Stuart's horsemen wore chiefly
homespun clothing of plain gray or butternut with black facings,
or "Hussar's Bars" sewn onto the front of the jackets.
The short jackets early in the war were similar to the Richmond
Depot Type I shell jacket design, which had epaulets, sleeve trim,
and belt loops. Although the traditional trim color for
cavalry was yellow, the 1st Virginia wore black-trimmed uniforms
instead, including a broad-brimmed black hat, often with a black
Although the traditional wearing
of pants was outside the tall cavalry boots, many troopers chose
to tuck their pants into their boots for a bit of style. The
long gauntlet cavalry gloves were tucked in the belt when not in
Since uniforms were subject to
wear and damage as the war bore on into later years, one might
find the light blue Federal uniform pants being worn by
Confederate troops in a "late war impression" as well,
taken from the battlefield dead. Indeed, much of the
Confederate equipment was captured from the Union troops.
The uniforms were not reissued until 1863. Shirts were a
matter of individual choice and style, and colorful calicos as
well as white muslin or plain Osnaburg cotton could be seen
throughout the war on both sides. The well known
"CS" belt plate was not issued to the Army of Northern
Virginia, so belt plates from earlier state militia units were
often seen, as well as a captured "US" belt plate worn
The mechanical sewing
machine was available prior to the Civil War, and men's work
clothing had been available "off the rack" since the
mid-1850s. It is a common fallacy that all Confederate
clothing was hand-sewn. While it is true that many uniforms and
shirts were entirely hand-sewn by the tailors or ladies of
the south or hand-repaired by the individual soldiers, many others
were sewn by lockstitch machines. Considerably more
information on this subject will be available in our section on Civilians.
The single biggest distinguishing
factor of a typical 1st Virginia Cavalryman is the shell
jacket with striped facings, or "Hussar Bars" on
the front. This reflected the American fascination
with European styles in pre-war militia units.
While it may be argued
that uniforms eventually wore out and had to be replaced..
and the highly detailed "early war" jacket was
an unlikely replacement.. we choose as a standard the
original issue style as shown to the left. This
follows the Richmond Depot Type I shell jacket design,
with black sleeve trim ( square, not peaked ), black
shoulder epaulets, and two belt loops on the back ( not
Although records indicate
that Butternut color was also found in the ranks, our
standard is gray.
Mounted Trousers differed
from those of the infantry in that they had a seat area
which was reinforced with a double layer of cloth.
Unlike the Hollywood image of mounted cavalry wearing skin
tight pants, Civil War clothing was generally tailored
with plenty of room for movement, and to allow for
shrinkage of the wool.
We advise all new
recruits to make sure your uniform is generously cut, both
for freedom of motion, and better cooling on a hot summer
day at Gettysburg.
Boots were a private
purchase item in the Cavalry ranks, and many troopers wore
Brogans with their pants tucked snugly into their socks.
But boots were highly
desirable, and we wear them as would any cavalryman of
Civil War boots had low,
square leather heels, so avoid wasting your money on a
later style "cowboy" heel. Square toes
were needed to fit well within the stirrup cups of the
saddles, also preferred. Steel heel plates are
recommended but play hell on nice wooden dance floors.
are covered in the Other
The hat was not issued to
the soldier, and was a matter of personal choice.
Historical records indicate that the overwhelming choice
of hat for the 1st Virginia was a broad-brimmed
"slouch" hat - although the "crush" or
shape of the crown might vary greatly from one trooper to
Many of the 1st Virginia
also liked to wear a black ostrich plume, emulating their
leader, J.E.B. Stuart.
The standard for our unit
is a black hat with black ostrich plume
Note: While hat, jacket, pants, and boots
comprise the basic pats of the 1st Virginia Cavalry
uniform, you are far from ready to take the field.
Additional items such as belt, cap box, cartridge box,
carbine sling, pistol holsters, gauntlets, and saber
(optional ) will be needed before you are ready to fight.
RECRUITS PLEASE NOTE:
Do NOT buy
anything until you have consulted with Wayne Nalls or
another senior member of our unit. We have fairly
strict uniform and equipment requirements, and in general
a "newbie" ends up wasting a lot of money on
gear that doesn't meet reasonable authenticity
Additional gear is covered
in our Other
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Revised: January 11, 2010