Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Impressions - North Carolina Volunteer - Summer 1861

A couple of shots from the Military Through the Ages Event in Fayetteville last month. A member of the North State Rifles provided the great impression. Incidentally, keep on checking their site for an interesting photo presentation on the uniform evolution of the North Carolina soldier.

This soldier wears the uniform prescribed by state regulations. Many companies raised after the time of North Carolina's secession in July 1861 wore this uniform, with variation with the head gear. According the state regulations, this uniform also was to be applied to all major service branches. The forage cap, false epaulets, and a stripe down the seam of the trowsers being the branch color; black for infantry, red for artillery, and yellow for cavalry. The head gear tended to vary, although state regulations called for a felt hat pinned on one side and a hat cord with branch color. Photographic evidence seems to suggest that the hat regs were never followed. Instead, there were variations on the forage caps. Here's another version of the impression from the North State Rifles site.

His converted percussion M1816 musket is an indicator that he was one of the initial state volunteers who was equipped with the arms available to the state. North Carolina had limited stands of available arms, and was quickly reduced to scrounging up muskets for its quickly forming regiments. Soon, new recruits would be receiving crudely converted percussion muskets, flintlocks, or whatever the state could provide.

The leather gear consists of possibly a pattern 1850 cap pouch, pattern 1839 cartridge box for the .69 musket, and bayonet scabbard. His tin drum canteen and haversack are patterned after US issue items used during the Mexican War period. The backpack rig seems to be of non-military fabrication.

This uniform seems to have only been issued during 1861, and probably completely disappeared from service by early '62, as material shortages within North Carolina started to affect uniform manufacture. Depending on the regiment, it would have been replaced either by the NC Depot jacket as the initial NC issue uniform, or the Richmond Depot jackets as subsequent issues. The shell jacket took less material to make, so it became the predominate uniform jacket type in Confederate service.


Chris Graham said...


Just a few notes. Thanks for putting this up. Check the NSR website...the uniform evolution timeline is up.

These uniforms began to be issued in mid-June 1861 and were sent to the North Carolina regiments forming at the Weldon camp. They were not issued to NC regiments already in Virginia, notably the 6th NCST, 1st NCV, and 5th NCV. The state QM system grew, but never developed fast enough to supply more than one regiment at a time assembling at Weldon. So, during the summer of 1861 regiments in Va, and regiments forming at Wilmington, Eastern North Carolina, Asheville, and High Point were not getting these things. During the winter of that year the QM began to catch up and supply these items more generally. And you are right that they began to make jackets in place of the coats sometime in Spring 1862.

As for the blanket roll straps, those are conjecture (very well considered, I should add) based on two sources. One or two photographs showing soldiers wearing the things (particularly photo 2.17 on page 73 in the Mast book) and correspondence from manufacturers suggesting knapsack straps without the bag were made for some companies, possibly in the Mecklinburg County area.


chris graham said...


I should have said mid-July...not mid-June.

And that's an 1816 musket, converted, Dave's got.

mntineer said...

Thanks for the added information, it adds much detail to this post and to my knowledge --I'll make those changes, too! :-)