THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN OF 1862: THROUGH ARKANSAS EYES
Marching in full Civil War regalia during the summer is very tedious work.
If you are portraying Confederates and your uniform is made of Jean material, which is a weave of wool and cotton, you are lucky. It isn’t quite as burdensome as pure wool. If you are portraying the Union forces, you are in for a very hot time. The dark blue wool attracts heat and usually you are about 10 degrees hotter in the summer when you play Billy Yank.
Whether you are Johnny Reb or Billy Yank you will have on a long sleeve shirt, trousers with bracers (suspenders) and either a short jacket or a long frock coat. Your socks will be thick wool socks and your shoes will be leather brogans with hard leather soles. To top it off you will have either a wide brimmed hat or a kepi, which I call a 19th Century Ball Cap. It had a short bill and was cut sort of like todays baseball caps, although it was usually woolen.
The uniform was just the beginning of the things a soldier had to carry. Next camethe leather equipment which was a haversack for all your food, eating utensils, sewing kit (known as a housewife.), candles and a Bible. It was on a strap that fit over your right shoulder and crossed over to rest on your left hip. Then you cartridge box with your bullets was on a strap that fit over your left shoulder and rested on your right hip. Next, your belt fit around your middle and had your bayonet and your cap box, which was put to the same side of the belt buckle that would allow easy access by your right hand. If you were on campaign, usually you carried your blanket in a roll over your right shoulder as well as your canteen.
Lastly, you carried your 9 pound Enfield Musket.
I describe all this to give you an idea of what these men carried just to be able to survive during a summer or fall campaign. They marched long distances and were foot sore most of the time. Their shoes were lousy and wore out very readily. Some men went barefooted because shoes were nowhere to be found.