Re: Lack of Uniformity
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
(History versus Authenticity versus Detail makes for a crowded pin head...)
This is an on-going pendulum swing that gets discussed every so often here, on the AC Forum, and on other boards and fora.
In the "spirit" of the thing, yes- with each man US or CS going out and even buying premium goods from premium vendors/makers, whose products highly compare to the raw materials, patterns and forms, and methods of construction or technology- it is possible (and observed) that the overall impression of the group is that no TWO MEN served together in the same company.
However, the heresy is, when looking at say a "CW era company, there is NEVER EVER cookie-cutter uniformity.
The first factor is when and where the company or regiment was uniformed and outfitted, for the very first time, and how many of what arsenal or contractors' goods were on the shelves when the requisitions came in to be filled? (Looking for the "By Like Company" concept of regimental issuances where the most men received the most "same" goods, as far as the numbers of any one thing went...).
The second factor is what the company is doing to use up or lose clothing and gear? Hard marches and hard campaigns put a strain on the items themselves as well as the ability of the Quartermaster and Ordnance folks to "resupply" and in what "quantities."
A third factor is how close, or how far, is the unit from a "resupply?"
A fourth factor is the Clothing Allowance System as well as the US arsenal and the CS commutation and arsenal systems. Looking at "routine" and "emergency" type resupply requisitions, not all men, needed everything, and some men were allowed to pass on "new" if the "old" was still serviceable.
A fifth factor is unit consolidations. As larger units were shot up, they were often "condensed" into smaller unit groupings- mixing men in a brigade down to a regiment down to a battalion down to companies, etc.
And last but hardly least, is that even with the same clothing, accoutrements, and gear, the individual notions, druthers, field experience, the size of the men, etc., not everything is worn or carried in exactly the same way as veteran soldiers adapt and adopt.
Having said all that, IMHO, it is one of my heresies that (of course depending upon the unit, time, and place of the impression) there should generally be more "similarity" along the lines of "By Like Company" issuance. First with weapons. Then with accoutrements. Then with clothing and gear. (with druthers and personalizations so noted).
And when each and every man looks entirely too much different, even though they are all uniformed in Sekela, Daley, Brown, Wedeward, Nolin, Blunt, Hock, etc., etc. uniforms- they can be presenting the wrong image for some unit's time, place, and circumstances.
IMHO, the key is to fix through research and documentation, the particular unit's time, place, and circumstances- and then try to appear more like the period images rather than the images of reenactors at events.
When 100 lads have 100 different blouses, or 100 different canteen covers, or 100 different blankets, or 100 different accoutrement sets, it can present an unbelievable image.
Where it gets tricky, is in determining how many out of the 30, 50, or 100 can have reflect "campaign" loss, "arsenal/contractor" differences, "skipping on the Clothing Allowance," etc.?
Over the years of reenacting, there has been a Reenacting Tradition of sorts where Confederates were allowed if not encouraged to all look different as a "CS thing,"- and where to a point the blue blouse and sky blue trousers of a Federal tended to even out the "look" at 50, 100, or 300 yards more easily.
Others' mileage and heresies, will of course, vary...
In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt
Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.