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Thread: The Necessity Of A Vest?

  1. #1
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    Question The Necessity Of A Vest?

    Other than maybe for a ball or some other formal event, is a vest a necessary requirement to a Confederate uniform?
    -Patrick Q.

  2. #2

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    Hallo!

    Short answer: NUG vests were not a government issued item of clothing.
    However, lads with the money, access, and inclination could do private purchase.... or sent from home.

    Many times, we Moderns having access and disposable income likely have more vests in the field than they did.

    Curt
    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.

  3. #3
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    How about, "No."
    Eli Heagy
    187th PV

    The 137th NY performed way, way better than the 20th Maine at Gettysburg. They just didn't have a self promoting blow hard of a Col. leading them. Maybe you should look up the history of the 83rd Pennsylvania too, they make the 20th Maine look like the rookies they were.
    There are some very good books out there about the fighting on Culps and Lower Culps Hill. Vincent's Brigade had nothing on those boys at the other end of the line.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt-Heinrich Schmidt View Post
    Many times, we Moderns having access and disposable income likely have more vests in the field than they did.

    Curt
    I personally think waistcoats were worn much more than we actually see them in the field today. Now I am not trying to overgeneralize here, but a waistcoat was much more of an "essential" in a man's wardrobe in the 19th century (in any social class) than it is today. Take a look at photos, paintings, fashion plates even run-away slave ads. But let's go back to the original question. And let's use some photographic evidence via the LOC.

    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collecti...em/2012649108/

    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collecti...9121/resource/

    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collecti...8991/resource/

    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collecti...6149/resource/

    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collecti...6138/resource/

    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collecti...8533/resource/

    These are just a few images from the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs. Didn't go through them all, but these images show Confederates wearing waistcoats. Now these are photos taken of soldiers with their jackets unbuttoned. Who knows how many waistcoats are hiding under buttoned jackets? Did every soldier wear one? No. Was it "typical?" We probably will never know. Did Confederates wear wasitcoats during the war? Yes, some did. Take a look at some Union photos, both studio portraits and of soldiers in the field, you'll find many waistcoats on Billy Yank too.

    My thoughts,
    Kyle M. Stetz
    Last edited by NYCivilWar; 10-27-2012 at 03:56 PM.

  5. #5
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    I wear a civilian waistcoat with every uniform, Union or Confederate.(I am not a fan of the military ones with the full up-and-down buttoning) It wouldn't feel properly dressed without one.
    One reason is simply extra pockets!

    WTH

    The HauteCoture mess
    Yuma gonna luv it

  6. #6
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    Sure there are gonna be more posts form more knowlegable folks than me,but I understand it was also a way to take off your coat without showing your underwear,hehe.In the field,I dont know how lax the regular soldiers got with each other and social norms,but it seems I have see a great many vests in photos.Of course these portraits would have been mostly taken in town and a vest would have been absolutely proper,in that setting.In camp,on the march,I really dont know.I have seen many reenactors in camp when ladies were present,with just shirts and I bekieve that is wrong.My .02.

  7. #7
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    The vest/waistcoat was moreso the habit of inherited social habits of the era than a matter of regulation or necessity. As mentioned it was commonly viewed as improper for a gentleman to be out and about only wearing his shirt, (with trousers). By victorian era standards the shirt was considered to be ones underwear... It was acceptable in familier company or while engaging in ones vocation to wear the waistcoat. But more commonly if a gentleman was about his business in town he would normally be found wearing a hat and coat as well... As with anything in war time, things may relax a bit from social graces, whereas you also see photos of men in standing around in the background of camp settings wearing only the shirt... Portraits or intentionally posed photos they usually are properly attired... Reenactors generally under represent the common use of waistcoats.
    Lieut Frederick Sineth
    14th Virginia Infantry Regt Co.I
    - 106th Penna Vol Co.F

    - Pegrams Va Artillery
    - 150th Sailors Creek

  8. #8
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    Where is documentation that a shirt is underwear? I have heard that urban legand for over twenty years, but have never seen it in a primary source. I have seen photographs, and refrences to not wearing a coat while working.

    All the photographs linked to are all early war. The waistcoat will be thrown to the side of the road right after the overcoat.
    Andrew Grim
    Monte Mounted Rifles, Monte Boys
    Mess of Myself
    Occasional 7%er


    "Los Angeles at the close of the Rebellion was the most vindictive, uncompromising community in the United States" Horace Bell

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear Flagger View Post
    The waistcoat will be thrown to the side of the road right after the overcoat.
    I disagree. There certainly is documentation of clothing being discarded on the march, even by veteran troops, espcially after a winter of accumulating extra stuff. But, like anything else, it cannot be considered as a universal practice. Even a third of an army dropping overcoats by the side of the road (Army of the Potomac at on the march to Chancellorsville, for example), that still leaves most of the army with an issued piece of equipment. Throw away an overcoat, face a stiff fine later on... if you survive. Throw that frying pan away, sure.... keep the overcoat until officially ordered to put it into storage for summer campaignin'.

    Throw your vest away? The vest that Ma sent you!?! The vest you paid good money for? No, sirree! Vests are very lightweight. No point in throwing away something doesn't weigh much and was provided by a loved one or you bought with your own money. Hardly takes up any space in the pack, and heck... you can wear it instead of carrying it.
    Last edited by Bloated_Corpse; 10-28-2012 at 03:26 PM.
    Bill Carey

  10. #10
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    Following regulations is nice when the longest walk in the weekend is from sutlers row to camp. On day 2 of a week long march coat buttons become questionable.
    Andrew Grim
    Monte Mounted Rifles, Monte Boys
    Mess of Myself
    Occasional 7%er


    "Los Angeles at the close of the Rebellion was the most vindictive, uncompromising community in the United States" Horace Bell

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