Your Civil War Uniform Does Not Have to Look 100+ Years Old!
- Your Civil War Uniform Does not Have to Look 100+ Years Old
By Paula and Coach McCoach
Civil War soldiers did not want to look "tattered." The custom was
to look as neat and clean as possible. Remember, when they first got
their uniforms, the uniforms looked new. The soldiers of the Civil
War liked being tidy. If they had rips and tears in their uniforms,
they would sew them up if they could. Being in "tatters" was not a
sign of being "cool."
I recommend that you keep your Civil War Uniform looking as clean
and trim as possible depending on what you want to portray unless you
want to portray a particular campaign where they were ragged. If not
I would want to keep my uniform in good shape, and I would not wreck
my new uniform right from the start. If you really want a tattered
uniform, find one on a blanket.
Even at the end of the war, they were issued new uniforms. Lee's
army looked better at the surrender than at Gettysburg.
Remember you have invested a substantial amount of money in your
Civil War Uniform. I am passionate about mine being accurate and a
correct reproduction. I would not intentionally tear or rip my
uniform to make it look worn. Why destroy your uniform after you
have spent so much time and effort getting it "right?"
Putting a patch on your pants, jacket, shirt, etc. is an accurate way
to fix a hole or tear. But, I am careful not to put too many patches
on my uniform, as I don't want to look like a walking quilt! I
suggest you keep an eye on the number and size of the patches you are
putting on your uniform, to be sure it looks appropriate. I would not
put patches on just for effect. The Civil War soldier would try to
match the patch to the color of the uniform fabric.
An interesting subject among reenactors is the topic of smell. I
don't feel that to have an accurate impression, you have to smell
like you have not taken a bath in months. Soldiers of the Civil War
tried their hardest to smell good and be clean. They would wash
themselves as much as they could in streams, rivers, etc., but
remember hygiene in those days was not what it is today.
Plus, think of your fellow reenactors and maybe your own popularity
or lack thereof, if you smell really bad. The Civil War was pre-
deodorant days. Some guys think the worse you smell, the better your
impression, but I would not go to that extreme. You can't diagnose
smell in original photos.
My last comment on staying neat and clean as the soldiers of the
Civil War wanted to do is about hair. Most of the men who fought in
the Civil War ran the gamut crew cuts to long hair. I think they
cut their hair for hygiene hair to keep the lice down. I would think
in the summer they would cut their hair more and in the winter they
would have longer hair to keep warm.
The same would go with beards. A lot of this had to do with would
depend if you had access to water, razors, etc. I would think in
camp they would be much better groomed than on campaign.
In general, they were not sporting long ponytails or long hair very
often. Long hair was less common than medium or short hair. Look at
original photographs. As I have said many times, if you look at
original photographs, you will see that the hairstyles of the day
were neat and clean and short for the most part.
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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