Society & Culture & Entertainment Education

Discover the Secrets of Your Shell Jacket

Your shell jacket is one of the finest articles of your Civil War Uniform Impression.
Your jacket and hat are what is noticed first about your uniform.
Check your shell jacket against these amazing shell jackets right out of the history books and know that your jacket will be "right out of yesterday" authentic and you will have preserved a celebrated piece of our illustrious American Civil War history! Confederate regulations did call for a double-breasted frock coat with sky blue pants with a kepi with trim for branch of service, but these regulations never seemed to really make it to the forefront.
For example, colored trim was used to indicate branch of service: buff for staff; red for artillery, yellow for cavalry, light blue for infantry, black for medical.
This trim was on the cuffs and collar and anywhere else where it might show up.
Regulations also called for light blue trousers for enlisted men and a darker blue for higher-ranking officers Special buttons were prescribed such as "E" for engineers; "I" for infantry; "A" for artillery; "C" for Calvary, and "R" for riflemen.
By mid-July of 1861, the Confederate government in Richmond took on most of the responsibility for providing uniforms for the ragged volunteers.
A clothing factory was set up in Richmond and other cities throughout the South around September.
The major depots were Atlanta, Athens and Columbus.
The depots maintained groups of tailors, who cut out the uniforms in pieces and provided buttons, trim and so on in a kit form.
These kits were given out to seamstresses who numbered in the thousands.
These seamstresses put the uniforms together.
This system proved amazingly successful, and they were producing thousands of uniforms a year.
Army regulations were rarely if ever adhered to instead producing short-waisted shell jackets that did not eat up a lot of cloth.
Some depots turned out sky blue, but the vast majority of the jackets and pants were cut out of the same cloth.
The same depot might turn out uniforms made out of wool, jean cloth or whatever was on hand.
One cannot really say that one depot turned out a particular uniform unless you can find a uniform that is documented to be worn by a certain soldier and was produced by that depot.
It's very difficult to trace a particular uniform down.
Basically, pants and shirts were made from the civilian patterns of the day.
If you want to do a civilian impression, feel free to use a military pattern with civilian cloth.
Some of the civilian outfits were rather amusing in appearance with checks and large prints.
By about October 1862, the depot system took on the responsibility of supplying practically all clothing.
Everyone knew the Confederate government had shortages of all kinds.
To put out good woolens was difficult.
Cotton products such as shirts and underwear were not that difficult to turn out.
Cotton was used to stretch the wool; hence, fairly large quantities of jean cloth were used instead of pure wool.
Blankets and overcoats were difficult to turn out and f oreign supplies were contracted to help.
As early as 1862 large quantities of British army wool started to arrive in Confederate depot areas.
Along with the British wool came shoes, knapsacks, and accoutrements, as well as many other items.
Georgia and North Carolina did particularly well in supplying their troops, but some states could do little.
Please feel free to supplement civilian items because this situation was common throughout.
There was actually very little difference in the jackets that came out of the various depots.
There was also a sack coat that was a looser fitting type of coat.
Even the Army of the Northern Virginal could get jackets out of other depots.
They moved the jackets to wherever they needed them, and it's hard to say from which depot jackets were originated.
For more information on Early, Midwar and Late war Jackets, and to see amazing jackets reproduced from original photographs, send an email to jackets@civilwaruniforms.
For more information, contact coach@civilwaruniforms.
2003 permission granted to reprint this article in print or on your website so long as the paragraph above isincluded and the contact information is included tocoach@civilwaruniforms.

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