View Full Version : Shoulder Scale Question

11-23-2006, 02:36 AM
Ok, I've looked through several resources but am no closer to the answer. I know that shoulder scales on enlisted Federal Frocks were very uncommon in the field, but they were in the regs. In looking at period pictures, I can find a good number of soldiers both with and without scales. My question is in regards to the scale mountings, were these part of the frock when issued? I have a frock which has the mountings (I also have scales for appropriate times) but when I see photos of men without the scales on I usually do not see the mountings either, is this due to the photo or were they likely not there? How common was it for men to wear frocks with scale mountings without the scales on and when is it appropriate to do so? Am I wrong in wearing my frock without the scales but with the scale mountings in place? If someone could point me to the right place to research this I would be very appreciative.

11-23-2006, 03:26 AM

I would have to say that the decision you make on whether or not to wear the mountings on your frock coat depends on the research done on the particular unit you are portraying. This happened to me at Remembrance Day this year. The Liberty Rifles were portraying the 153rd PA of Von Gilsa's Brigade, First Division, 11th Corps. Through our research we found that this unit wore frock coats with scales but most likely would not have worn the scales into battle at Gettysburg, thus the mountings would have been on the coats. So Friday night I was up late in my hotel room sewing on shoulder scale attachments. I think it can go either way depending on the research. Keep the scales and attachments handy and when you need to sew them on for a particular unit they are there for you. Hope this helps a little.

Josh Sawyer
Liberty Rifles

11-25-2006, 04:44 PM

Scales and attachments were issued separately. It was the soldier's responsibility to attach them to his uniform coat. He could do this himself or pay the company tailor, or a laundress to it for him.
The use of scales was really the choice of the commanding officer. I seriously doubt if they were worn in battle very often. When you do garrison events, such as Fort Clinch or ceremonial formations, such as dress parade, you and your entire company should wear your scales. If the mountings are on, leave them on.
You can wear your uniform coat without the scales in camp and in the field. You will need to wear your scales at colors and dress parade at Olustee in February.

James Permane,
4th Fla/ 15th US

11-25-2006, 06:10 PM
In the White Oak museum in Virginia there is a wall of dug scales from the 6th Corps winter camp. Most in almost good enough shape to be shined and worn.
I'd say it is a testament to things that get left behind when a regiment breaks camp.

Bill O'Dea
Salt Boiler mess (http://www.rugglesrag.com/salt_boiler_mess.htm)

11-25-2006, 11:58 PM
Thanks everyone. It's just one of those little things that I've wondered about for a while and haven't found any particular documentation outside of a few photos and individual unit records. I believe I have the answer now in that the scales were issued separately which brings us to the everlasting answer.... "it depends". I was never sure if the mountings were attached at issue which apparently they were not; had they been, then the mountings would have been more PEC.

11-26-2006, 12:15 PM
Shoulder scales were found in Herbst (McPherson) Woods at Gettysburg where the Iron Brigade was...the cavalry was in there, too, so it's anyone's guess as to who the owner was.

Rob Weaver
12-05-2006, 08:58 PM
Frocks were very common in the Wisconsin regiments of the Iron Brigade, and there are a number of surviving photos taken throughout the war. Not a shoulder scale mounting stud in the lot. The IB, at least, does indeed fulfill your question about frocks without shoulder scales at all. In fact, my avatar is a photo of William Ray Co F 7th Wisconsin, taken in the winter of 63-64.