Hat – Our unit has certain guidelines for headgear. The normal eastern impression would use a forage cap, kepi or slouch hat. It is best to keep them as plain as possible. There should be no adornments or brass letters or numbers on the hats. Slouch hats were used by Confederates about 80% of the time. Hats can come in any color, however, brown, blue, black or gray are preferred.
Coats – The unit we portray wears a jean/wool Richmond Depot Type II shell jacket without piping (#3 gray jean wool). Later, as you grow in the hobby, you might want to consider getting a frock coat or a four button Union sack coat.
Trousers – You will be asked to purchase jean wool trousers with a button fly, and held up by suspenders. The color should be gray, brown, or some earthy color. Jean wool is much cooler and was more common for the Confederate soldier during the war. Sky-blue kersey wool pants can be purchased later if you want to expand your impression.
- Cartridge Box (with tins)
- Cartridge Box Strap
- Waist Belt (keeper optional)
- Cap Box
- Belt Buckle – Within our unit, buckles should always include either a Georgia frame, British snake tongue, or roller buckle
- Optional: Breastplate and Cartridge Box Plate
Canteen – This is a must. You should never take the field without a full canteen of water. You can get an original tintype or a stainless steel. The latter looks no different and will not rust.
Haversack – Black tarred, canvas sack which is hung over the shoulder containing rations, housewife (sewing kit), tobacco, etc. Not a necessity but generally part of the standard kit.
Brogans (shoes) – These can be rather expensive. Many different styles are sold by many different suppliers. The quality varies. The most important consideration is that they are comfortable. You will be doing a lot of walking in these shoes as an infantryman and you should be sure that they fit well WITH a heavy pair of wool socks on.
Underpants – Authentic underwear is sold but most reenactors use modern garments.
Musket & Bayonet – The two most common weapons used by reenactors are the Enfield and Springfield muskets. Either one of these will cost approximately $450 – $500 new. The reproductions are made by Armisport (cheapest), Euroarms, and Navy arms (most expensive).
Occasionally, a second-hand weapon may be purchased but make sure someone knowledgeable inspects it before purchase. Even though you will not be firing live rounds, a defective weapon is a danger to you and your file-mates. Once you have a musket, you need a bayonet. They are different for each type of musket. Make sure when you buy your bayonet that you try it on the musket and that it seats firmly and locks into place. Also, the scabbards for each are different. The Springfield scabbard is one piece, while that for the Enfield bayonet has two, the frog and the scabbard itself.
Shelter – There are two acceptable forms of shelter for enlisted infantry, the A-Frame tent or the shelter half.
The A-frame, or Wedge Tent, was designed to sleep four soldiers during the Civil War, but really will only accommodate two modern-day reenactors comfortably. These tents come in six and nine foot long models.
The shelter half, or Dog Tent, is a rectangle of canvas with buttons along one side and buttonholes along the other. Matched with an identical piece and mounted on uprights these will provide passable shelter for two men. There comes a decision, however, in damp weather for the taller man as to which end of his body to keep dry!
Blanket – A good, thick woolen blanket is a necessity. Two would be wise.
Mess Kit – Each soldier needs to eat. The basic kit should include a tin cup, a metal plate, and utensils. Avoid the blue speckle-ware that is sold by certain sutlers, it is not period and looks ridiculous. A small frying pan could substitute for the plate, especially if the unit does not have a Mess and you are required to cook for yourself.
Other – Knapsacks, greatcoat, poncho, haversack stuffers all can wait. Many reenactors start salivating over catalogs and wind up buying stuff that they will never use. The best advice is to discuss all purchases with members of our unit.