment (Plate, Flatware, Cup, etc.)
-- i. Canteen
-- j. Blanket
-- k. Shelter Half
-- l. Poncho/Gum Blanket

III. Weaponry
-- a. Carbine
-- b. Pistol
-- c. Saber
-- d. Cleaning and Loading Equipment

IV. Personal Items
(Hygiene Items, Spectacles, Pocket Watch, Bible, Gambling Items, etc.)

V. Horse Equipments
-- a. Saddle
-- b. Surcingle
-- c. Crupper
-- d. Breast Strap
-- e. Saddle Bags
-- f. Halter
-- g. Lead Strap
-- h. Bridle
-- i. Bit
-- j. Link Strap
-- k. Nose Bag
-- l. Picket Pin and Lariat
-- m. Saddle Blanket
-- n. Ration Bag
-- o. Curry Comb, Brush, Hoof Pick
-- p. Carbine Thimble
-- q. Pommel Holster
-- r. Spurs

VI. Camps
-- a. Tentage
-- b. Camp Furniture


Why Guidelines?

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.

To that end, the following have been established as guidelines to be consulted in putting together a typical enlisted man’s impression. They have been verified using contemporary sources and wartime photographs. And developed using the following criteria:

1. Was it in existence?
2. Was it in use?
3. Was it common?

Therefore, historically speaking, even though one might be able to document that something existed and was used at some point, to make it into the guidelines listed below it would have needed to be common as well.

However, as re-enactors, some members may take a few liberties with historical fact. Scattered throughout these guidelines, you will find mention of occasional concessions that some in our group have chosen to make for a number of different reasons; comfort, safety, expense, showmanship, to name a few. They are pointed out, and in those cases one can then decide for themselves what is most fitting towards their goals as a re-enactor and as a member of the group. Though this may best be determined after meeting us, and seeing how we do things.

Given the amount and expense of gear needed in reenacting, no one is expected to buy all of their equipment up front, or all at once. Especially if they are new to the hobby and haven't decided whether it is for them yet. Many necessary items are available to borrow while working to build their own "kit". However, if a person wears hard to borrow sizes, they may want to consider purchasing those items first.

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.

Also, a member may decide that sometime in the future they would like to attend an event that our group does not officially participate in. Some of these can have very strict authenticity standards, and less than authentic or incorrect uniforms and equipment may not meet those standards. This is generally not a factor in the events we attend, but may be something to consider when calculating cost versus your future goals as a reenactor.

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.

Again, these guidelines are provided as a guide. They are not meant to discourage anyone, or to be judgmental – but to be used to learn from – and to do the most justice we 21st century re-enactors can for those who fought this war. We owe it to them, the event sponsors, and to the people that come to watch and learn from us in action.

General Appearance

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.

Weapons should NOT be rusty or fouled. The soldier was expected to keep his weapons clean, rust free, and in perfect working order, being punished and/or having his pay garnished for neglecting these duties. So keep those guns, sabers and scabbards clean.

A Note About The Vendors Listed In These Guidelines



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 people notice.

Forage Cap, M1858, Type 1 (Preferred) or Type II.

The 1858 forage cap was an issued item, and the mainstay of the Federal soldier in the Civil War. It is the PRIMARY headgear of 2nd U.S. enlisted man.

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 medium blue wool flannel (not navy blue, or coarse fuzzy wool), with matching welt around disk and above the brim where it attaches to the cap. With painted "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 terms 'Type 1 and Type II' are modern designations used to describe two general patterns of forage caps found during the Civil War. The Type 1 cap has a smaller disk and more cresent-shaped bill whereas the Type II has a larger disk and a more squared-off brim. The Type 1appears far more frequently than the Type II in original photos of Eastern Theater Federal cavalry soldiers. It is considered by some to be an earlier pattern than the Type II.

Avoid the "McDowell" and "Commercial" style forage caps. Avoid caps that do not have the 'patent leather' brim and chin strap, brims of thick harness leather, and/or cheap, thick navy blue wool that will fade to a purplish gray.

Re-enactor Notes: The visor should be worn flat or pushed upward, not rolled like a modern baseball cap.

Quality Forage Cap Vendors:

Dirty Billy's Hats (#US10 Type I)

Nick Sekela (#0701)

The Regimental Quartermaster (carries Nick Sekela forage caps in their Campaigner Gear section. Sizes available to order from the pull down menu are in stock and you may not have to wait if Nick is out.)

Superior Cap Co. (eBay store, you may have to contact him for a Type I in your size if none are in stock)

Note: C&D Jarnagin makes a passable forage cap, but it is not made of indigo-dyed wool, and 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.

Re-enactor Notes: DO NOT BUY A “KEPI” unless you are a NCO or Officer, or the authenticity standards of an event you are attending call for one. These were a "private purchase" item and not issued by the Federal government. Buying a kepi should only come after purchasing a quality forage cap, and should not replace the forage cap as your primary uniform hat.


• Optional: Hardee Hat turned slouch was a common slouch hat when and where slouches were worn (especially in the Westenr Theater of the war.) Soldiers would take their issued M1858 Army Dress Hat (Hardee Hat) and customize it in a variety of ways, altering the crown and brim to make a slouch hat unique to their style. See below for a description of what makes for an authentic Hardee hat. When turning a Hardee hat into a slouch, please do not add brass, a feather, or braided hat cord. While these items are occassionally seen, they are the exception rather than the rule. It will also give you a wider range of events that the hat will be acceptable for.

• Optional: civilian "slouch hat", or other period-correct private-purchase hat.
Made of fine wool felt (without a “fuzzy” appearance). Medium to dark gray, medium to dark brown, or black, (with black being the most common).These hats would commonly have had sewn-on edge binding of silk ribbon. Leather or cotton duck sweat band. Crown ribbon. Silk or polished cloth lining.

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.

Quality Slouch Hat Vendors:

Dirty Billy's Hats

Clearwater Hats

Tim Bender Hats

Re-enactors Notes: While a bit more latitude was given to volunteer cavaly units (especially in the western theater of operations), slouch hats are very rarely seen in period photographs of 'regular' US enlisted troopers. And on the rare occassion that they do appear, it's on the head of an NCO. Some of our members however do wear them when event standards permit. Buying a slouch hat should only come after purchasing a quality forage cap, and should not replace the forage cap as your primary uniform hat unless the event calls for or allows it.

• Optional: Fully Dressed M1858 Dress Hat (Hardee Hat): This was an issue item. Originals were made of fine black wool felt, with 1/4-inch ribbon at base of crown. 2 rows of stitching around brim. The brim is to be looped on the right side (for cavalry) and held with a brass eagle pin, an ostrich feather is to be worn on the side opposite the loop. The felt is shellacked and the hat has a label inside. Regulation brass and yellow worsted hat cord ending with tassels. Optional: Thin patent leather chin strap with adjustment buckle (For mounted regiment dress hats, per June of 1859 Order).

Re-enactor Notes: This hat is optional as there is rarely a need to own one (unless you purchase it as a slouch). The fully adorned dress hat is good however for very early war events and dress occasions.

Quality Dress Hat Vendors:

Dirty Billy's Hats (#US8)

Tim Bender Hats

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 turning into a faded hillbilly hat.

A few notes on Hat Brass:

For forage caps, regulations originally called for the company letter alone to be attached to the front of the cap (not the disk). However this regulation was largly disregarded and later changed after Hooker's reorganization of the cavalry in 1863, where the Cavalry was authorized to have full hat brass, including the regiment number, crossed sabers, and company letter attached to the top of the disk. Due to deficiencies however sometimes only the crossed sabers were found, sometimes only the company letter, and quite often, no hat brass was worn at all.

When considering attaching hat brass, you may want to keep in mind that some events portray specific units/scenarios other than what we normally portray, or may not allow any hat brass at all. Also, you simply may not wish to put holes in your headgear. Given this, keeping your hat completely unadorned from brass, or at most just having the crossed sabers, may be a good option. Another may be having two forage caps, one with brass and one without.

A few notes on Hat Cords, Feathers, Animal Tails, and other such Personalizations:
Aside from the Army Dress Hat, and some very specific units during the war, personalizations and decorations such as hat cords, plumes, feathers, medallions, pins, squirrel tails, and other dead animal parts, though occasionally found, were the exception rather than the rule – especially given the rigors of campaign, or a strict commanding officer. To portray the plain, everyday, common trooper, it is recommended to avoid such personalizations altogether, and leave your hat plain. Also, as with brass, decorations and personalizations may not be allowed (or be very specific) at events other than those our group normally attends


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).

It has a short (2-1/2 inches in the back) somewhat rounded collar and faced lapels and cuffs. 3 or 4 piece body. Front facings were wider at the top and narrowd at the bottom. Inner facings were occasionally made from an entirely different color of wool flannel than the body of the coat. Four evenly spaced US eagle buttons and hand-worked buttonholes. Large kidney shaped inside left breast pocket. Cuffs rose slightly in the front and had a small, scalloped vent in the rear. Unlined versions have all seams flat-felled. Lined versions should have a one-piece body lining of wool flannel or wool/cotton weave. Bottom of body lining hung loose a few inches from the bottom of coat. Sleeve linings were of muslin and were attached to bottom of the sleeve about 1-3/4 inches above the bottom of the cuff. The blue linen thread used on most originals was logwood dyed which faded to brown very quickly..

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.

Re-enactor Notes: The closer a reproduction sack coat is to the above specifications, the more accurate it will be. Also, the sack coat is currently under-represented among cavalry re-enactors - and it has the advantage of being cooler, more comfortable and much less expensive than a correctly made mounted services jacket.

Quality Sack Coat Vendors:

C. J. Daley (Lined Fatigue Blouse) Great authentic coat for the price!!

Wambaugh, White & Co. (Contract Blouse)

John Wedeward Sack Coats (J.T. Martin Contract Coat)

Nick Sekela (#0101- J.T. Martin Contract Coat)

Note: C&D Jarnagin makes an acceptable sack coat, however the pattern and cuffs are wrong. If you buy it in the correct lighter weight wool and lined, you are paying as much as Chris Daley's who's authenticity is top notch and even includes hand stitched button holes.

If possible, do your best to avoid Fall Creek, Blockade Runner, Quartermaster Shop, sutler tents, and other lower end vendors for your Sack Coat. Not only is the pattern wrong, the wool they use is noticeably incorrect even at a distance.

• Click here for a study on original sack coats.


Mounted Services Jacket (“shell jacket”) – Mounted Service Jackjets were made of indigo-died dark blue or royal blue wool broad-cloth (very fine weave) or kersey (Avoid the blackish “navy” blue material that fades to purple (not possible with indigo died fabric) and gets “fuzzy” as it wear as it is the wrong color, too heavy, and noticeably incorrect even at a distance). Piping was made of 3/8” yellow dyed worsted wool or mohair tape (the neon yellow, cotton trim as often found on sutler repros which quickly fades is also incorrect). There would be two double rows of trim with a small federal eagle button on each side of the standing collar. Collar had a hook & eye closure. 12 small brass eagle buttons down the front with hand sewn buttonholes. A body lined with osnaburg, jeancloth, cotton drilling, or lightweight wool flannel, with sleeves lined in muslin. And 2 small federal eagle buttons on each cuff. Originals also had padded and quilted chests.

Re-enactor Notes: The closer a reproduction MSJ is to the above specifications, the more accurate it will be.

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 and fades to a sickly grayish-purple.

• Click here for a study on original Cavalry Jackets.

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. Do not buy cotton chevrons as these fade very quickly. C. J. Daley makes excellent chevrons for the price.



Mounted Pattern Trousers. – Same as foot pattern but with reinforced seat and legs. Made of 21 ounce sky-blue wool kersey with a visible diagonal weave to the wool. Reinforced seat and legs was sewn on by hand, and extended down to cuff. Facings on the cuffs with a one inch vent on the outside seam. Buttons on inside of cuffs for instep straps.

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.

Trouser stripes and welts were reserved for non-commissioned and commissioned officers only. Enlisted men did not wear them (this is another product of Hollywood). When worn, they would be in the color of the branch of service. In this case yellow for cavalry (orange for early war dragoon impression) and made of worsted wool twill tape with the width of the stripe designating rank; worn over the outer seam. Regulations called for sergeants to have a stripe 1-1/2" wide, and corporals 1/2" wide. Officers had a welt of piping running the length of their trousers. Stripes are optional for NCO's as photo reference shown they were often unused. If worn, no cotton or modern fabrics should be used.

Re-enactor Notes: The closer a pair of reproduction trousers are to the above specifications, the more accurate it will be.
Mounted trousers are preferred but infantry trousers are acceptable if already owned and of a proper pattern and materials.

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:

Stony Brook Company

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 - the wool they use is cheap, fuzzy (with no diagonal weave), and quickly wears away, especially in the crotch.




• 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. Members are encouraged to purchase an issue shirt, but it is not a required item.

Quality U.S. Issue Shirt Vendors:

Nick Sekela

C. J. Daley

Carter & Jasper

Wambaugh, White & Company

Further reading: Federal Issue Shirts by Chris Sullivan

• OR: Civilian Pattern Shirt - Civilian shirts were not issued and were most often sent from home, purchased, or made by the soldier. Constructed of 100 percent natural materials in period-correct colors and/or patterns. Period patterns called for the skirts to be longer than modern shirts. Fall-down or a banded collar. One, two, or no pockets. Originals had hand sewn button holes. Woven (not printed) plaids and checked patterns were common. As were wool, cotton, and flannel shirts dyed in plain solid colors. Small metal, glass, shell, porcelain, or mother-of-pearl buttons are preferred. Bone and especially wood buttons were associated with "slave clothing" and rare, but are acceptable.

Re-enactor Notes: The typical unbleached muslin shirts sold by many sutlers as "uniform shirts", while passable as a private purchase/civilian shirt, tend to be extremely over represented in the hobby.
Most period civilian shirts were colored (solids, prints,or checks). Be careful if choosing Calico however since many are not correct for the period.


• 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 if you wish to have an extra layer of warmth.

Quality Bottom Shirt Vendors::

Corner Clothiers

Morris & Company

• Stockings (socks) – of wool, cotton, or wool/cotton blend. In any naturally dyed color (common colors are off-white, gray, buff, blue, or bluish-gray). Hand knit socks from home often incorporated brighter colors and contrasting heel and toes. They would not have had rings or bands of contrasting color, or elastic. The modern hunting and ribbed socks of today are inauthentic. Both hand woven and machine woven socks were produced.

Re-enactor Notes: Modern oatmeal or gray “ragg” wool socks are close enough to do in a pinch.

Quality Socks Vendors:

Carter & Jasper

Ben Tart

Other vendors include:

Fall Creek or any retail store or vendor that sells ragg wool socks

Suspenders (Braces) Were not an issued item and if worn were purchased from sutlers, sent from home, or made by the soldier. If your trousers stay up without suspenders you do not need them.

Any type of period correct civilian model is fine: all-cloth "poor boys", or adjustable (with tin, brass, or japanned steel buckles with two or three prongs that pierced the material). Separate button straps should be attached directly to the prong buckles, with the main suspender straps passing through and not sewn to them (see sample photo link). Made of canvas, drill, linen, tapestry, embroidered, crocheted, woven, or ticking. Leather ends were common.

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.

Re-enactor Notes: Virtually all of the suspenders sold by event sutlers and lower-end vendors are wrong. So are most of the suspenders worn by reenactors. Clip-on suspenders are not allowed. Y - back suspenders are a post war pattern and incorrect. Flip-up clasp and sliding friction buckles are wrong. And while a type of elastic did exist during the war (and a couple sutlers such as Nick Sekela and Carter & Jasper sell braces incorporating this elastic). it sould be understood that using fully elastic suspenders would be a concession to historical accuracy.

Click here to see examples of incorrect suspenders.

Quality Braces Vendors:

Regimental Quartermaster

Carter & Jasper

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.)

• Drawers: (Optional) Period drawers were made of canton flannel, cotton flannel, wool knit, or wool flannel in white or natural (off-white). Full length, or cut off at the knee. Two or three buttons in front, ties at back for waist adjustment, ties at ankles.

Re-enactor Notes: These are optional within our group as they are hidden, and are not required at the events we attend - though they may be required at more authentic events. They are also nice if wool trousers irritate your legs, you wish to have an extra layer of warmth, or you simply desire to go that extra step in authenticity.


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.

• Model 1851 Jefferson Bootee (brogans). Issued Item. The same as issued to infantry. Rough-out waxed leather, dyed black outside only, with sewn or pegged soles (Either one row or two rows of pegs is acceptable). Heel plates optional. Black rawhide laces.

Quality "Brogans" Vendors:

Missouri Boot & Shoe

Mattimore Harness

• OR: Federal Issue Boots - Called "Artillery Boots" they were also issued to cavalry begining in 1859. Properly constructed with single piece vamp (front), pegged or sewn soles. 12" tall upper, straight cut top or with short front "stable flap". Leather rough side out, dyed black outside only. Heel plates optional.

Quality "Artillery Boot" Vendors:

Missouri Boot & Shoe

Fugawee (Good for the price - If ordering, note that they run about 1/2-size small)

Mattimore Harness

• OR: Civilian/Private Purchase boots: Not issued, and would have been purchased by the trooper or sent from home. Period Construction. Single piece front (preferred). Either pegged or sewn soles. At the knee or shorter. Straight cut top or with front flap. Heel plates optional.

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.

Quality "Private Purchase" Boot Vendors:

Missouri Boot & Shoe

Mattimore Harness

F. OVERCOAT (Optional)

Mounted Pattern Overcoat: Originals were constructed of approximately 21 oz. sky blue wool kersey with a visible wale in the fabric. Have a stand and fall collar, a double breasted front (two rows of 6 buttons) and a 12 button cape extending to the wrist. Body was lined with sack coat flannel with sleeves in cotton drilling. It has a long rear vent to assist wearing while sitting in the saddle.

Re-enactor Note: The single-breasted infantry pattern, with shorter elbow length cape is acceptable.

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.

G. VEST (Optional)

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.

H. Stable Frock (Optional)

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.

I. White Dress Gloves (Optional)

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.

II. Accoutrements

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.

Pre- and Early-War patterns are recommended and preferred as they work for virtually all scenarios and time periods of the war.
If you are not sure if a pattern is pre-or early-war, find out before buying.)

While generally not an issue at the events our group attends, these suggestions could be important to you down the road if you chose to do an event with higher authenticity standards.

A. U.S. Issue M1851 Saber Belt - Enlisted model. Of blackened buff, waxed leather (rough-side-out), or bridle leather (smooth side out). Early war types (blackened buff or waxed leather) were all sewn construction with no rivets. Mid to late war incorporated rivets in the construction. 2-piece enlisted brass eagle buckle with applied silver wreath (early plate had a 3-piece silver wreath). Shoulder and saber straps. Brass hardware. Avoid snaphooks on saber straps. Originals had rivets (if used) made of copper, and the thread was linen and hand sewn.

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 Work 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.

B. Cap Pouch - U.S. issue, M1850 or M1855. Holds percussion caps. Standard or Shield Front. Made of black "bridle" leather, smooth side out. With an inner flap. Brass finial. Early war models were of all sewn construction where later models incorporated rivets. Lambs wool lining. With a nipple pick and a small leather loop inside to hold the pick.

Cap Pouch can be worn on either side of saber belt buckle.

Quality Cap Pouch Vendors:

Missouri Boot & Shoe (M1850 Standard or Shield front)
Very authentic pouch for the price!!!

Duvall Leather Work (Top of the line)

Jarnagin (M1850 Standard or Shield front)

C. Pistol Holster - U.S. issue. Black "bridle" leather dyed on one-side only. Smooth side out. Worn butt forward right side. Round End Plug. Brass finial. Reinforcing tab to keep holster spread open for easy return of pistol. Hand sewn with waxed linen thread. Colt holsters had a more fitted shape.

Early war pattern recommended for greatest range of events.

Re-enactor Notes: Early version had flap attaching tab sewn to flap, with no rivet. However the belt loop could be sewn with no rivets, or sewn and riveted. Mid to late-war holster had flap attaching tab sewn and riveted to flap, as was the belt loop. Do not buy a holster with a U.S. stamp or makers mark on flap.

Quality Holster Vendors:

Duvall Leather Work (Top of the line) .44, Fits both Colt or Remington

Jarnagin (#EL280) Note: for the price I would recommend going with Duvall. His has the two rows of stitching and 3 rivets holding the belt loop secure, whereas Jarnagin only has a single row of stitching and two rivets. Specify Colt or Remington.

D. Pistol Cartridge Box - U.S. issue. For pistol cartridges. Black leather dyed one side only - smooth side out. Brass finial
Re-enactor Notes: Flap attaching tab should be sewn on only, with no rivet. Belt loops on pre and early war boxes were generally sewn on with no rivets, though some were sewn and riveted.

Quality Pistol Box Vendors:

Duvall Leather Work (Top of the line)

Jarnagin (#209)

E. Carbine Cartridge Box - U.S. Issue. For carbine cartridges. Black bridle leather, dyed one side only - smooth side out. Brass finial.
Note: Different types of carbine boxes were manufactured and used depending on the type of carbine carried. As the Sharps was the primary carbine of the 2nd U.S., only Sharps boxes are listed below.

"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).
Note: Do not buy the late - post war Sharps box with rounded flap.


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 Work The only vendor right now that makes an authentic Sharps Carbine Box - Top of the line.

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.

F. Carbine Sling
- U.S. issue. Of black buff, waxed, or bridle leather, with brass buckle and end piece, and iron roller snap hook. Sewn only, no rivets in construction.

Quality carbine Sling Vendors:

Duvall Leather Work (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.
Note: Jarnagin's sling is nearly twice the price of Duvall's.

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.

Contents of Haversack:
• Rations
• Cotton or linen ration bags (polk sacks)
• Mess Equipment (Plate, Cup, Knife, Fork, Spoon)

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:

Missouri Boot & Shoe (Harrison Wiley's Haversack)
Excellent Haversack for the price!!! Even comes with the shiny "linseed oil" finish.

S&S Sutler of Gettysburg

Regimental Quartermaster

Jarnagin (303)

Note: Most vendor's make their haversack strap for the largest quintile. For comfortable and authentic wear, the strap may have to cut and sewn shorter.

H. Mess Equipment (Stored inside Haversack) - All mess equipment should be of period correct pattern and construction.

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.

I. Tin Mess Plate - Any period correct tin plate will do. Because mess plates were not an issued item, they came in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. Though plates made of other materials, such as pewter or even wood were found, tinned iron plates were favored and generally, by the 1830s, were used nearly exclusively by soldiers in the field.

Re-enactor Notes: Plate should NOT be stamped U.S. as this did not occur until 1874. No modern pie plates or stainless steel please.

A canteen half, or small stamped sheet metal frying pan can also be used in place of plate. frying pan bodies of cast iron are not correct for the period, nor are modern cast iron skillets (though generally acceptable).

II. Knife, fork, spoon (of period construction). Prior to 1874, procurement of eating utensils (knife, fork, and spoon) was up to the individual soldier. On some occasions, such items were, purchased and distributed by a benevolent commander, purchased by company funds, or in the case of a volunteer regiment, contributed by a support organization at home. Such cases were, however, the exception rather than the norm. Utensils should have wood or bone handles. Forks are generally three-pronged (though both two and four prongs were found). Genuine nineteenth century utensils are very affordable and can usually be found online, at flea markets, antique stores, and Civil War relic shows

OR knife/fork/spoon combo tool. A very popular item purchased by soldiers.

III. Tin Cup, or Boiler with Bail - Standard common civil war tin cup. Approximately 4x4 inches with wire reinforced looped handle, secured at the top by two wire loops, and at the bottom with washer and rivet. Handle can be offset from seam (more common in originals), or set on the seam. Bottom of cup should be lipped and soldered. With or without bailing wire.
Or any period tin cup of proper construction and pattern - with or without bailing wire.

Boilers (Tin cup or can with the addition of a bailing wire) are good for making soup, stew and beans as well as coffee. A reproduction period tin can with a bailing wire makes a great "field made" boiler. Modern ribbed cans with crimped bottoms are incorrect.

Bailing wires can be field made (holes punched in cup and wire added by soldier) or contractor produced (as shown in linked photo above).

Re-enactor Notes: Prior to 1874 cups were NOT issued, and a wide variety of cups were carried by soldiers. Original cups were made of sheet iron with the entire cup being dipped in tin. Modern hot dipped tin is probably the closet you will find today to being period-correct.

Many members prefer what is commonly called a "mucket" for camp use. A mucket is a medium sized boiler with a hinged cover and bailing wire. It should be noted though that there is little documentation these were in wide spread use ... a basic tin cup or small boiler with a bail is what a trooper would have normally carried.

Stainless steel did NOT exist at the time of the Civil War, however muckets and cups made from it are generally acceptable for most of our events, provided they pass for tin; however avoid purchasing those with a machined and not separate soldered-on lipped bottom. Those rounded, machined bottoms are very noticible as farby to anyone with even a basic eye for authenticity.

TIN WILL LAST FOR YEARS just fine if taken care of, so do not be put-off by those saying tin rusts and to buy stainless steel instead.

Do not place any soldered or tin mess equipment in the fire without liquid inside, the solder may melt.

When the haversack was full, cups or boilers were often attached to the outside of the haversack.

The purchase of a mucket should not replace purchasing a proper tin cup or boiler.

Quality Mess Equipment Vendors:

Hot Dip Tin Very authentic cups using hot dipped tin (yet still lead-free) made on actual 1850's tin smithing machines. Very reasonably priced too! His cups are based on originals with known provenance to the person who carried them during the war. His "Plouffe Tin Cup" is a good example of a common soldiers cup. He will add a bail upon request and If you want tin or cast iron ears for the bail, he charges a bit more for that.

Otter Creek Tinware

S&S Sutler of Gettysburg

Regimental Quartermaster Check their Field Gear and Campaigner Gear sections, they also offer the folding knife, fork and spoon combo tool.

C&D Jarnagin


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.

Regulations called for the canteen to be worn on the person, and not attached to the horse.

Re-enactors Notes: Since the canteen itself is covered, stainless steel is perfectly acceptable, but it should have a pewter or tin spout (Blockade Runner, Jarnagin). Stainless steel should never be visible. Cheap sutler-row canteens can also be re-covered with jean cloth covering kits and the chain replaced with hemp string to make them appear more authentic. Avoid the "bullseye" pattern unless you buy it as a secondary canteen specifically for mid to late war events.
A full canteen should always be carried on to the battlefield.

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)

J. Blanket - Gray, brown, or gray//brown wool U.S. Issue with black or dark brown stripe woven (not printed) at each end, chain-stitched “US” in center.
OR: Gray or tan wool "emergency" blanket with woven (not printed) end stripes. With or without US stitched in center.
OR: Plain gray or dark blue wool blankets are acceptable (and are sometimes available in Army surplus stores quite inexpensively).

No edge binding on any of the above blankets is preferred, as they were cut from rolls. Though soldiers did sometimes bind the edges themselves to keep them from unraveling.

K. Shelter half - This was an Issued Item (beginning in 1862). Each soldier carried one half and when buttoned together it created a "Dog Tent" for two men (though most 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 and button holes (do not buy a shelter half with brass grommets, they are incorrect). Buttons are of bone (preferred) or paperbacked tin (late war). The half should be of period construction and pattern. Shelter halves were also used to make lean-to's, and she-bangs, 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 Federal government during the war. However, there are a few references in contemporary sources of them being custom made or purchased from sutlers. Normally, additional shelter halves, blankets, gum blankets/ponchos, scraps of canvas, 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 and that is acceptable; however, a more accurate impression would be to cover the ends in one of the manners listed above.

Libery Rifles Research Article on Shelter Tents
"The Federal Shelter Tent" by Fred Gaede
Sykes Regulars Research Article on Shelter Halves

Recommended Shelter Half Vendors:

Wambaugh, White, & Co

C&D Jarnagin (Hand sewn Grommets)

S&S Sutler of Gettysburg

Blockade Runner (bone buttons and hand sewn grommets and button holes). They also sell a set-up kit in case you do not want to go in the woods and cut your own limbs.

L. Poncho and/or Gum blanket - Originals were made of vulcanized "India rubber" coated cotton drill or muslin approximately 79"x45", with 1/4" brass grommets. A poncho had a 18" neck slit.
Re-enactor Notes: Nice for rainy weather. Good as a ground cloth, or with a wool blanket and surcingle to blanket horses in very rainy or cold weather. Common inaccuracies include large brass grommets.

Recommended Poncho Vendors:

Regimental Quartermaster

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.

III. Weaponry


Re-enactors Note: The Carbine is your primary weapon and aside from your horse and horse equipment (if mounted), your largest purchase. Shop around for the best price, and put "wanted to buy" ads in the re-enacting forums (on the links page). We will try and find you a loaner to start. However that can sometimes be a bit of a gamble as they are a hot commodity. Ultimately, without one of your own, your fun on the battlefield may be limited.

Note: The Civil War Cavalryman was trained to fight with his carbine from both horse and foot.

Model 1859 .54 Sharps Carbine, with patch box (preferred) - or the Model 1863, without patchbox.

Note: The patch box does not necessarily designate a '59 or '63 - these were identified by their serial numbers - serial number beginning with C. are 1863 models, the others are '59s. Patch boxes are found, or not found on both models. However, Model 1859 Sharps carbines manufactured prior to April of 1863 would have had patchboxes. There was a bit of an overlap between the two models where each may or may not have had them.

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:

Any Pedersoli, Armi Sport, Euroarms or IAB dealer such as Regimental Quartermaster , Fall Creek, or Blockade Runner


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.

Colt Model 1860 "Army" Preferred. .44 caliber, Steel Frame.
Brass trigger guard. Walnut grips. Brass grip straps and blued steel back strap. Naval battle engraved on the cylinder. Safety pins on the cylinder between nipples.
Re-enactor Note: This was THE revolver of 2nd U.S. during the war, and with the exception of a few Whitney Navy revolvers appearing in the ordanance reporst for Co. E of the fourth quarter of 1862, it was the only sidearm recorded for the companies we portray. Other revolvers may have been used prior to the fourth quarter of 1862, but I have no information confirming that.

• Optional: Colt Model 1851 “Navy” .36 caliber, Steel Frame.
Brass trigger guard. Walnut grips. Brass grip straps. Safety pins on the cylinder between nipples. Naval battle engraved on the cylinder.
Re-enactor Notes: The Navy revolver only appears in the first quarter reported in 1862 for Company E (after that it was all the Colt Army model) and does not appear at all in Company A ordnance reports. If you haven't purchased a revolver yet, please consider the Colt Army model instead. However, if you already own one, it is perfectly acceptable to use.

• Optional: Remington Model 1858 "Army" .44 caliber, Steel Frame.
Brass trigger guard. Walnut grips. Blued finish back strap. Safety notches on the cylinder shoulders between nipples.
Re-enactor Notes: This sidearm does not appear in any 2nd US ordnance reports for the companies we portray. Some mounted members do prefer it though because they can easily swap out an emptied cylinder with a pre-loaded one on the battlefield. However, for those interested in historical accuracy, it should be noted that this was not actually done.

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:

Any Pietta or Uberti dealer such as Cabela's, Regimental Quartermaster or Fall Creek.


(Optional for dismounted troopers)

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.

M1860 Light Cavalry Saber
Re-enactor Notes: This was the only saber to show up on 2nd US ordinance reports for the Companies we portray.

• 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).

Percussion caps for pistols (#10 or #11 depending on your sidearm), Musket caps for carbines.
Ideally, Cartridges should be rolled prior to an event, but some members prefer to do this while "preparing for battle".

For loading the pistol prior to taking the field (If not using pistol cartridges): A Colt powder flask with a 30 grain spout, extra flask containing Cream of Wheat (not the instant kind), and small tin of patch grease. Note: while not "authentic", these items pass reasonably well as period if the public is watching while pistols are being loaded in camp.

Please keep any and all modern cleaning or loading materials well hidden when spectators or other reenactors are present!!!

IV. Personal Items

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. You do not need to carry all these items.

All are to be of proper period pattern and materials:

• Folding pocket knife.
• Personal hygiene items: soap, tooth brush & tooth powder, small looking glass (mirror), comb (horn or black vulcanite—hard rubber), shaving equipment.
• Cotton or linen poke sacks.
• Small corked glass or tin bottles (for salt and pepper mix, etc.)
• Small tin containers (For storing prescription medicines, Contact lense case and solution, etc.)
• Pipe & tobacco pouch.
• Housewife (sewing kit containing needles, thread, thimbles, buttons)
• Writing utensils & paper
• Lucifers (matches) and match safe.
• Candle
• Candle holder or Lantern.
• Handkerchiefs
• Games/Gambling paraphernalia--cards, dice, etc.
• Pocket Bible
• Period book or newspaper.
• Wallet
• Scarf
• Mittens or gloves
• Pocket watch
• Spectacles (Glasses). If needed for vision correction, and contacts are not an option. Re-enactor Notes: Modern eyewear, or tinted lenses should be replaced with period glasses as soon as financially possible. Period frames can be found fairly cheaply and modern lenses put in. Contacts are just fine, but you may want period glasses as a back up due to the dirty nature of re-enactments

Very few things ruin a person's individual and the groups impression than wearing modern glasses or tinted lenses!!!

Period correct frame vendors: (Blockade Runner, Regimental Quartermaster, Focusers.com.

V. Horse Equipments
(For Mounted Troopers)

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!

• A. Saddle: Model 1859 McClellan – Enlisted model with rawhide-covered tree. (3 sizes of trees are made: 11 inch, 11-1/2 inch and 12 inch.) Off the rack saddles fit most “average” horses well, but some horses require custom-made saddle trees. All iron hardware, including jappaned or blued iron bar buckles. Coatstraps should be of proper weight and length with correct buckles, leather stops recommended. Proper wool web girth with iron roller buckles. Hooded wooden stirrups. Note: You may be able to borrow a McClellan saddle until you get your own.

• B. Surcingle, M1859 - Issued Item. REQUIRED for safety. Proper wool web, leather, with iron roller buckles.

• C. Crupper, M1859 was an issued item used to keep the saddle from slipping forwards on steep downhill grades. Its use is at the discretion of the owner and only if your horse is trained for it and will wear it safely without acting up, or causing discomfort or harm to the animal. The crupper is not meant to be a device to correct poor saddle fit, and constant pressure can cause severe chafing, discomfort and sores.
• D. Breast Strap. Breast straps were not issued with McClellan saddles. If used at all, troopers supplied their own "by hook or by crook" (Whittaker 43).

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.

• E. Saddle Bags, M1859 - Issued Item. Blackened leather, smooth or pebble grain. Smaller bags with iron buckle closure. Civil War saddle bags contained a curry comb, brush, hoofpick, cotton or linen huck rag, and horseshoes.

• F. Halter, M1859 - U.S. issue of black bridle leather and japanned iron hardware. Re-enactor Notes: An authentically reproduced halter will include leather watering-bridle loops sewn to cheek pieces.

• G. Lead Strap, M1859 - U.S. issue of blackened bridle leather, japanned or blued buckle.

• H. Bridle - Blackened bridle leather. Either the M1859 3-buckle headstall (early war pattern), or M1863 6-buckle headstall (mid war pattern), with reins sewn to bit rings and in center. All buckles should be japanned or blued iron bar buckles. Rosettes on the browband were not issued and rarely seen on the common enlisted mans horse (though used by some in our group).
• I. Bit, M1859 A U.S. Issue "sweet iron" cavalry curb bit (originals had blued steel side bars and slobber bar) is preferred if acceptable to horse and rider. However, a stainless steel or other style bit is acceptable if needed for your mount for any reason. We always put the health and comfort of the animal first. If your horse is not ready for a curb, a “private purchase” (civilian) bit is fine. Those which you can easily find at modern tack shops are: sweet iron loose ring snaffle, full cheek (fulmer) snaffle; pelham; double bridle (bit and bridoon). The latter two bits were common with officers but not enlisted men.
Note: Original U.S. issued curb bits were available in 4 different sizes of ports and widths.

• J. Link Strap, M1859 - with iron wire snap hook.

• K. Nosebag, M1859 (Optional) Flat bottom or rounded bottom. Black or undyed leather with iron roller buckle on strap. Great for carrying rations of grain, preventing waste of grain, and preventing horse fights on the picketline. Body of feed sack would preferably be of lightweight canvas, not heavy. But it may be difficult to find a properly made one.

• L. Picket Pin and Lariat, M1859 (Optional) Ideally the Lariat should be of proper 1-1/4-in. rope, 30 ft. long, 4-strand, left-laid hemp (NOT “manila” or sisal which can severely rope-burn a horse). Whipped at one end. Eye spliced to hand forged iron picket pin. Proper hemp lariat rope is extremely difficult to find (Try Doug Kidd at Border States). An authentic picket pin would be 14" long and made of iron painted black.

• M. Saddle Blanket - U.S. issued blue wool with orange stripe woven into the fabric. "U.S." hand stitched in center, 6" tall letters, in orange. Issue blankets were by regulation 75 inches long x 67 inches wide, and weighed 3.1875 lbs. Orange stripe should be lighter shade as per originals if possible.

OR: A plain dark blue or gray wool blanket is acceptable.

Re-enactor Notes: Nearly all sutler quality U.S. issue saddle blankets are not authentically reproduced (wrong wool (wool blend), too heavy, wrong shade of orange stripe, and usually omit the stitched U.S.) However, because of the costs or an authentic blanket, they are perfectly acceptable.

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.

Regimental Quartermaster

• N. Cotton or Linen Ration Bags encouraged for transporting grain for horses. One can also make a canvas “wallet” from old linen grain bags or pieces of shelter tent.

• O. Curry Comb, Brush, and Hoof Pick. Basic items that are required for the care of your horse. Must be period style if seen by public in camp.
Re-enactor Notes: Lederarsenal (Jan Henrik Berger, Germany) makes excellent reproductions. He does not have an English site up now but he does speak it. He takes PayPal and will ship to the U.S.

• 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.

Re-enactor Notes: Regular cavalry troopers rarely carried more than one sidearm or used pommel holsters. The Carbine was their primary firearm and they were trained to fight with it from both horseback and on foot. However, many of our mounted troopers do carry more than one revolver, believing that the public (who our battles are meant to entertain as well as instruct), prefer seeing multiple pistol charges – so those troopers often use pommel holsters to safely store that addional firepower."

• R. Spurs (Optional) Enlisted model. Plain brass. Regulation spur straps were 5/8" wide x 19" long, with roller buckle.


VI. Camps:

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.

Modern items should always be hidden from the public and other re-enactors.

(May be optional or postponed)

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.

K. Shelter half - This was an Issued Item (beginning in 1862). Each soldier carried one half and when buttoned together it created a "Dog Tent" for two men (though most 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 and button holes (do not buy a shelter half with brass grommets, they are incorrect). Buttons are of bone (preferred) or paperbacked tin (late war). The half should be of period construction and pattern. Shelter halves were also used to make lean-to's, and she-bangs, 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 Federal government during the war. However, there are a few references in contemporary sources of them being custom made or purchased from sutlers. Normally, additional shelter halves, blankets, gum blankets/ponchos, scraps of canvas, 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 and that is acceptable; however, a more accurate impression would be to cover the ends in one of the manners listed above.

Libery Rifles Research Article on Shelter Tents
"The Federal Shelter Tent" by Fred Gaede
Sykes Regulars Research Article on Shelter Halves

Recommended Shelter Half Vendors:

Wambaugh, White, & Co

C&D Jarnagin (Hand sewn Grommets)

S&S Sutler of Gettysburg

Blockade Runner (bone buttons and hand sewn grommets and button holes). They also sell a set-up kit in case you do not want to go in the woods and cut your own limbs.

• 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 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 - and are not acceptable).

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. The fewer folding chairs, the more authentic our camp becomes!

• Tables - Like folding stools and chairs, folding camp tables were extremely rare (to non-existent) for the enlisted men in camps. 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: An 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: dave@shadowlandstudios.com