View Full Version : What is safe?

05-11-2006, 06:27 AM
Greetings all!

I am looking to get into this hobby and I pretty much have few limitations moneywise. But the prevailing thing I have come across is that I should hold off on buying gear till I locate a unit. That search is ongoing at this time, and if any one from a unit in the Atlanta, Ga. area needs folks, lemme know. But I digress.

As for my topic starter, what is safe to buy with unit and impression still up in the air? I figured a gun was pretty easy but then i started to read threads about defarbing the same gun, and others that get called down by "stitch counters" for usen a gun of the wrong year.

In essence, is there anything safe I can go ahead and start getten my hands on now while the quest for a unit is ongoing?

Matt Lupo
Atl, Ga.

05-11-2006, 07:21 AM
Dear Sir,

I suggest a copy of Hardtack and Coffee by John D. Billings, Company Aytch by Sam Watkins, and Soldiering by Rice C. Bull. Not sure if your impression is going to be north or south, so I offered two titles from the northern persuasion and one from the south.

It is wise to not purchase anything until you know the requirements for your unit. However, building knowledge of the life of a soldier is priceless, and these title will do a great job getting you "started."

I also recommend strongly that you read as many journals/diaries and letters that you can find online. A simple Google search can find you mountains of information.

I hope this is helpful to you.

3rd Alabama
05-11-2006, 09:30 AM
Just about the only safe thing to buy is socks, wait till you join a unit and see what gear they recommend

05-11-2006, 10:16 AM
Here is a reenacting groups Website near Atlanta. They are a member of the Georgia Volunteer Bat. A good laid back group. http://www.geocities.com/firstgastateline/

05-11-2006, 11:36 AM
It all depends on the unit and your personal preference. Are you looking to be in a family oriented unit or a more progressive minded bunch. Footwear is basically the same for any side or "branch" of the hobby. I would get quality footwear FIRST. There is a seperate thread talking about the best footwear, so read those threads first. If you are going the campaigner/progressive route and money is tight, I would suggest looking at the classifieds first to get good deals. This site has some progressive stuff and you can also check out the authentic-campaigner website.
good luck and welcome to an unusual hobby,
ew taylor

05-11-2006, 01:06 PM
There are lots of things that you can buy that will be "safe". Look at the guidelines for events and you will see the same basic items listed over and over.

If doing Confederate, a good frock or commutation jacket with slouch hat will take you through most any event. If Federal, then a sack coat and good trousers.

For example, if interested in a weapon, a 61 Springfield or 53 Enfield is listed on just about every event guideline.

From shirts, canteens and shoes through cartridge boxes and cap pouches there are several things you can get that will serve you well for a majority of events.

A word of advice though that you will find echoed by many on this and other forums: pick an impression and do that one well first, then branch out to the other. This will certainly depend on what unit you become a member of.

Look around on these forums and you will find plenty of ideas of items you can buy that are "safe" without needing to have 6 different jackets or multiple longarms.

05-11-2006, 01:44 PM
Socks and Brogans. That's all that you should worry about, until you find your unit. You don't want to buy anything until you know what it is that you will be portraying. Otherwise, you'll be spending out the nose, to try and get the right stuff later.

However, there are certain sutlers out there that you will find will be the most recomended to you for gear. You can buy a copy of the CR Compendium. they have a nice list of them. I think that you'd be safe going with:

Brogans- MBS, Robert Land, Jarnagins(?)
Socks- ask around, everyone has an opinion as to who's is better

Federal Gear:
Sack Coat, Frock Coat, Trowsers- Personally I'd go with either CJ Daley or Nick Sekela. Both are of HIGH quality, and you'd be hard pressed to find better in the hobby.

Leathers- Dell's is a good place to start, CJ Daley, Nick Sekela, and (believe it or not) Regimental Quartermaster (they are actually starting to pick up some of Sekela's gear, and other fine gear. they had several of Nick's two-rivet scabbards in stock last time I was there).

Confederate Gear:
I'm not a well-informed person when it comes to Confederate gear. I do primarily Federal impression however, S&S Sutler of Gettysburg seems to carry a fine selection of Confederate clohting and some gear.


05-11-2006, 03:25 PM
You stated in your other thread that you were most interested in early war. The thing about that is that most events in the Ga./Ala./Tn. are mid to late war events. If you want to aim your impression at mid/late was Army of Tennessee there is a lot of valuable info on the net.

Here's a good place to start.

NPS Confederate Uniform Guidelines
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park ( edited to fit this thread, and to eliminate info not necessary for this discussion)

Jackets: ( should have handsewn button holes, and most should have handsewn topstitching, as a minimum)
1 a. Columbus Depot (sometimes called Georgia) pattern shell jacket. b
Department of Alabama pattern shell jacket
2 a. Alabama pattern shell jacket (no trim, outer slash pocket) b. enlisted
man's frock coat
3 a. Alabama commutation-style jacket b. Richmond Depot pattern shell jacket
Type II (in use with troops who came with Longstreet from Virginia and for
some use with troops of Deshler's Brigade) NOT APPROPRIATE FOR 135th
WEEKEND. c. North Carolina pattern shell jacket
Sack coats - No mid-war period Western Theater sack coats are documented.
Hence, at this time, their use is discouraged.
Buttons - wooden, block I, and some Union coat buttons. State button use
should be limited.
1. military issue style
2. civilian style
Suspenders of civilian pattern, cotton webbing, canvas, or ticking with
either button holes or leather tips with tin or brass buckles (no nickel
plated metal).

Documented civilian or military pattern in wool or cotton, flannel, woven
checks or strips, prints (very limited), or muslin.

Military issue or civilian style in cotton or wool flannel if worn

l a. wide brimmed, generally dark wool felt slouch hat b. cap, jean weave
material; infantry trim acceptable
2. Hardee hat with little or no trim
3. straw/plant fiber, period style
4. Mexican War period military hat
Hats should have as appropriate the proper sweatband, lining, ribbon, and
stitching. Trim and insignia should be limited. Confederate style forage
caps are discouraged and Union forage caps are not allowed.

1 a. Jefferson brogan pattern shoes. b. English imported shoes c. other
military pattern shoes
2. military or civilian pattern boots
Wool or cotton knit socks in white, a basic color, or natural color; hand
knit are best.

1 a. Civilian style, 100% wool, woven blankets in natural or earth tone
colors b. Confederate issue/North Carolina Blanket
2. Union issue blanket
3. blanket made from period pattern wool carpeting Use of quilts or
coverlets should be limited.
Gum blankets/ground cloth:
Oil cloth, painted canvas, or captured Federal issue gum blanket

Camp Equipage:
Each soldier should carry a period tin cup, knife, fork, spoon, and tin
plate. More extensive cooking items such as period individual frying pans
(even improvised ones from old canteens) are not necessary and should be
very limited Cooking during the Campaign for Chattanooga was done in messes
(four or five to fifteen men) sharing the cooking duties and using large
cooking utensils such as kettles, camp kettles, frying pans, coffee pots,
dutch ovens, large spoons and forks, butcher knives, mess pans, wooden water
buckets, axes, etc. These large items were carried in the regimental baggage
wagons which accompanied the troops except in the presence of the enemy.
They were often packed in wooden boxes serving as mess chests. When the
soldiers were issued rations (normally in three to five day increments), the
baggage wagons with the cooking utensils were present except on rare
occasions. In some units, the soldiers assigned to the wagon trains did the
cooking and the rations were delivered cooked to the troops in the ranks.
This practice became standardized during the Atlanta Campaign. Tables,
chairs, and stools were not provided for soldiers or even company officers
and no transportation allowance was allotted to them. They should not be
present in Living History camps.
The Army of Tennessee had little tentage during the Campaign for
Chattanooga. Due to a lack of transportation, most of it had been left in
Middle Tennessee around Tullahoma at the end of June, 1863. A large fly or
two for the enlisted men (at the rate of six flies to every 100 men) or a
common (A) tent for company officers would be a possibility if the baggage
wagons were available. Sleeping under the stars was most common; blankets,
gum blankets, and brush shelters were also used. Straw or hay was rarely
available for bedding. The use of Federal issue shelter tents is
inappropriate (see use of Federal items below). If tentage is needed, a fly
will be provided for the Living History camp. If other tents are required
for personal comfort, their use will only be allowed in a non-public area.

1. Enfield Rifle, M1853, 3-band
2. Springfield pattern rifle, M186.1 b Springfield pattern rifle, M1855
3 a. Springfield pattern musket, smoothbore, M1842, M1822 converted to
percussion. b. Mississippi Rifle c. Enfield Rifle, 2-band (use by sergeants
common) d. Austrian Rifle
4 a. Richmond pattern rifles b. other Confederate manufactured infantry
Side arms are only allowable for officers and approved cavalry impressions.
Appropriate bayonet for weapon carried. However, not every soldier must have
a bayonet; as few as one fourth or one third of the men need have them.

Cartridge box and cartridge box belt
1. M1855/61 box and tins
2. Documented Confederate manufactured pattern box of
leather or painted canvas and tins
3. Enfield box and tins
4. Box for .69 caliber weapons and tins
Cap box
1 a. M1845/50 pattern
b. Documented Confederate manufactured pattern of leather or painted canvas
2. Enfield style
Waist belt and waist belt plate
Rectangular CSA, clipped corner CS, and frame buckles were most common.
Snake buckles, roller buckles, and even oval CS are also acceptable. Some
state, militia, and civilian buckles can also be used in limited numbers.
All waist belt plates are to have proper period construction. Use of an
upside down US should be very limited. Waist belt should be black, russet or
buff leather or painted canvas and appropriate to the buckle.

Bayonet Scabbard
Appropriate for the weapon and bayonet being carried.

1 a. Mexican War pattern b. British pattern--Issac & Campbell/A. Ross
2 a. double bag pattern b. Federal double bag pattern
3. other common period pattern
Two-thirds or more of the men should carry knapsacks.

1 a. tin drum b. wooden drum (Gardner pattern), usually of cedar
2. Federal pattern--smooth side more common then bulls eye
3. other common period pattern
Straps should be cotton, cotton webbing, or leather sewn together or with a
buckle or button. As few as two-thirds or one-half of the men need to carry

1. white cotton duck unpainted
2. black painted
3. cotton jean weave unpainted
4. Federal pattern
As few as two-thirds or one-half of the men need to carry haversacks.

Use of Federal items:
Since most of the Army of Tennessee's soldiers had little contact with the
enemy for about nine months, only durable items would be appropriate. Only
Federal-style canteens, blankets, knapsacks, haversacks, Hardee hats, gum
blankets, accouterments and weapons should be used. Federal sky-blue
enlisted man's foot trousers would have been extremely rare if seen at all.
Jefferson brogan pattern shoes would be acceptable.

Eyewear and Glasses:
Spectacles (what we call glasses today) were not a common item amongst Civil
War soldiers or even civilians of that era. Hence, try to get by without
glasses if you can while doing Living History or wear contact lenses. If you
must wear glasses, visit antique stores and purchase a 19th century pair and
have the lenses replaced with one of your prescription, preferably with
safety lenses. No modern glasses may be worn at anytime as part of a Living
History program.

This will give you an idea on the type of stuff you should get, but not the source. The best thing to do is find a unit, and talk to then about their requirements.
If the unit your considering tells you to buy federal pants first because you can use them for both fed, and Confederate, or if they tell you just go buy stuff from the Sutlers at events then you should run away quick, and find a better unit.

05-11-2006, 07:00 PM
This is all great advice and I thank you guys! =) And thank you for the emails as well!

That bit about the enterchangeable pants though was funny as ********************. It kinda makes me beg the question, are there folks really that uptight about that sort of thing? I mean, its not a bad thing mind you, but I have litteraly found dozens of posts on the issue as to when and where Reb reenacters can wear Fed pants. For my self, I couldnt make my self do such a thing honestly. If it comes to it, I will have a fed hat, coat and pants, and CSA hat coat and pants.

Another question in the gear, clothes department that I have is this, how horrible would it be to have a "standard" southern uniform for late war era? *shrugs* By no means am i bucken for an officers position but i do realise that officers tended to keep there uniforms in better repair than average ground pounders. By standard i mean shell jacket, pants, belts, brogans, bag, that sort of thing. I really like the campaigner impressions but they cant have all looked like utter vagrant vagabonds! Plainly said, I respect the civi garbed folks with there period attire and what not, throw on a gun, kepi, and ammo box, and they are set. But I enjoy the uniform look far more. I realise however that this question can only really be answered by a unit that I join but I would love an opinion or three on this. :D

05-11-2006, 08:48 PM
As far as ones particular impression, it really depends on the time frame, unit, etc. Civillian items were common throughout the war in both armies, perhaps more prevalant in the southern armies though. Nothing wrong with a pure military impression at all. Most units have a pretty broad spectrum that one can choose from, even the more authenticly inclined. The less authentic units, well you can wear just about anything.

05-11-2006, 09:37 PM
Acually the uniform for the "campaigner" groups are still the same uniform. Most of your compaigners do go with a much more authentic kit, from much better sutlers. Otherwise the uniform is pretty much the same.

05-11-2006, 09:53 PM
Acually the uniform for the "campaigner" groups are still the same uniform. Most of your compaigners do go with a much more authentic kit, from much better sutlers. Otherwise the uniform is pretty much the same.
That's true, assuming the uniform is correct in the first place.
What I was saying is that some mainstream unit allow pretty much whatever uniform one wants to wear. Such as the so called " regimental sack coat" that every mainstream sutler sells. Where as "campaigner" groups will stear a recruit towards the items that are correct for the time/ theater they are portraying.

bob 125th nysvi
05-12-2006, 10:23 PM
that you join a unit first.

Since you have a limited budget you want to purchase those items that will get you on the field the quickest.

Basically an uniform, gun, something to eat off of, something to sleep in and a canteen.

If you are doing a union impression it is a little easier since the uniform was more standard than the CSA where it was a lot more dependent on small manufacturers and home.

Socks and brogans are pretty generic but then socks are something people generally don't get a good look at (unlike your hat) so you might be better off using socks you already have and spend the limited money on other more obvious things.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

05-13-2006, 05:51 PM
I thought I would roll flower around in bacon fat until its a doh and cook it on my bayonette over an open flame. I forget what the ******************** wound up being called but in the end, its all both armies were eaten at alot of the time. :D As for a "first glance" impression, think I will skip it. If there is a job worth doing, its worth doing right I say. Does this mean I am a stich counter in the making? Not hardly. I hate research though I love reading aobut this stuff. I cant spell for **** so that has me on par with your higher southern edgmication. :) But I will burn the 3 bucks for wool socks. Its the least I can do for the 20 some odd great great uncles and grandfathers, that I got in my family that died in this little shindig called the "war between the states".

My gear will be accurate for the time, if not the place 100% of the time, that will be enough for me I think. :cool: Am I a progressive? Nah, its still ******************** if you dont have the fleas, lice, dysintary, starvation, frost bit toes, filthy tatters, ripe smell of unwashed garbage about your person. Am I a mainstream? Nah, cadet standard, scarlette o'herra civil war was a book and fantasy. In the end, I am just a teacher with a burning desire to teach in a peculier way. A rare antiquated southern gentleman that wishes to show the ladies that its not dead to this world, though my GF thinks I am a mad man for wanting to do this sort of thing.

For now, I could turn up at just about any event. =) I hope to be able to fall in with any and all of you. I pass judgment on no one for any reason and will always share with any one my laughter and love for this time period. Because it was a time when men were men and they did what had to be done. The last of this line of men littered the beaches of normandy, the hedge rows, the streets of Berlin. If i can just tear my self away from my modern easy life for a few hours to even pretend to be a man like that in any one elses company, I will consider those hours richer.

Thanks so much for the imput guys, I greatly appreciete it. Sorry this post seemed to turn into a post about the civil war within the civil war reenacters community. :cool: Its just that the irony was too .... enticeing.