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Optional Uniforms and Equipment

Shoes – C.S. issue shoes, English imported shoes, or civilian pattern boots (see reqired items).

Pants – C.S. issue wooljean trousers in light gray or oatmeal color (see required items).
or: Civilian homespun wooljean, wool and cotton, or wool in earth tone colors or plaids. Cotton trousers were sometimes worn, but were not common because they did not last very long in the field. As with all trousers, both military and civilian, the proper construction is as important as the fabric. Do your homework and view as many sources for original garments as possible before making your purchase or beginning your sewing project. (see required items)
Note: Nineteenth century men did not wear their clothes as we do today. In general, clothes were loose fitting, and mass-produced, non-tailored uniforms made in only four sizes were probably going to be to big or small anyway. Pants and waist belts were worn at the real waist (the navel), and not at the hips. Trousers were made with a higher back to prevent an unsightly gap beneath the shell jacket, which would otherwise appear whenever the soldier sat down. It also made it easier to work without ripping off suspender buttons, if suspenders were worn.

Suspenders – Civilian. The army never issued suspenders. They should be cotton webbing, canvas, or ticking. No elastic. They should have either button holes or leather tips with tin or brass buckles. No nickel-plated metal.
Note: Probably the rule to follow with suspenders is that if you pants fit without them you do not need suspenders. In period photographs you will see instances of soldiers with shirts or battleshirts (protective outer shirt) tucked in their trousers and their waist cinched tight with a sturdy belt.

Chris Graham
1420 E. Vineyard Rd.
Hayesville, NC 28904

Trans- Mississippi Depot Co.
PO Box 875
Tyler, TX 75710
903/526-1192 (FAX)

Shirt – civilian cotton in woven checked or striped pattern, etc. (see required items)

Hat/Cap – civilian black, brown, tan, or gray hat (do not wear an old "cowboy hat." No matter what you do to it, the thing will still look like an old "cowboy hat")

or: C.S. issue kepi (the kepi, which has a rigid top, was a common issue in the Southern army, whereas the forage cap, which has a top that inclines forward over the visor, was much more common in the Union army)

Note: Hats were predominant in the Army of Tennessee (see required items)

Coat – see required items

Socks - civilian wool or cotton (see required items)

Blanket – Quilts were most commonly used in the early war period. Gray, brown, or natural color wooljean or wool blanket(s) (see required items)

Haversack – C.S. issue white cotton duck, unpainted haversack.

Cotton haversacks are generally easy to make and are a fine first sewing project. Use cotton or hemp drilling instead of commercial canvas. Confederate haversacks generally follow the dimensions of their Federal counterpart.

Listed is a source for well researched Confederate haversacks:

Cotton City Tailors

7590 Meadows Drive South
Mobile, AL 36619
(334) 666-2792

Trans- Mississippi Depot Co.
PO Box 875
Tyler, TX 75710
903/526-1192 (FAX)

Drawers – civilian sent from home.

Note: Most soldiers usually wore drawers, which was long underwear that reached from the waist to the ankles (cotton drawers in the summer and woolen drawers in the winter). Undershirts were worn in the winter, and sometimes year round.

or: C.S. issue drawers.

Vest – civilian sent from home (either civilian or military pattern).

Source for the above items:

Mrs. Eddins’ Emproium
186 Hayes Circle Rex, GA 30273

Overcoat or Greatcoat – U.S. Model 1855 infantry pattern. This is a single-breasted coat with a cape that stops at the elbows.

or: State of Alabama issue greatcoat patterned after the U.S. Model 1851 greatcoat in varying shades of gray or oatmeal brown.

or: Like most Confederate soldiers, no greatcoat.

Overcoats, done correctly, are time consuming and expensive. The current settlers row variety are so incorrectly made (pattern, construction and materials) that buying one should not be an option. There are a few sources for correct Federal Overcoats listed below. Confederate Overcoats that the sutlers carry are not correct. Charlie Childs does carry a documented Confederate Overcoat Kit. But for a Confederate soldier a civilian overcoat produced from a pattern and yard goods would be the most appropreiate.

County Cloth
Charlie Childs
13797-c Georgetown St. NE
Paris, OH 44669

Chris Daley
PO Box 402
Burkittsville, MD 21718

Confederate Yankee

PO Box 192
Guilford, CT 06437-0192


(a) U.S. issue "shelter tent" (commonly referred to as a "dog tent" by the veterans, who said it was only large enough to accommodate a dog!). This was the most common of all Civil war tents. The Confederate army never issued shelter halves, but thousands were captured and used by Southern soldiers throughout the war. Government specifications called for dimensions of 5’6" long by 5’5" wide. However, due to nineteenth century "standardization", plus varying quality of material, shrinkage from rainfall, etc., the dimensions were shorter by varying degrees.

Each man could carry a shelter half, and button it together, with his pard’s half, to form the tent. Many veterans got so acclimated to the outdoors that they preferred to take their chances with the weather than carry the additional weight of a shelter half.

(b) C.S. issue tent fly – In the summer of 1863, General Braxton Brag ordered six tent flies to be provided for every 100 men in the Army of Tennessee. These flies were carried in the regimental baggage wagons, which by then was one baggage wagon per regiment. On the march, the trains nearly always fell behind, and if they did not catch up with the army, the men did without.

(c) U.S. issue "common tent" (period term) called "A-frames" or "wedge tents by reenactors. The dimensions were 6’10" long by 8’4" wide by 6’10" high. Common tents were used throughout the war, but they took up a lot of storage space in the baggage wagons. After the first year of the war, the Union army began to replace them with shelter tents or "dog tents" (period term), which the men could carry themselves. Common tents were thereafter generally used at the more permanent locations, such as, winter camps, government depots, and camps of instruction, etc.

The Confederate army issued wall tents and common tents on occasion, but the number was extremely small, after the first year of the war. From that time on, the Confederate army’s ability to transport many tents was becoming less an less anyway, since they had been forced by shortages to restrict wagon transportation to ammunition, commissary supplies, ambulances, entrenching tools, and a limited amount of officers’ baggage.

Note: Tentage is a somewhat controversial subject in reenacting. We could accurately portray an army on campaign every time, and have a few dog tents or no tents, which we do at non-spectator, tactical events, and campaign events. We could setup a semi-permanent winter camp, with plenty of tentage, but we would have to be sure and explain to the public why we were setup in a winter camp, when it is not winter. We have found that the best compromise is to encourage the men to travel light, but leave the final decision up to them.

In Civil War reenacting, "less is better" for an authentic field impression. However, when it comes to tentage for events other than non-spectator tacticals and campaigns, the 33rd leaves it up to the individual to decide between a common tent, a shelter fly, or no tent. Sharing tents is up to the individual as well.

Note: Tent ropes should be hemp or plain manila, and not coated with twentieth century preservatives. Wooden tent poles and stakes were manufactured for the permanent camps. Saplings were cut in the field in most cases. For your convenience as well as to prevent denuding the woods wherever we camp, you should precut your poles and stakes. Manufactured 2x2 poles will do for common tents, but saplings should be used for shelter tents. Metal stakes are discouraged, but since some ground is as hard as an ironclad and you cannot see them when they are in the ground, it’s your call.

These are sources for Federal Shelter Half’s or kits:

Heywood Shelters:
Dan Cheatum
616 Bakersfield Rd.
Carbondale, IL 62901
Tel. (618) 529-3038


1608 W. Pearl Street
Stevens Point, WI 54481

The Arsenal
P.O. Box 621
Newport, NH 03773
phone/fax: (603) 863-6262

Personal Items – Using "period" items will greatly enhance your impression as well as your own experience as a soldier in the War Between the States. Such items include, but are not limited to: Pocket Testament (Bible), toothbrush, pocketknife, comb, "housewife" (sewing kit), wallet, pencil, mirror, playing cards, books, newspaper, money, etc.

It’s the personal items, and the use of those items that will give you insight into how the Civil War Soldier lived. This is very important to understand and appreciate the daily life that the soldiers endured. Research the period, for after all the soldier was a living person who dealt with life, in all it’s minutia, and death, in all it’s horror, on a daily basis. Some good sources for correctly made period items are:

Trans- Mississippi Depot Co.
PO Box 875
Tyler, TX 75710
903/526-1192 (FAX)

John Zaharius

PO Box 31152
St. Louis MO 63131
Good buttons and period notions

Military Warehouse

P.O. Box 406
Corinth, MS 38835
Phone (662) 287-8234
Fax (662) 328-9462

The Arsenal
P.O. Box 621
Newport, NH 03773
phone/fax: (603) 863-6262