READY MADE BLOCKADE RUN
by Charlie McCulloh
Family lore is a double edged sword. It can clear or confuse the provenance of an item. One thing is certain, family lore is ingrained in the very fabric of the Family itself and often no contrary evidence will alter cherished and time tested memories.
With this in mind I was fortunate enough to view a pair of trousers and a Hickory shirt that belongs to the family of Mr. Neal McKee. Mr. McKee’s GG Grandfather, Samuel Wilson, fought in the 6th Alabama Infantry, Company C. Mr. McKee brought these items to Confederate Memorial Park, in Maubry Alabama, to allow both Bill Rambo and myself the opportunity to get a close up view of a portion of his family heritage. Fortunately for all concerned Les Jensen was at the Park also viewing other garments. His insight and opinions were very helpful.
The Family Lore: Mr. McKee’s GG Grandfather was remembered as a big man who was tough as nails. Sam Wilson was wounded severely at the battle of Gettysburg. He spent several months in a Confederate Hospital recuperating. His injuries were so severe that he was discharged. At his discharge he was issued the trousers and shirt. He walked home to Alabama. The Family reveres these relics as a link to an honored past.
The Records: Samuel Wilson is listed as a Private in the 6th Alabama Company C. he was 33 years old, 6’-3” and of dark complexion. His enlistment papers show gray eyes and dark hair. Sam Wilson is shown as discharged 6th August 1863 but still in Richmond Wayside Hospital-General Hospital #8 on 10th October 1863. Sam’s final pay voucher, dated 10-10-63, shows:
From May 1863
To 6 Aug. 1863
Rem. Clothing 117.52
clothing assistance 29.30
The trousers themselves: The trousers are a 38” waist and
long length. These
trousers are of tightly woven (canvas like) wool/cotton jean. This is similar to
jeans found on several of the jackets at Confederate Memorial Hall. The fabric
appears to be over dyed walnut brown. The garment has extensive machine sewing.
They have no split at the back of the waistband; the waistband is standard
construction with the interior facing folded and whip stitched down. The
trousers have slash type pockets similar to modern jeans. There is no button
placket for the fly buttons. The edge of the right side of the fly opening is
double machine stitched and the buttons applied directly on the edge of the
fabric, which would cause a gather when closed. The remaining buttons are bone.
Most of the interior material is left raw edged. The pockets themselves are left
raw edge. There are darts at the back of the trousers. The cuff, buttonholes and
interior waistband work is by hand. Unusual. Les Jensen, who was with me when I
viewed these trousers, feels as I do...the quick construction methods of this
garment "scream" ready made wear and could possibly be blockade run.
There is also nothing overtly suggesting a latter date for the garment.
Of course these preliminary conclusions are without any basis in documented fact and are speculation on my part. I still thought these trousers of interest to view as a possible “Blockade Run” example, and there are very few existing, which would help form a larger overall picture of the variety of clothes available to the Confederate soldier.