by Leslie D. Jensen
is rather difficult to determine the first pattern of jacket issued by the
Richmond Depot. Apparently none survive; but based on photographic
evidence, and later Richmond practice, it is believed that the first
pattern jacket, herein designated the Richmond Depot Type I, was a
jacket with a six piece body and two piece sleeves, with a nine button
front, shoulder straps and probably belt loops. There were generally no
buttons on the cuffs. The lining was probably a cotton osnaburg. The
distinctive point about the first pattern jacket, and the feature that
distinguished it from the Type II, was that it was trimmed on the collar,
shoulder straps and cuffs with either tape or piping. However, because all
of these details must be either gleaned from photographs or inferred from
later practice, there is still much that is open to discussion. Moreover,
because these jackets were produced during the official commutation
period, they may very well have had individual differences created by
the demands of unit commanders. An internal note written to the clothing
bureau commander in 1862 is a good indication of this:
A photograph of Charles H. Powell, 4th Virginia Cavalry, taken 22 February 1862 (above) is one of the earliest pieces of evidence to show this pattern. Like later Richmond jackets, the material is rather thick and the edges appear to be topstitched. It appears to be made of a rather light colored gray wool. The trim on Powell's shoulder straps is tape placed on the surface of the strap, as is the collar, but the cuffs may be piped.
There exist a number of photographs of soldiers, mainly from Virginia, photographed in Richmond wearing this same jacket with either piped or taped trim, or a combination of both. An unidentified artillery private photographed by Charles Rees of Richmond shows this jacket (FIG 3), as does another Rees photograph of a pair of sergeants from Lynchburg, Virginia, Austin S. Morris and Richard A. Williams. Except for button size, the jacket worn by Morris appears to be identical to the pattern under discussion (FIG 4). A photograph of Sergeant Thomas Crowder Owens of the 9th Virginia Infantry, who was killed at Gettysburg, also shows this pattern uniform (FIG 5).
jacket in question was worn by Sergeant E.C.N. Green of the 47th North
Carolina State Troops, who was killed 1 July 1863 at Gettysburg (FIG 7).
Sergeant Green's jacket is made of a very fine quality cadet gray cloth,
and is lined in light brown silesia in the body and light blue cotton in
the sleeves. It is trimmed around the collar, on the edges of the shoulder
straps and at the cuffs with 1/4" dark blue cotton tape. It has eight
large script "I" buttons down the front manufactured by S.
Isaacs and Campbell, two small buttons of the same type at the shoulder
straps, and two at each nonfunctioning cuff. There are no belt loops.
Sergeant Green's chevrons have been separately applied, each stripe being
made of 1/2" wide black velvet. The ends of the chevrons extend into
the sleeve seam, indicating they were put on before the sleeves were
These chevrons are virtually identical to those of Sergeant Morris.
The example shown above was worn by Private John Blair Royal of the 1st Company, Richmond Howitzers. He had it on when he was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863. The left sleeve shows the mark of the incoming Union shell that hit Royal and killed another man on his gun crew. Royal apparently preserved the jacket as a souvenir of his close escape, and did not use it subsequently, for the hole shows neither a repair nor an indication of further wear. Therefore, this jacket is a rare survival from the mid part of the war, and helps to establish the dating for this pattern. Made of a rough wool/cotton combination material, it has red piping on the shoulder straps, and displays the six piece body, two piece sleeves, nine button front, plain cuffs, osnaburg lining and belt loops that characterize the pattern. 52
A photograph of Sergeant John French White, Company K, 32d Virginia Infantry, taken 15 May 1863, shows this same pattern, and again aids in dating. (FIG 10) White had evidently drawn this jacket in February upon returning from furlough, although his regiment drew 75 jackets on 4 April and another 60 on 26 May. Whether the one in the photo was drawn in February or April, it came through the Army of Northern Virginia's main supply source, the Richmond Depot. Like the Royal jacket, it had a nine button front and shoulder straps 53
photographs of Army of Northern Virginia soldiers wearing these jackets
include those of Ernest Hudgins, of Mathews County, Virginia (FIG 11), E.A.
Timberlake of the Laurel Brigade (FIG 12), Alexander Hams of Parker's
(FIG 13) and Private C.J. Rush of the 21st Georgia (FIG 14). In addition,
there are a number of photographs of unidentified soldiers, some
demonstrably taken in Richmond, that show the same jacket. 54
Thus, the Type II Richmond Depot jacket may have been in production as early as the Spring of 1862, judging from Harris' picture, with the transition between the trimmed Type I and the untrimmed Type II being somewhat gradual and overlapping. The Type II was certainly in use in 1863 and 1864, based on the White photograph and also on the well known view of Confederate prisoners captured at Cold Harbor in June, 1864, in which the majority wear jackets with shoulder straps and belt loops (FIG 15). At least three of the dead Confederates photographed at Fort Mahone in April, 1865 have shoulder straps on their jackets, although the majority do not 57 Therefore, at least some of these jackets were still in service at the end of the war.
A Type II jacket worn by Private George N. Bernard of the 12th Virginia was made of a rough, dark greenish gray woolen material. The lining, however, was the cotton osnaburg to be expected in this pattern. It had a nine button front and belt loops, and once had shoulder straps. These straps had been deliberately cut off, probably during service, but the ends were still in the shoulder seam.58
Another jacket of this same pattern, but in heavy wool cadet gray kersey surfaced in early 1988. Unfortunately without a solid history, it is believed to be a part of this group based upon the overall pattern, the button count, the shoulder straps, belt loops and lining and the fact that this kersey material saw extensive use in the Army of Northern Virginia late in the war (FIG 16).
Finally, a jacket of the same pattern, but without the belt loops is in the Smithsonian collection. Itwas worn by Private G. William Ramsey, 17th Virginia Infantry (FIG 17). Ramsey joined the 17th Virginia in November, 1863 and served until the end of the war. Clothing rolls which might date the issue of this particular jacket to Ramsey do not exist, but because he surrendered at Appomattox and apparently wore the jacket home, it probably dates to the last six months of the war. This particular jacket may be a transition piece both because it lacks belt loops and because it is made of heavy cadet gray kersey. 59 As will be seen, this kersey material was used almost exclusively in the Type III Richmond Depot jacket, which dates to the last part of the war. This, plus the fact that the same material is found in a group of Irish-made jackets described below, argues strongly that this gray kersey is English-made cloth run through the blockade.
jacket of the same type, also without the belt loops, was used by J.
Rhodes Duval of the 62d Georgia Partisan Rangers, which served in Lee's
army from May until July, 1864, when it was disbanded. Duval's coat is
identical to the others except that it has been trimmed with yellow wool
challee. The shoulder straps have been cut off. 60
least fourteen of these jackets survive, indicating widespread issue. This
high survival rate, plus the "last uniform" rule, indicates that
this must be the last pattern issued to Lee's army from the depot.
The jacket worn by E.F. Barnes, 1st Company Richmond Howitzers, is a good example of the type (FIGs 19, 20). Made of cadet gray wool kersey, it is lined in the standard cotton osnaburg used by the depot. The nine buttons on the front, seven of which are Virginia state seals and two New York, are probably period replacements. The jacket shares the six piece body and two piece sleeves common to the depot. 63 Barnes was paroled 17 April 1865 at Richmond. 64
A circular from the Adjutant & Inspector General's Office dated 3 June 1862 allowed officers to wear a fatigue uniform in the field consisting of a plain frock coat or a gray jacket, without embroidery "on the collar only." The convoluted language of this order probably meant, or at least seems to have been interpreted to mean, that only collar insignia and not sleeve braid must be worn. 65 An 1864 General Order allowed officers to draw enlisted clothing once all the men had been supplied.66 Two examples of Type III jackets acquired in this manner by officers have survived, one with an interesting modification that allows close dating.
A jacket worn by Brigadier General William Fitzhugh Payne is a standard Type III with the addition of colonel's stars on the collar (FIG 21). The original infantry buttons still remain on the jacket, despite the fact that Payne was a cavalry officer.67
2d Lt Thomas Tolson of the 2d Maryland Infantry wore a Type III jacket adorned only with his rank insignia on the collar. The lining in Tolson's uniform is most unusual, consisting of heavy gray blanket material. A clue to this feature was Tolson's diary entry for 10 February 1865: "Pay $100 to have my jacket and pants fixed in Petersburg. The weather wet and very cold." 68 Otherwise Tolson's jacket is identical to the others [see Ross Kimmel's article in this issue, FIG 9 for a photograph of this jacket].
Other known Type III jackets are listed in the footnotes. All of them date from 1864 or 1865 and all are attributable to elements of the Army of Northern Virginia.69
This article was originally published in the Fall and Winter 1989 issues of The Military Collector & Historian.
© Copyright 1989 Company of Military Historians.
See, for example, the photograph of Private John O'Ferrell of Crenshaw's Battery, Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond. Crenshaw's Battery was uniformed, not by the Quartermaster's Department, but by the personal funds of its captain, William G. Crenshaw. Louis H. Manarin and Lee A.Wallace, Jr., Richmond Volunteers, The Volunteer Companies of the City of Richmond and Henrico County, Virginia 1861-1865 (Richmond, 1969), p. 37, 40.
Collection No. 21.10.2., North Carolina Division of Archives & History, Raleigh.
Collection no. 0985.13.442., Museum of the Confederacy.
Letters, John French White to wife, 26 February 1863,16 May 1863,
Private Collection; CSR, Col. E.B. Montague, 32d Virginia Infantry.
William A. Turner, Even More
Confederate Faces (Orange, 1983),
pp. 89, 119, 145; Philip Katcher, American
Civil War Armies (1)
Confederate,Osprey, No. 170), p. 14.
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