Should You Try to Make Your Civil War Uniform Look "Rubbed Out?
- Should You Try to Look 'Rubbed Out'?
By Paula and Coach McCoach
Looking 'rubbed out' means having your uniform look like it is worn
out as if it has been on the march for years as the real Civil War
soldiers' uniform probably looked.
Due to the hard campaigning done by the Civil War Soldier, pants
would usually last about 1 month before they started to get ragged
or, as the Victorians would say 'tattered'. Jackets would
be 'tattered' within about 2 months on the march. A word often used
to describe their uniforms was 'rubbed out' not worn out, as we would
say in modern times.
I would not try to look 'rubbed out' on purpose. I couldn't
purposely harm my uniform to get a certain look. To me, my uniform is
something I took great pains to acquire and in my case I made my
pants, jacket, shirts, suspenders, and haversacks with my own hands
My uniform is something I honor. I know I sound 'saintly'
but I feel strongly about protecting the integrity of my uniform
and of the Civil War soldier. They would have never purposely
damaged their uniforms.
If you do want to look rubbed out naturally, but like me, you
don't want to purposely harm it just wear your uniform all the time.
I wear my jacket frequently - If I go shopping or out to eat,
I wear my jacket and vests.
And, guess what, people ask me where I got them!
If you do want to get a quicker rubbed out look (which I would not
do) take a stiff bristled brush and hit it in the elbows and work
some fuzz. Take a razor and shave off the fuzz...like wearing it
out. But, I don't
recommend this - as if you didn't know that already!
If you still want to look "rubbed out," instead of deliberately
harming you uniform, why not try doing the the real soldiers did?
When Confederate and Union soldiers were on the march, keeping clean
was difficult. Camping by a stream was a chance for them to wash
some of their clothes as well as themselves.
To add some authenticity to your impression at a reenactment, pin
your socks to your uniform and dry them out, as they would have done.
Sling your shoes over the other shoulder and go barefooted. You know
barefooted soldiers were a very common site, especially in Lee's army.
After several seasons of reenacting, your uniform will get some wear
to it and look "more rubbed out" without doing anything to it.
Remember, Civil War soldiers took the utmost pains to stay neat and
clean and tidy. Isn't that more authentic in the long run
preserving the true spirit of the Civil War soldier!
Coach McCoach has been a Civil War reenactor in the 4th North
Carolina Infantry, 2nd Virginia Regiment, and 21st Virginia Company
B. Coach has received the "Authenticity Award" from these companies
several times for his Civil War Uniform Impression. Coach's Civil War
uniform designs have been seen in the movies GETTYSBURG, Antietam
Visitors Center, ANDERSONVILLE.
For more information, contact coach@... or go to
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