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by Charlie McCulloh

Here is a list of ten things we could work on to help improve our campaign impressions for the coming year. These are comments for both Federal and Confederate impressions, they were compiled after examining hundreds of period photographs. Some of these things require little or no money, some could be a major work on this list as circumstances permit.

1. Lose the Federal Kepi. Even a random sampling of Federal Unit photos of Western troops shows almost all wore slouch type hats. The photos show a predominance of customized Hardee hats. Hats should have an edge band, ribbon (NOT leather) crown band, leather (NOT vinyl) sweat band and cloth liner.

2. Get a correct Federal uniform. Some of our sack coats look like they were cut from a bath mat. Most of our Federal trousers are cut improperly and of the wrong fabric.

3. Quit blousing your trousers. Both Western Federal and Confederate troops were more likely to be wearing  infantry boots than to have their trousers bloused.

4.  Get rid of your “clown shoes”. The average sutler brogan that we are all wearing has only superficial resemblance with a real issue brogan. The research is out there and there are sources for correct shoes.

5. Get a handsewn shirt of a correct pattern. Most of our shirts are machine sewn and some have plastic buttons! Even Federal depot shirts were handsewn. Get you a good checked handsewn shirt with either china or bone buttons (NOT the wood buttons the crafts shops sell for Teddy Bear eyes) and use it for both Federal and Confederate.

6. If you still have a wool ANV Confederate shell jacket and you’re waiting for the unit to start wearing them..........we’re not, so you might as well get a handsewn jeans Columbus or Mobile Depot jacket of correct cut and fabric. By the end of the year everyone should have either one of these jackets. If you have a jacket that is correct construction and fabric but machine sewn, then top stitch over the visible stitching.

7.  Be prepared to go campaign AT EVERY event we attend. If circumstances and the Commander alter that plan you will be notified. We need to work toward what we originally set out in our Bylaws. No coolers, no cots, no “A” tents. It’s only for a few days......they did it for four years.

8. Get a knapsack. Federal issue shows they were very common. Confederate shows they were issued in numbers larger than you would expect. If you don’t want a knapsack try a bedroll sling or just prepare you a bedroll. All of us should have our gear ready to move (as they did) at a moments notice.

9. Buy or make you a correct shelter half  (handsewn button holes and grommets). If you don’t want that, make you a small canvas tent fly. This year we will not be in common (“A”) tents that often. Prepare yourself.

10. Reduce your gear to the minimum. Think long and hard about what you are bringing. Buddy up with a  Pard and don’t duplicate equipment. A little planning will save you some trouble in the long run.

I think most of us are working on these items. After looking around the Battalion I feel that, on the whole, our kits are as good as any out there. We can improve of course, and by next year we should be at the next level. I think the best thing about our unit is the attitude. Without a doubt, everyone in this unit wants to learn and improve. We all have taken giant steps. We have giant steps to take.